People With No Lives

My Statcounter shows me that yet another idiot has been entering

clarissa hispanic studies mcgill illinois yale

into a search engine, trying to figure out who I am. Some people are so devoid of anything that can even remotely pass for a life that it’s scary.

There is a blogger whose blog I read all the time and love a whole lot. This is somebody who works in my field. It would have been very easy for me to find out this person’s real name. But it would never occur to me to waste energy on doing that. If she wants to communicate her name to me, she will do so. If not, I’m more than content with not knowing it.

This is why I simply don’t get why people would waste their lives on investigating anonymous bloggers they have no chance of meeting. Do they see their time as so completely lacking in value?

I especially love it when these weirdos send me triumphant messages informing me of what my name is. Yes, I know what it is, losers. You just wasted time letting me know something of which I’m well aware.

Some people urgently need to get a life.

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How Utterly Depressing

How completely and utterly horrifying:

Once the 2007-2009 recession hit, the female retreat from the workforce halted for a couple of years: Women and men alike returned to the workforce when their spouses lost jobs or when their incomes fell, and also to make up for a loss in the value of housing and stocks.

But as the economy stabilized in the past two years, there have been signs that the retreat has resumed, Albanesi said. Of all working-age women, 58.6 percent were either working or looking for a job in 2010, down from 59.2 percent in 2009. The Bureau of Labor Statistics expected the rate to fall further by 2020.

According to Albanesi, it’s not the tug of looking after young children that makes most educated women give up their career.

“These women usually give up their jobs when their children are school-age and not babies any more,” Albanesi said.

This means that 40% of adult women do not work. Can that be true?

Well, what can you expect when even feminists are chirping merrily about the joys of being a kept object at a man’s disposal with no life of their own.

Jeez, people, this is so depressing. I still cherish some hope, though, that this study is a conservative fake aimed at convincing women that it’s normal not to have a professional and social realization because their husband has one. The last lines of the article this quote is from makes me think that might be true:

“Stay-at-home wives are a status symbol for men. The opposite is not true.”

This might have been true 50 years ago. Today, however, one never gets to meet a man who doesn’t feel intensely uncomfortable and apologetic over owning a kept woman instead of sharing his life with a partner who is an equal and a fully valid human being.

Down the Ranks

Am I too sensitive if I’m bothered by an email that tells administrators to “hand this information down the ranks”?

I don’t really see myself as being beneath anybody on this campus. Or anywhere else. A Dean, a Chancellor and the President of the US are not “above” me. They just have a different job, and there is no guarantee that they are doing it better than I do mine.

“Mieeeeess!”

This interesting post on how students address their teachers really hit home with me. I don’t care how I’m addressed as long as students don’t use this very annoying “Miss”, which they pronounce as “Mieeeeess!” It takes all I’ve got not to bark that I haven’t been a “Miss” for longer than they have lived.

I also can’t wait to announce in my classes that I am now exactly twice as old as my 18-year-old students. I already see some male members of the student body making googly eyes at me, so this should be a sobering reminder that I’m an ancient old boring lady. In exactly two weeks, I will be able to make that announcement. (This is a hint that people should remember to wish me a Happy Birthday on April 18.)

“Niceness Police”

I just found a great post addressing an issue that has bugged me for a long time:

I have long been a critic of the “niceness police” who regularly patrol online forums. Such figures are often hung up on “tone” to a pathological degree, dismissing arguments based on an overly harsh tone while completely ignoring objectively “mean” statements that are stated in a superficially more even-handed style — and of course, they always feel empowered to cast personal aspersions on the person supposedly guilty of “meanness.”

I agree with this blogger completely. I write passionately, honestly, intensely, and aggressively. On the one hand, this is something that really helps me because I can channel my aggression into my writing instead of letting it fester and eventually damage my health. On the other hand, I am absolutely convinced that one of the reasons why my blog has become so popular so fast is precisely that I don’t mince words and many people identify with my passion.

There are blogs whose authors are so dedicated to the goal of being as inoffensive and mild as possible that you have to get through several paragraphs full of apologies and disclaimers before you arrive at the point that the author is actually trying to make. It is perfectly fine to write this way and to prefer to read such blogs. If you identify with this “Excuse me for existing” position, that is your right. What is not OK, however, is to descend on the blogs of  people who write differently and try to police their styles of writing.

The funny thing about the enforcers of niceness is that they are just as aggressive as the passionate, angry writers like myself:

Of course, the highlight is the omnipresent concern-trolling, the patronizing recommendations that “you’ll attract more flies with honey,” etc. The entire strategy of the niceness police is a strategy of delegitimation, a performance that places the niceness police on the side of reason and moderation while the violator is an irrational, easily irritated crank.

The representatives of the niceness police are incapable of being honest and direct about their aggression. This is why they don’t challenge your opinions head on but, instead, try to shut you up by addressing the form of your utterances, rather than their content.

The Great Gatsby

If you are consulting this post because you need to write an essay or hand in an assignment at school, not only are you a cheater and a fraud, you are also an idiot. Essays and book reports based on my readings get people very low grades. And you are too young and too stupid to understand why that is.

Reader el asked me to write about one of my favorite books, The Great Gatsby. I read it a long time ago, so bear with me if I get some minor details wrong.

F.S. Fitzgerald’s greatest novel is a powerful response to people who believe that money can buy social mobility. Gatsby, whose parents were “”shiftless and unsuccessful farm people” attempts to buy access to a higher social class with his new-found money and fails miserably. He can purchase a huge house, organize lavish parties, and get the people whose social status he covets to attend but he cannot become one of them. His sensibilities will always be those of a poor farm boy from North Dakota who dreams of accessing a way of life that he has only seen from afar and cannot even hope to comprehend fully.

Like a poor person who makes some money and immediately buys a huge plasma screen TV to signal his social mobility (without realizing that the people whose social class he wants to join don’t even watch television), Gatsby tries to massage Daisy’s incomprehensible reality into a familiar narrative of a life-long monogamous bond. It is crucial for him that Daisy state publicly that she never loved her husband. Gatsby needs her to participate in the creation of his fairy-tale of “for better or for worse, they lived happily ever after, and died on the same day.”

Daisy, of course, is incapable of understanding why this is so important to him because this petit bourgeois dream of Gatsby’s is not something she can share. A search for a monogamous partner for life is crucial for the representatives of the lower classes who cherish hopes of upward mobility. Life is tough for such people, and joining forces with a partner you can rely on is very important.

Please don’t think that I’m trying to denigrate this petit bourgeois dream of monogamy and social mobility. It is my reality and my dream, too. I identify with Gatsby here and not with the spoiled, rich, satiated Yalies and Southern belles who have had everything handed to them on a diamond-studded platter and who are too bored even to have sex, like Nick and Jordan.