Does Anybody Else Have a Problem. . .

. . . with this MLK memorial?

Aside from the fact that, as Maya Angelou pointed out, his words were mutilated into a quote that made him sound like an arrogant jerk?

Why is Martin Luther King Jr. suddenly white in this monument? Not only was the guy black, the very reason he is getting commemorated is his heroic activism on behalf of African-Americans. Right?

I’m just not comfortable with this monument at all. Surely, it would have been pretty easy to make it in a way that didn’t transform MLK into a white guy, wouldn’t it?

Russian Speakers on American Sports

N. and I went to my favorite restaurant in St.. Louis tonight. A group of sports fans came in.

“Have you been able to figure out what sport this Cardinals team plays?” I ask N.

“Well, there are only two possibilities, right?” he says. “We should be able to figure this out.”

For a while, we observe the fans in silence.

“Ah!” N. exclaims suddenly. “Look, the fans are wearing baseball caps!”

“So what?” I ask.

“So they must be baseball fans!” he responds triumphantly.

“Wow, you are smart,” I conclude.

I have been trying to remember what sport the Cardinals play for over two years. Now I think I will finally be able to keep it straight: it’s baseball.

Oral Sex As a Feminist Issue

Some of the weirdest attempts to explain human sexual preferences from an ideological viewpoint are related to oral sex. Here is a set of myths that surround oral sex and transform it into a quasi-feminist issue:

– Men who dislike giving oral sex to women are misogynist jerks.

– Men who love administering oral sex to women cannot possibly be misogynist jerks.

– Women who dislike receiving oral sex do not exist. If they do, they must be oppressed victims of patriarchy.

– Women who enjoy giving oral sex are subservient to men.

– The final destination of sperm during oral sex has ideological connotations.

– A true marker of whether a man is a feminist is how enthusiastically he gives oral sex to a woman and how willing he is not to ask for oral sex to be administered to him.

To me, all these attempts to bring people’s sexual preferences into the arena of ideology sound extremely bizarre. We keep making fun of the sexually repressed folks who say things like, “Of course, I don’t want my wife to have oral sex with me and then go kiss the kids with that same mouth.” But are we any different from them if we keep reading ideological meaning into sex acts?

If you want to figure out how feminist one is, believe me, looking at their oral sex practices is really not the way to do so. The manner in which they do or do not enjoy oral sex only tells you one thing about them: this is how they do or do not enjoy oral sex. Looking for  a more profound meaning in these practices is completely and utterly futile.

Hypocritical Much?

I just discovered a blogger who is appalled at the barbarity of parents who pierce their newborn girls’ ears but supports the parents’ “choice” to lop off parts of their newborn sons’ penises. According to this blogger the “particular gender-stamp” of pierced earlobes “is particularly abhorrent”, while chopping off bits of somebody else’s penis is not a big deal.

I agree completely that piercing a person’s earlobes without her consent is atrocious. However, in our Western civilization an earlobe and a penis carry very different sets of meanings. Inscribing your will on a child’s genitals is really not the same as doing it on her earlobe. This is a symbolic act that allows the parents to appropriate their newborn son’s sexuality in the most direct and indelible way imaginable.

It is really disturbing that some people believe in selective respect for bodily integrity. This kind of hypocrisy makes all of their pronouncements very suspect.

Autism-Friendly OB-GYNs

Nominatissima just published an absolutely fantastic post that provides a list of what OB-GYNs could do to make gynecological services more autism-friendly. I hope that as many people as possible read this post and then forward it to others, link to it or quote from it.

Visiting an OB-GYN is torture for an autistic person. I always keep putting off my appointment for as long as I can. I know that I’m placing myself at risk by doing so but the whole thing is very painful exactly for the reasons listed in Nominatissima’s enlightening post.

In grad school, I had on OB-GYN who kept making jokes during the whole process. Probably, she thought she was going to help me relax this way. However, I need a lot more time than an NT person to process a joke even under the most propitious of circumstances. In a high-stress environment such as an OB-GYN’s office, I’m really in no condition to process humor.

“Why aren’t you laughing? It’s funny, just laugh,” she kept saying. Honestly, it felt like badgering. And the problem is that when I feel badgered, I can’t speak. So you can imagine how much I enjoyed the whole situation.

The OB-GYN I got after I asked to be switched from the comedian was a chatty type. She was like one of those hair-dressers who seem to think that entertaining the customer with inane questions is part of the job description. Believe me, the last thing an autistic person wants to do when she lies there with her legs spread open and a stranger rummaging there for non-sexual purposes is to be questioned about stuff that has nothing to do with gynecological health. “So what are you doing for Labor Day?” is really not a necessary question to ask in this situation.

The next OB-GYN was an exclamatory type. You know those people who put an exclamation into every sentence? They are definitely not the kind of people you want to let anywhere near your genitals. “Ahha!”, “Ay yay yay!”, “Wow!” and “Ouch!” are not things you want to hear from a person who stares into your vagina. Comments of the “Hmmm. . . Interesting. . .” variety are also not necessary.

