Sunday, August 30, 2009

Sunday Poetry Throwback

Wherein I dig through my high school and college poetry and try to find something with which to "entertain" the masses.

Late Night Coffee
i stare in silent wonder as the words come trip-traipsing through my mind
is it love
is it sex
is it just the smell of it all making me drunk on the moment
his smoky voice rises and falls with each inflection of every verb
but he leaves the nouns alone
and does untold wonders with the apostrophe
i cannot stand these emotions bottled up inside me
but if i let them out now i'll explode
so i stay in the drunken stupor of the moment
staring at the wildflowers and him
letting his verbs work their magic on my heart
and wishing...

ETA: Older and Wiser Commentary
As you can see, this was from my "capitalization and punctuation are for assholes" phase. Doesn't every aspiring poet go through that?

Freak in the Frame

My latest musician crush right here.
If you're in Houston you should definitely check out this awesome group. They perform most Sundays at Bohemeo's open mic.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Expecting Men to Not Be Assholes Does Not Mean I Hate Them

I have to admit, I’ve kind of been floored by the response to my Dear Het Men post. I wrote that poem/letter from a place of extreme pain regarding recent events, and I never really expected it to resonate with as many people, women and men, as it did. But then this morning, a dear friend of mine emailed me a link to that post with a small rant attached to it. To her, the post was man-hating and “ascribing stereotypical and untrue characteristics” to all men. To her, the author of the post gives all feminists a bad name.

She was just joking right? I mean, she had to know that it was really me and she was just pulling my leg. I sent her back a quick email asking if she was serious. She was.

Oof. I think an actual punch to the gut would have hurt less.

Admittedly, a big part of my subsequent hurt came because those weren’t just anyone’s words she was attacking, they’re mine. And it wasn't just some random person on the internet saying these things, she's a friend who knows I don't hate men. But it also hurt because I chose my words carefully. From the time I first put pen to paper until I hit submit in blogger, I was crossing stuff out and deleting whole lines and tweaking words and phrases left and right. Because I know not all men are monsters. My letter wasn’t meant to condemn men, but to tell them that at least one person expects men to be responsible for their own actions, even if society doesn’t.

When I wrote several months ago that,
Doctors (once again) are trying to protect women from themselves, when the evidence clearly shows that we do not. need. protecting.

No one commented back to me that not all doctors are like that and I shouldn’t tar all doctors with the same brush. Instead the comments were along the lines of, “You’re right, doctors shouldn’t do that. We need to call out that doctors who do that and support the doctors who don’t.” So what the fuck is the difference now that the subject is men?

And you know what, Dear Het Men wasn’t even about me. Yes, I’ve experienced some of what I wrote about, but what woman hasn’t?
Dear Het Men was about:
The women killed or injured by Sodini.
The Amish girls killed in Pennsylvania.
The women who interact with these men.
The women of Polytechnique.
The 1 in 6 women who are raped.
These women and their families.
The girls and women attacked with acid just for going to school.
These missing women. And these. And these. And these.
Women and girls who are raped as a tactic of war.
Every Woman and girl who spoke up here.
The girls forced to be child brides.
And every woman and girl who sees their bodies treated as less than every day of their lives.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

And Now For Something a Little Different

Check out these awesome sonnets devoted to genitalia over at filthy grandeur's spot:
o filthy grandeur!: How do I love thee, genitalia?

Friday, August 21, 2009


I was born a feminist into a conservative Republican household. Just the luck of the draw I guess. I remember in the 3rd grade standing up and questioning our resident Playground Lady why only the boys were asked to help move tables and chairs for school assemblies. And in college I would make sure to ask questions of guest speakers in my engineering department if I noticed that no female voices were being heard. I've referred to myself as a feminist at least since high school, and I would often argue with my dad growing up on why my brother was allowed to do certain things while I wasn't.

Despite the shocked exclamations of some friends, I refuse to not go out just because I can't find a friend or date to go with me. I've never accepted that there were things I couldn't do because I had a vagina instead of a penis. In fact, I was downright ecstatic when I found that, with a little practice, I could even pee standing up.

So what did I, the Great Red-Blooded American Feminist, do when in the middle of the day, in the middle of a bike ride, a man stopped me under the pretense of car trouble and tried to rape me? I did everything I had been taught to do in this situation since I was old enough to start being taught. I screamed "no" and fought and kicked and held him off long enough for other people to show up and scare him off. I followed through with the police, identified the man, and testified against him in court.

And I blamed myself.

It was what I did the most, and I started to do it just seconds after my attack was over. All the years of natural feminism and "girl power" and I couldn't stop from wondering how much I was to blame. I knew it wasn't my fault, but I still felt it was.

I was the "perfect victim" according to the District Attorney handling my case. I was well-educated, sober, and not provocatively dressed (unless of course Lycra shorts make you all hot and bothered, rawr). No one was supposed to be able to find fault with me, but I still found a way.

This is our culture. A person can do everything "right" and still find a way to blame herself. How ingrained is the misogyny; how subversive is the idea that only women are responsible for the violence perpetuated against them? How can there even be such a thing as the "perfect victim"?

