Clarissa's Blog

An academic's opinions on feminism, politics, literature, philosophy, teaching, academia, and a lot more.

More Monkeys

So I did buy a second monkey in hopes that it would make my life easier. But not so fast! Klara has figured out that there are now two monkeys and demands that I provide both at any given time. I’m very happy I didn’t buy 3. 


Will, Too

Women on Facebook are running a meme where everybody posts “me, too” if they have been sexually harassed. I can do even better and post “I will be, in three weeks” because I’m traveling to a conference in Santo Domingo and I can predict my sexually harassed future. 

Love Grandpas

I’m sorry, folks, I’m running around on union business, so I’m short on insight. I just walked into the den of the dragon – a passionate anti-union colleague twice my age – and got him to sign our petition. So I’m super proud of myself. I’ll know I lost my thing when I stop having an effect on grandpas.


I thought that no part of the dumb Harvey Weinstein drama could upset me but I have to confess that it was deeply disappointing to hear about Meryl Streep’s pathetic fawning and simpering at the feet of this stupid tub of lard and her sudden discovery that it’s no longer fashionable publicly to worship him. 

She’s the only person with any talent in the whole story. And she ends up being the most vapid and spineless.

Campus Speakers and Class

As for campus speakers, the real problem is not that some weirdo came to speak at Berkeley but that the absolute majority of departments in the Humanities have not been able to invite any speakers for years. 

Students don’t even know why. 

“We don’t ever have any speakers at this department!” they exclaim.

“We’d love to invite people,” I say. “But we don’t get funding even for a secretary, let alone for speakers.” 

Students are stunned. They honestly had no idea.

This is what I call class consciousness. We don’t exist even to our own minds. 

N-word in the Classroom

So how do you, folks, feel about To Kill a Mockingbird being pulled off high school curricula?

In all honesty, I wouldn’t want to teach any book that contains the n-word in any context or to make any point whatsoever in an 8-grade classroom. I’m not seeing any benefits that would outweigh the discomfort. It’s not even a world literary masterpiece that every cultured person needs to know by the age of 15 or else. It’s an ok book for kids that can be a lot of fun to read but that’s hardly indispensable or exceptionally urgent. 

I remember a class in Ukrainian literature back when I was 14-15. We were reading a novella by a great Ukrainian writer. The problem was that one of the characters used a word that is perfectly innocent in Ukrainian but obscene in Russian. It’s been many years, I’m a literary critic, but all I remember about that author and his novella is the obscenity because that’s how the teenage mind works. 

If I were a teacher and I had a choice, I wouldn’t teach this novel in high school. I wouldn’t teach it in college either but that’s strictly because I personally find it boring and lacking in artistic merit. 

First Kindles

Today’s Kindles are, of course, enormously better than the bulky first-generation ones that cost $400 back in 2008. (It was still before the mainstreaming of smartphones, and these Kindles were miraculous).

One thing, though, I miss enormously from the first-generation Kindle and that’s the automatic page-turn function. One could play with fonts to make it coincide with one’s reading speed. After all the tech advances since then, it would be great to see automatic page-turn regulate itself through learning from your reading patterns. But the only Kindle that even has the page-turn at all is the ultra-expensive waterproof model. As if people were desperate to automatically page-turn under water. 


There is this notorious old lady in town that everybody warns you about, and I finally ran across her today. She’s in her late 70s, I’d say, beautifully dressed, with impeccable makeup and great hair. She haunts family-type restaurants (the ones with “kids eat free” nights, high chairs, and large children’s menus) and approaches moms to tell them something nasty about their kids. We have several child-free restaurants in town but this old broad prefers to drive herself nuts by seeking out kids. 

She prefers to bug women with several kids or women who are out with kids alone. Things she says to them range from “Your son seems retarded. Have you considered having him evaluated?” and “Your kids spoiled my whole evening. These are the rudest, nastiest children in town.” Moms, of course, feel horrible even if they know who she is in advance.

So today we were at Applebee’s, and the town’s baby-hater sat right behind us. It was a super early dinner and the place was almost entirely empty. There was zero reason for her to sit behind the only toddler in the joint. Klara was enjoying herself so much that only a total monster would resist smiling. She wasn’t exceptionally loud or anything. But she’s a toddler who was having a grand old time, so there was running around and happy giggling. 

The baby-hater started giving me dirty looks and rolling her eyes. I was hoping she’d try to say something because boy, did I have a few choice words prepared just for her. But here’s the advantage of being an older mother. Nobody messes with me. So the old hag never dared to say anything.

I understand this is a mentally ill person. But hey, she’s managing to put on eyeliner and mascara every day. She should be capable to control her verbal diarrhea.

A Good Example

Ukraine is celebrating the Day of the Armed Forces today. The war is going on and the past couple of months haven’t been good. 

During the festivities in Kiev, a man raised his arm in a Nazi salute and yelled “Ukraine above all!” He was immediately arrested. Nobody anticipates the President to give a speech explaining how this was a good guy. To the contrary, everybody knows he’ll give a talk to condemn this kind of thing in the strongest terms. The media on all sides of the political spectrum expressed horror and condemnation that this happened. 

And it was just one fellow at a huge event. 


The two morning posts were inspired by the idiots who insist that those who aren’t in Catalonia shouldn’t have opinions about the situation. And whose entire position on the subject is the superficial and consumerist “If people want to have a country of their own, they should be free to choose that.” Of course, when I asked for the directions of the store where you could make that purchase, they got all huffy. 

Neither idiot is in or from Catalonia, by the way. 

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