It would be great if people acquainted themselves with Nominatissima’s post and a conversation about how to make gynecological exams more bearable for autistics began.

Where Is Russia Headed?

Russia is not going in a good direction, people. A scary brand of religious fanaticism is promoted by the government that refuses to respect its citizens in any significant way and offers religious hysteria as compensation for depriving people of their most basic rights. The results of the so-called democratic elections are falsified and everybody knows it. (Everybody, that is, except American journalists who keep screeching about “democracy in Russia”, as if it weren’t the greatest joke of the recent decades.) The country produces nothing and only manages to keep afloat by exporting oil. My readers are an intellectual bunch, so I won’t explain why an economy that is tied to a single natural resource is hopeless.

Russia’s official ideology is profoundly racist. There is a widespread hysteria around the supposedly imminent extinction of the white people and the terrifying spread of the brown folks of scary and barbaric ethnicities. The Russians seem to have forgotten that only seventy years ago, Hitler was planning to exterminate all Slavs as an inferior, barbaric race. The so-called “demographic crisis” is discussed in the Russian media in such dramatic ways that you’d think the planet was on the brink of extinction as a result of depopulation (rather than the opposite.)

The Russian authorities are worried that the Russian women don’t procreate enough to make up for the advent of the brown people*. So they do all they can to force women into procreating. A while ago, I reported on the ridiculous campaign that attempted to shame women into having more children. As was to be expected, this was immediately followed by an assault on women’s reproductive freedoms. A piece of legislation is now being pushed through Duma (the Russian joke of a Parliament) that will impose waiting periods women have to submit to before getting an abortion and that will allow doctors to refuse to perform abortions on religious grounds**.

During the waiting period, a psychologist and a social worker will persecute women who seek abortions, telling them ridiculous fairy-tales about how they will be psychologically damaged for life if they refuse to have an unwanted child. This is a very poor country, mind you. Just think about how dedicated its government must be to the cause of stripping women of their reproductive freedoms if it’s willing to waste money on psychologists and social workers whose only job will be to hound women who request abortions.

Even though the healthcare system in Russia is free, abortions are now to be excluded from the list of free services. As a result, rich women will be able to be in control of when and whether they give birth, while indigent women (of whom Russia boasts staggering numbers) will be forced to procreate or seek clandestine, dangerous abortions.

There are millions upon millions of orphans in Russia. These children live in horrible conditions. Some are kept in orphanages that are so bad it would break your heart to see what they look from the inside and to hear what the poor kids kept there have to go through. As a result, many kids run away. They become homeless and are exploited in all kinds of ways by adult criminals.

The government that has done nothing to help these kids is now forcing indigent women to bring even more unwanted miserable babies into the world.

If this sounds completely nuts, I want to remind you that Russia imposes an obligatory period of military service on all its young males. Except, of course, the rich ones who can pay a bribe and get out of the military service obligations.

*If you are shocked by the rhetoric, that’s good. On my blog, at least, you’ll hear the actual terminology that is used in Russia to discuss these issues. The mainstream media in the US are so dedicated to promoting the myth of the democratic Russia that you don’t get to hear the truth from them.

** In the context of Russian history, this is the funniest thing anybody could suggest. After decades of complete and utter atheism during the Soviet era, people who are of the age that allows them to be doctors cannot possibly be religious in Russia today. 

Babying Adults

On this picture, you can see the building where my office is located. At this moment, it doesn’t look nearly as pretty as it does on the photo because we are undergoing major construction but you get the general idea.

You can see that there are balconies on the second and the third floor. Some professors (usually the ones who have been employed by the university the longest and have tenure) have a window and a door that leads to the balconies in their office.

The tenure-track faculty have windowless offices, which I think is fair because, like everything in life, a window has to be deserved.

The funny thing, though, is that the university refuses to give professors and even administrators the keys to the balcony doors located in their own offices. You have a balcony but you can’t use it. You can’t open the door and let some fresh air in, can’t go outside and walk on the balcony, or sit in the sun between classes. What the purpose of the balcony doors that nobody can access is remains a mystery.

Understandably, colleagues with balconied offices are upset. One has even threatened to pick the lock and gain access to the balcony that way. (This is precisely what I would have done in this situation.)

The university explained that the reason why professors and administrators are being denied keys to their balcony doors is that the school is watching out for their safety. I don’t know about you, but I find this explanation to be very offensive. Our tenured professors are highly educated, intellectual, reasonable people. They have traveled the world and manage to handle themselves well both at home and abroad. They get up in the morning, dress themselves, and go to work. They even remember to brush their teeth and wash their hair at regular intervals without anybody watching over them. I’m quite certain they can be trusted to walk out onto a balcony safely.

Seriously, what’s with the insulting babying of adults?