Women have to defend themselves. Women can't drink too much, or at all. Women have to be careful what they wear. Women can't go anywhere without a chaperone or else they are fair game. If women don't want sex (or just don't want sex with a particular man or men in general) they are frigid and just need a good screw. If women do want sex they are sluts who are just asking for it, and they shouldn't lead men on by telling them no. If a woman is attractive she's a stuck up bitch if she refuses a man's advances. If she is less than attractive, she should thank her lucky start that any man would look twice at her. Women have to do this. Women can't do that. Our culture has failed all of us, and my privilege blinded me to this it until it failed me.

In my home state, a man raped at least 4 men and boys and was sentenced to 99 years in prison. In another state, a man raped at least 4 women and girls and was sentenced to 8 years and was out on parole in 5. A few weeks after his release, he found me. These cases don't share many details, and as noted aren't even in the same state, but why was there a 90+ year disparity between the sentences? Of course the 1st man deserved every year of his 99 year sentence, but why didn't my attacker deserve the same? Why was his sentence no longer than 8 years to begin with?

I spent 5 months blaming myself and falling deep into depression. I couldn't even talk to anyone about it because I was sure they would see just as plain as I did what I did wrong. It took me 5 months before I realized that I wouldn't change a damn thing about that day. Someone asked me for help and I stopped to help, and I would do it again. It is not my fault that someone turned out to be a rapist. It is not my fault if there is a rapist around when I am drinking. It is not my fault if there is a rapist around while I am wearing a low cut shirt. It is not my fault if the man I go on a date with is a rapist. It is not my fault if a man decided my "I do" means an everlasting "yes." It is not my fault. IT IS NOT THE VICTIM'S FAULT.

I just wish society would back me up on this.

So Maybe This Isn't A Bike Blog Afterall

When I originally set out to write this blog, it was really just supposed to be some funky little thing where I relate my surely epic adventures pedaling around Houston, with the occasional random post thrown in like drunken book reviews or whatever else struck my fancy. But as you can tell with the disconnect between the blog title and the the topic of most of my recent posts, some thing changed. The boring part of my explanation for this is that 1) I've been a total slacker when it comes to cycling, and 2) I barely wrote anything here for the 1st year so it doesn't take too many posts on a particular subject for it to become the dominant theme of the blog.

I also came to realize something about myself. I can live without bikes. Yeah, yeah. I know it sounds simplistic and obvious but bear with me here. If something happened to all my bikes tomorrow, or if something happened to me where I was no longer able to ride a bike, or if I just got bored or disgusted with cycling and decided never to get on a bike again, I'd be OK with that. Sure, I might stare wistfully if I see a nice ride or spot someone with sambas and a rolled up pant leg, but my life would still be just fine without bikes or cycling.

I can't say the same thing about feminism. If I had to live my life without feminism, I'd be even more angry and depressed all the time than I already am. I would hate men for being men, and I would probably hate women too. I might believe that women are just as good as men, but I would think there is something inherently wrong with femininity. I know this because I did think this for several years.

Feminism isn't something I can separate out of my life. It is my life and it informs my daily interactions. So yeah, I'm still going to have the occasional post about me flicking off cars, or bashing my head into some pavement. And I'll maybe even post the occasional poem whenever I'm feeling particularly antsy. But the majority of my posts are going to deal with me working through this patriarchal world as a woman. And you and my other 3 imaginary friends who read this blog are just going to have to deal with it.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Just Like Riding a Bicycle

In fact, it was riding a bicycle.

It's been a while since I last got on a bike. I could claim it's because I had 2 surgeries (one of them major) back to back, and I've only recently been cleared to do, well, anything. But really that only accounts for my slackerness since April. The 6 months before that I have no excuse for.

But anyways, I got back on a bike Sunday night and damn it just felt so good. It was only for a 6 mile round trip but as soon as I started turning those pedals I forgot all about the 10 minute argument I had with myself before I left the house. I don't really need to ride my bike tonight. I mean I went running yesterday and I have softball tomorrow night, plus it'll be dark by the time I'm coming home....

Once I was back on the goddess though, I forgot about all of that. She was so smooth and despite my neglect I didn't even have to tune her up at all. Just pump up the tires and wipe off the dust and cobwebs.

Now I just need to work on actually remembering to take my bike lock with me. Oh well, baby steps.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Dear Het Men,

You are not entitled to my body.
You do not deserve access into my pants.
I am not an object for you to receive or use as status.
If you find me attractive, I do not owe you a date.
If you find me unattractive, I do not owe you my invisibility.
I do not owe you anything, regardless of your feelings about me.

I am not a bitch for not being interested in you.
I am not a slut for dating someone other than you.
I am not your servant, trohpy, or mother if I do date you.

I am not to blame for your issues with women.
Women are not to blame for your issues with women.
We are not responsible for your inability to cope with rejection.
Stop blaming us.
It is not our fault.
We do not force you to do anything, just like you cannot force us.

Hopefully you've heard this all before.
But maybe no one's ever told you. Or you just never listened.
Whichever, hear what I am saying now.
Listen to these words.
Remember them. Memorize them.
Tattoo them on your goddamn forehead.

A person of the female variety

Update: See here.