Tag Archives: privilege

oh, tiger beatdown!

Basically, this movie seems very much like some guy – let us call him, for legal reasons, “Phlames Phlameron” – sat down and was like, “well, I like Star Wars. And I like masturbating to old copies of National Geographic. If only there were some way for me to combine these interests!”

Reasons I Laughed Out Loud, Offending Several Fellow Patrons, During The Major Motion Picture “Avatar.” @ Tiger Beatdown

“Avatar really did look like a Lisa Frank binder had sex with a mid-’80s sci-fi paperback cover and their baby threw up on your face, which was great.”

links from livejournal!

As a general rule, the links I bring to you come to me via (a) someone on livejournal or (b) Google reader, in that order of frequency. (The exception would be the links that my ex-bf sends to me… although I don’t know if I’ve actually put up any of them on the blog yet. Hi, ex-bf!)

sutlers discusses criticism of Avatar and the denial of native cultures’ agency in popular media. (See also: When Will White People Stop Making Movies Like Avatar? A question to which we’d all like to know the answer.)

gabrielleabelle‘s Sunday Link Posts are a great resource for current discussion about rape in the media and blogosphere. A highlight from this week’s update is What Part of No Do You Still Not Understand? Date Rape in the time of Kobe, roofies, and Girls Gone Wild, a surprisingly level-headed discussion of date rape in a major news publication (LA Weekly). I am so sad that I just typed that. Good breakdown of the Koss study and more recent corroborating research, although bad dismissal of male survivors. :/

rm updates frequently with links that are moderately random but always interesting: topics include but are not limited to fandom, glbt issues, sexism, racism, representation of women in the media, infuriating things in the NYT (often a subsection of the previous topics), and Torchwood. She is a writer, actor, independent scholar, and professional badass, so I doubly recommend her journal.

– Not exactly political but brought a huge smile to my face: Things I Learned From Holly by theuglyvolvo. Truly lovely, rich piece about pomegranates and the process of peeling them. Also, life, you know, that stuff. Tragically standard warnings about heteronormativity apply.

– Now I want to write a poem that rhymes “heteronormativity” with “nativity.” Sadly, that is beyond the scope of this blog post. (Or maybe a rap number? Does one of y’all DJ? Perhaps we should ask Victor…)


I’m having one of those weeks where I keep visualizing cases and correspondingly have a burning need to use prepositions correctly. Lingua latina, meos soxores non roxaris. (Were you aware that “r0x0r” is a deponent verb? Well… it is now.)


Further posts of substance may have to wait until after Christmas, but of course now that I’ve said that I’ll end up posting something anyway. EITHER WAY… if you’re celebrating a holiday now, I wish you a lovely one!

the unbearable fatness of being

Sometime in late 2007 or early 2008, I started following Fatshionista, a community on livejournal dedicated to plus-size fashion. There was a recent kerfluffle when the moderators decided to restrict OOTD (out of the day) posts to members who wear a US size 16 or higher. This alienated a substantial minority of its members, self-described “inbetweenies” who fall in the gap between plus sizes and straight sizes. The heretofore largely sedate sister community, Inbetweenies, was suddenly flooded with new members – many of whom were not pleased with the new state of affairs over at Fatshionista. Despite being at the smaller end of the size range at Fatshionista, inbetweenies had previously made up a significant percentage of OOTD posters, and the wake that trailed behind them as they moved to new ground was substantial.

The mods at Fatshionista had good reasons to change their previously more open-ended size cap. Fatshionista is a size-positive community; it’s not a place for people to come and feel good about themselves because they’re not as fat as “some” people. The mods also wanted to make people who were solidly plus-size feel welcome. While I’m wholly supportive of Fatshionista’s decision, I’m also one of the inbetweenies who can no longer post there.

This post is not another episode of “The Passion of the Inbetweenie”; I’m less interested in exploring the politics of Fatshionista’s new policy and more in investigating what it means to exist in this liminal state somewhere between marginalization and acceptance. For many years, I struggled with my participation in LGBT organizations — not because I was concerned about supporting the community, but because I didn’t feel like I was “queer enough.” I vacillated between taking an “ally” or a “bi pride” button every time Pride Alliance tabled in ye olde student center. Then I started making “pretty, witty, and christian!” rainbow buttons for my campus ministry’s table and decided that worrying about LGBT welcome and inclusivity in my community was more productive that staying up all night worrying about the tokenization of bisexuality in Katy Perry lovin’ college environments. (At this point, I think I’d have to elope with Cyndi Lauper to Iowa to feel adequately gay.)


Me at the Prop 8 protest in St. Louis, November ’08.

