And It’s Only October 15. . .

I just had the following schizoid exchange with a student through email.

“Professor Clarissa, is it OK if I send the midterm tomorrow in the morning?”

“Of course.”

“Of course it’s OK or of course it isn’t OK?”

“You have my permission to submit the midterm tomorrow.”

“Are you sure?”

The Real Victim

My students are in urgent need of at least one course in feminist theory. No form of analysis is as difficult for them as the one that has to be conducted through some sort of a feminist perspective.

See the following example from a Senior Assignment:

It is true that Juan brutally kills Maria but isn’t he the real victim in this case? Maria gave him reason to be jealous of her, forcing him to kill her. After being victimized in this way, is it so surprising that Juan was driven to kill her?

The author of this passage is female.

The reader of the passage is horrified and doesn’t know how to respond.

My Peruvian Parents

Today I decided to call my parents. I dialed their number and heard a strange woman’s voice.

“¡Hola! ¿Quién es?” the woman said.

“This is weird,” I thought. “Since when does my mother speak Spanish?”

While I was pondering this question, the Spanish-speaking woman hung up. Once again, I dialed my parents’ number and the same strange woman responded.

I looked at the screen of my phone. As usual, it said,


(514) my parents’ number

but under these familiar lines, in the spot where the screen normally says, “Montreal, QC”, it said


I have no idea what this means and where my phone found these Peruvian folks. I also have absolutely no idea why the phone identifies them as my parents. It’s a good thing I was never one of those people who fantasize that they have been adopted and that their real parents are living somewhere in a different part of the world.

Is Good Spelling Classist?

Everything has the capacity to victimize these days. Even the apostrophes reveal their nasty classist nature. At least, some people think they do:

If it offends your delicate literary sensibilities to see “you’re” in place of “your,” or “it’s” instead of “its,” find a job as a copyeditor. Not everyone has the same education or background as you, or might not be native speakers of English (my dad’s family isn’t). I understand the need to write as cleanly as possible if you want your words to reach and audience, but someone’s Facebook page is hardly prize-winning material. A slip up here and there is understandable. This is one of the subtle ways classism creeps into the progressive blogosphere.

Since we are trading victimizations here, I object to the quoted statement in my capacity as an immigrant. The idea that immigrants are especially likely to make mistakes with the apostrophe in English is evidence of a blatant anti-immigrant bias. Apostrophe-confusion is a problem that English-speakers have. Among my students, I cannot remember a single instance when an immigrant confused “it’s” and “its.” The use of the apostrophe to mark possession is one of the very first things one is taught in English classes.

I also have to report that I never saw any difference between the frequency of these mistakes among my rich students at Yale and my poor students at State U.

People who write “you’re” instead of “your” are not victims of any sort of classist or anti-immigrant bias. They are simply lazy, careless writers who do not respect their readers.

The Nobel Peace Prize

Is there anything more hilarious than the Nobel Peace Prize?

I thought that the most bizarre decision ever was to award it to Yasser Arafat, Shimon Peres, and Yitzhak Rabin in 1994. Can you imagine anything more dismissive? “Go on, folks, take this consolation prize and pretend like there is no conflict between you.”

And then the Prize went to Obama in 2009. Even Obama himself had no idea what that was all about. But he did everything he could to deserve the prize in the next 4 years by bombing everything in and out of sight.

This year, the Prize has reached a new height of weirdness when it was awarded to the European Union. Am I missing something or has it been renamed into the “Nobel Conflict Prize”?

Impossible II

What really gets to me is the self-righteousness of the anti-choice folks.

“That bad, mean Clarissa doesn’t even want to hear out my super-convincing and inoffensive arguments as to why she is not human. How intolerant of her!” they screech with self-righteous indignation.

They sincerely feel deprived and trampled upon when I refuse to discuss the percentage of my humanity with them.


Somebody is using my blog as an example that “abortion debate is not possible.”

Of course, it isn’t possible, you weird creature. Do you consider a debate on whether you are human possible? Or a debate on whether you should meekly accept the status of a breeding pig in our society? Or a discussion on whether you should be happy if the government decides to invade your body?

I don’t want a debate with you or with anybody as to whether I have the right to control my own body. But I’m always willing to discuss how fun it would be to invade yours. Maybe chop off a few pieces for the benefit of humanity.

Are you up for that debate or is it only the invasion of female bodies that you dig discussing?