Clarissa, the Swede

It turns out that students have been speculating about my place of origin. I mentioned from the start that I wasn’t a native speaker of Spanish in order to inspire them but said nothing beyond that.

“We think you are from Sweden! ” a student shared.
“No, I’m Ukrainian. ”
“But you’ve got to be from Sweden! ” another student chimed in. “The name, the hair,  the eyes …”
“What about my last name? ” I asked. “It’s obviously Slavic. ”
“We figured it was your husband’s name, ” students explained.
“No, it’s mine.”
“Why didn’t you take your husband’s last name? ”
“I have 5 degrees and many publications under this name, I couldn’t give that up” I started to explain.
“It’s because you are somebody, ” one student said quietly.

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Criticizing a Woman’s Body

After I grew desperate with The Nation, I decided to turn to that journalistic bastion of feminism that is Ms. Magazine. And what do I find on page 3? The following quote from somebody called Margaret Cho: “You criticize a woman’s body – and young girls see it, you murder us all inside. You are responsible for our slow genocide.”

The quote appears in a section called “Lest We Forget” and there is no indication that it’s meant to be facetious.

Just observe how the quote insists that it’s a woman’s body – not her intellect, her strength, her career, her education or her finances, but specifically, the body – that shouldn’t be criticized. What can we deduce from that? A woman is her body and absolutely nothing else. You express a criticism of that body, and you have destroyed the woman because there is nothing else to her. Just her figure. What an incredibly feminist approach.

I’m glad that “feminists” of this caliber haven’t managed to convince me that all there is to me is my body. Otherwise, I would have already killed myself against a wall after reading the messages of all the trolls who decided to reveal to me the fascinating news that I’m fat.

I’ve got to wonder, why would anybody give others so much power over her life by reacting to comments about her body like they really have genocidal value? So somebody doesn’t like your body. Unless you are specifically interested in having sex with that person, why would you even care?

About the Elections

I have a mountain of objections to Obama’s second term as President of the country that is now my country, too. There is one argument in favor, though, and it’s a really huge one: the Supreme Court.

The next President will have a chance to seat one and maybe even two Supreme Justices (some people say three, but I don’t think that’s realistic). When I imagine that SCOTUS can get even more conservative than it is now, I get terrified.

So my suggestion is as follows: when you are about to vote, repeat to yourself 3 times “the Citizens United decision” and then decide how you want to cast your ballot.

Honorably Mentioned

My university had an honorable mention in the New York Times today. I can’t link because I’m walking in St. Louis as I write this but it’s true.

All of those people who said mean things about my university: in your face, ignoramuses. We are just getting started, too. Before long, we will become a lot more famous, and all the negativity-mongers will have to bite their useless tongues.

Economy or Contraception?

I get so annoyed with the shoddy writing, careless arguments, and unreliable research of mainstream journalists that I’ve been canceling my subscriptions left and right (pun intended). The only two EngIish-language subscriptions I have left now are The London Review of Books and The Nation.

Today, I open The Nation and try to accompany a raspberry mocha with the perusal of some interesting political commentary. And what do I find on Page 1? The following profound insight regarding Sandra Fluke’s Congressional testimony: “For most women, it is the economy, not contraception, that is the paramount concern.”

Headdesk, headdesk, headdesk.

It is only in the confused mind of this journalist that the recent discussions about contraception and the state of the economy have somehow ended up as completely different and even competing concerns. Everybody else (if we are going to generalize anyways, then I’m entitled to my generalizations) has managed to notice that the issue is precisely whether women with limited financial means will have access to contraception through their employers’ insurance.

Contraception is and always was indissolubly linked to the economy. A certain segment of the population will always be able to buy contraceptives, no matter how expensive they get and travel to an abortion clinic that is located in another state or even abroad. The war on contraception does not affect us all equally, which is why choosing whether we care more about the economy OR the contraception is completely useless.

While contraception is linked to the economy, the connection works the other way round, too. For women, the only way to acquire the simple capacity to compete in the market is to have constant and reliable access to contraception. Undermining women’s access to contraception equals removing women as valid competitors for jobs and resources. As a woman, you can’t care about the economy without caring about contraception. It’s physiologically impossible.

The Hunger Games as a Traditional Fairy Tale

I didn’t have time before to read what The Last Psychiatrist had to say about The Hunger Games but now that he came by the blog in person, I have. As usual, he offers brilliant insights:

The traditional progressive complaint about fairy tales like Cinderella is that they supposedly teach girls to want to be princesses and want to live happily ever after.  But is that so bad?  The real problem with fairy tales is that the protagonist never actually does anything to become a princess.  . . The clear problem with this isn’t that girls will want to hold out for a Prince, but that it might foster the illusion their value is so innately high that even without pretty clothes or a sense of agency a Prince will come find them. Sleeping Beauty and Snow White are worse: they don’t even have to bother to stay alive to get their Prince.

This is precisely the problem with the traditional discourse of femininity. Where I disagree with The Last Psychiatrist is his desire to attribute the blame for this state of affairs to the patriarchy, the society and “the system.” However, as we see from the authorship and the audience of The Hunger Games, this image of womanhood as willingly denying one’s own agency in order to be serviced by the universe is created and promoted, first and foremost, by women themselves.

Cinderella is not a story that men tell to women. It’s a tale that women tell to each other and to themselves. Just think about it. Why would a man find the story attractive? What is there in it for him if he is not a foot fetishist? But what a pleasing dream for a woman! You sit there, doing nothing to take control of your life, and suddenly everything somehow works out perfectly.

As feminists, we all know the demeaning, offensive, harshly negative characteristics of the patriarchy. Now, we have to grow more vigilant about everything that is attractive about it. And we need to stop getting seduced by its promise of liberating us of the burdens of agency and responsibility.

I have now read the last book in The Hunger Games series and the ending of the trilogy bears out The Last Psychiatrist’s observations on the novel completely.

[MAJOR SPOILER AHEAD!]

A 30-year-old Katniss has even less agency than she did at 16. She has children because her husband really wants them and talks her into it. That’s a fitting development for a fake feminist hero like her.