It’s a lot harder to negotiate the liminality of fatness, though, because it’s so subjective, and unlike your sexual preferences, kinda out there on display. When I said proudly in class, on embodiment day, “I’m fat,” was I reclaiming language for myself, or just promoting body hate? When I still look at myself, in the mirror, what does it mean that I see that I am fat, as opposed to, I dunno, middlingy? I love my body. I love that I have the gifts of mobility, sight, hearing, taste, touch, smell, although several of those are limited or have been in the past by my disabilities. I want to be able to say, “Yeah, my body doesn’t fit into straight sizes real well, and it has fat weird places, but I’m proud of it and what I can do!” I want to reclaim fatness.

I’m just not sure if fatness is mine to reclaim.

I encourage you, gentle readers, to reply if you feel so moved; I’m interested in hearing your thoughts.

link round-up

I’m in the middle of writing two other posts (the unbearable fatness of being/FWD post FINALLY FOR REALSIES), but a ton of cool links showed up on my radar today:

James Chartrand’s Constructed Masculinity Goes Far Beyond the Pen Name. Great coverage of the freelancing Bronte of our times and related Sexism Yay.

Marginalized folks shouldn’t always have to be “the bigger persons.” I am sad that this needs saying. But, hell yes, OP.

Ghosts of Shopping Past. Decaying malls! Consumerism thwarted and defied by nature! Longtime peeps know that I am all about the urban decay. And not just the makeup line. One of my favorite urbex/urban decay photographers is Rana X.

Readability is an AWESOME script that simplifies webpages and makes them much easier to read. Amazing accessibility tool. Certain fanfic websites, you will now be way easier on the ol’ eyes.

reading dudes

I just redid my livejournal, so I decided that this blog deserved a reciprocal souping up. I’m quite happy with the layout, and I encourage you to check it out!


I read Lev Grossman’s The Magicians shortly after I returned home (to Chicago) post Thanksgiving, and I am probably going to read it again on the plane home (to Orlando) this afternoon. I’ve been mulling over how to talk about it for two weeks now; this isn’t exactly my final word on the book, but it’s good enough to get started.

About three years ago, when I was working in Wash U’s library and processing new books, I realized that I was reading an awful lot of cisgender male authors. Without thinking too much about the implications, I decided that I was going to go out of my way to read female-identified authors (all other non-cisgender-male flavors of the gender spectrum being equally awesome, but not consciously on my radar at that point), because it seemed kind of silly. As a classicist, I was already trawling through a lot of dead white* dudes. This was also the summer that I read Cunt by Inga Muscio, because that is a book that all college ladies who like women and gender studies love, subsequently desiring giant posters of daisies to put up on their walls, at least if by “all college ladies” you mean “Olga.” Although I can’t say that I took anything directly from my reading material at the time (aside from the fact that the reason I’ve always thought Che Guevara was hot is that he looks like one of my ex-boyfriends – see: processing the new books) , I had become more aware of what I was reading, and more importantly, what our library was buying.

Right now, I read a lot of stuff by non-cisgender-dudes (let’s call ’em NCDs), even without taking into account that Most Fanfic Writers Are Girls. Part of this is that my reading tends to center around my academic work; part of this is just due to the fact that I tend to prefer books written by NCDs for whatever reason. I could never get past The Hobbit because even the promise of slashy subtext could not compensate for 700 pages of dudes slogging through a forest or whatever. The best part of that shit was Legolas’s hair, and Orlando Bloom was not in the book. Back on topic. When I do read books by cisgender dudes, I’m conscious of their gender identity, albeit in casual way. Terry Pratchett’s CD status would never put me off a Discworld book.

My friend H. Susanne Moore sold The Magicians to me with promises of drunk magic students making fun of Quidditch. Like I could refuse that. So I began the book with few expectations aside from meta magical boarding school lulz. I didn’t look at the jacket flap — actually, I still haven’t looked at the jacket flap, even though the book is within grabbing distance. TOO BAD, GENTLE READERS. For the first half of the book, I though it was going to be like Harry Potter with booze and sex, so I was taken by surprise as the book slowly veered away from the obvious path into a serious meditation on what fantasy means and the implications of power with few limits or purpose.

The Magicians is a really, really good book; I recommended it a few posts back cheek-by-jowl with The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, which is a smart and sassy feminist coming-of-age story, and my favorite book of 2007. I lend it to everyone. Like The Disreputable History, The Magicians ends with the main character having reached a place of knowledge rather than a “happy” ending. Frankie’s story is written for a younger audience, although it translates wonderfully to older readers; Quentin’s story is darker. The story doesn’t resolve with the conclusion of the novel; instead, we’re left with more questions than we ever had answers. They’re good questions. They messed me up for a few days, in the best kind of way. Like I said: a good book.

WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD
But it’s not quite as simple as that, of course. The Magicians is also incredibly and disconcertingly sexist. Although the most powerful magician in the story’s world is a woman, the female characters are never truly developed or explained to the reader. The magician in question sacrifices herself to save her (CD) lover, who is a jerk who cheated on her and has been spending his time post-graduation loafing aimlessly around NYC. The female characters in the book serve as objects of male sexual desire, symbols of motherhood, and/or they die. They are defined by their relationships to men: mother, sister, hot teacher, daughter, lover, sexual conquest, whatever. It’s pretty bleak for a gal in Fillory, NYC, Brakebills, wherever she goes in the magical world, or outside it.
SPOILERS CONCLUDE

I love this book. And I want to read it, think about it, discuss it, take it apart. But it’s like a barrel full of apples and some of them are the most delicious and some of them are rotten to the core. I came away with good questions, but I also came away with questions I didn’t want to have to ask: where are we? why are we invisible? why aren’t our questions important? why does my cunt make me pure and self-sacrificing and dirty and deranged? Also, dead.

I don’t have a daisy on my wall.

*Although we tend to forget that a lot of the Roman empire was, you know, Africa/the Middle East. I’m not sure how many authors from that area were of Italian descent (probably a good handful), but there were certainly people indigenous to those areas writing at that time, albeit those raised and educated in Roman imperial culture. Somebody has probably written about this, but I am heading out to the airport in three hours, so I do not have time to J-STOR.

when necessary use words

Ravenswood Community Services, which operates out of my church, All Saints Episcopal, was recently featured in two articles which appeared in New York TImes via the Chicago News Cooperative:

“Outside a World of Wealth Stands the Reality of Hunger”
“Vandalism at Food Pantry Shows Best and Worst of People “


You know, it’s really tempting to make broad generalizations. It’s really tempting to talk about RCS as though it’s a group of Robin Hoods, robbing the sidewalk space of a wealthy neighborhood to *gasp!* feed “the poor.” You know, “the poor” who need our help, our charity? Yeah, this is totally a story you’d like to read. It’s a feel-good story; you can feel righteous anger toward the family with the carriage house across the street, while you sympathize with the line of hungry men and women and children who wait patiently for generously proffered bounty.

That story is also bullshit.


Our neighbors are neither rich jackasses nor voiceless Jacob Riis photographees, okay? Everyone in our neighborhood IS A NEIGHBOR, IS A PERSON, whether they come in for dinner or just live down the block. Even if they did, actually, complain to the alderman about the people waiting outside of the church on Tuesday nights. I don’t care. If those people showed up, I would still welcome them in. We are not in the business of “rescuing” people or fighting the good fight against the indolent bourgeoisie around us. We… feed people. Who are hungry. Who need food. Physical bread, spiritual bread, it’s all good. On Tuesday nights, we have food.

On Tuesday nights, we also have coffee. I work with Betty, who volunteers social work services every other week; on those nights, I head up beverages with a rotating cast of assistants. I have the privilege of keeping my schedule free on Tuesday nights. As a graduate student, I may actually make less money than some of our neighbors. (Actually, I’m pretty sure that’s the case.) But I have social capital that they don’t. I have a safety net, hard-won as it is. So I make the coffee. One of our neighbors sets up the cold water, the hot tea. And our other neighbors help me carry the coffee out, help me wipe the table, bring me the empty carafes and sugar bowls: we work together.


Here’s one of my favorite blessings, which we used at my campus ministry from time to time:

The Wisdom of God,
the Love of God,
and the Grace of God
strengthen us
to be Christ’s hands and heart in this world,
in the name of the Holy Trinity.


Sometimes, I really feel like every sermon I ever give, and every essay I ever write boils down to the same thesis: “shut the fuck up and actually do some shit, you guys.”

Or, as St. Francis said more eloquently: “Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.”


I’m glad to see that, in his follow-up article, Mr. Warren seems to have considered the power of his words, even if he isn’t checking his class privilege quite so much. Although the vandalism is very unfortunate, it did not do any permanent damage, and no one is holding any grudges. It’s sad that a window had to get broken and a church had to get flooded for someone to point this lack of grudge-holding out.

sexy tudors, fwd, & how to get olga from zero to pissed off in under a minute

This blog hasn’t gone to sleep for the holidays. Mostly, I just got sick and went crazy, which is pretty par for the course for finals, but is no less nervewracking and energy-expending.


Help yourself to some Sexy Tudors.


Something to look forward to: I have been asked to write a guest post for FWD/Forward by my friend Anna, which will show up sometime in the next week or two. I will definitely link to it from here, but I encourage you to check out FWD if you haven’t already! Right now, I’m trying to decide what to write about.

I also totally forgot to submit an abstract for Slayage. Rats. Oh well. I will go anyway, and have a good time, and not have to stress about presenting a paper.


Next time on the olgablog: a really angry post about the treatment of Ravenswood Community Services and our neighbors in the NYT/Chicago Tribune. RCS is what I do every Tuesday night. It is not about “rescuing” the “unfortunate.” Jesus said, “Take, eat–” This shit ain’t rocket science. We are all children of God, ok? Likewise, please don’t make condescending statements about those with whom we share this neck of the woods – we work hard to have a good relationship with them. This is not about a battle between bourgeois hypocrisy and the victims of poverty. And suggesting this, o NYT writer… just makes you look like a dick.