Monthly Archives: August 2014

Yesterday, I came across a blog post in which someone “as a father” wrote that he was disappointed in Nicki Minaj because, by showing the cheeks of her buttocks on the cover of her new single (Do they even have “covers” for “singles” nowadays?) she is a bad role model for little girls like his own.

Nicki Minaj? A role model? Guy, have you been sleeping under a rock? Forget the buttocks, have you heard the lyrics?

Big dope dealer money, he was getting some coins

Was a shooter with the law, but he live in a palace

Bought me Alexander McQueen, he was keeping me stylish

from “Anaconda” by Nicki Minaj

Now, I don’t want to act like I’m a humorless old lady and pretend that I don’t know that this is art, fiction, creative writing and is not meant to encourage young people to become criminals any more than a Jim Thompson novel, and I take it in a similar vein as adult entertainment. Her foul-mouthed persona is nothing new. Unlike some other current musical stars, she was never on a children’s show. She’s more like a classic case of someone who worked hard for years to become an “overnight sensation.” Meanwhile, one of her most innocuous songs, “Starships”, has a repeating line, “We’re higher than a motherfucker.”

Jump in my hooptie hooptie hoop

I own that

And I ain’t paying my rent this month

I owe that

But fuck who you want, and fuck who you like

That’s our life, there’s no end in sight

– from “Starships” by Nicki Minaj

I confess, if I was still in my club hopping days when this song came out, I would have really enjoyed dancing to this. Another one of her more popular songs had the following line:

He just gotta give me that look, when he give me that look

Then the panties comin’ off, off, uh

– from “Super Bass” by Nicki Minaj

(Just spoke to my mother on the phone. “Oh, Nicki Minaj, I like her. She has some dirty lyrics though.”)

I mean, come on folks, we’re talking about someone who’s known for signing her fans’ tits.

Nicki told The Sun: “I think boobs are very empowering – and signing them is even more empowering. I’ve been doing it for years.”

She then added: “Wherever I go, I sign boobs!”

On the subject of being a role model, she said to Ellen DeGeneres, “I’m not their parents.” She also said that she writes for an adult audience. Where did this notion that every actor, singer and rapper has to be a role model? Did anyone worry that Mick Jagger was not a good role model for young people back in his heyday? Or Frank Sinatra for that matter?

So, why do I care? In her new song, “Anaconda,” we hear a female voice, it doesn’t sound like Minaj, but she’s trained as an actor and is known for doing different characters so I can’t be sure. This catty voice with a valley girl accent says, “Oh my God, look at her butt.” I know that tone and I’ve heard those words. I’m also aware that while women are often telling me that my ass is too big, heterosexual men seem to think it’s fine. However, the apparent approval of heterosexual men has never stopped women from being catty to me about my “big butt.”

We talk so much these days about having a positive body image, so why all the body shaming being tossed at Minaj? A few months ago, when I saw an article about Taryn Brumfitt and her desire to make a documentary that changes the way women feel about their bodies, I thought to myself, “That’s nice, but will it work?” We can say all we want that girls should have a positive body image, but what will actually accomplish that? As a woman with a big butt that has been told many times how I should feel ashamed of it, I think Minaj’s song could do more good than all the lectures. Yes, it’s irreverent, and that’s part of the point. Maybe we all need a song that celebrates the body part the media tells us we’re supposed to be ashamed of, whichever one that might be for us.

Large busted women have discussed the stereotypes and insults thrust on them. The ass is considered such a demeaning part of the body, women with “good” asses are not even allowed to discuss it, even though I’ve had strangers in bars think the size and shape of my ass alone is an invitation to give it hard slap. When I was young, this happened so often I never even really gave it much thought. It was just something you accepted as the price of going out.

So, fathers, the thing you really need to worry about is whether or not your daughters will grow up to hate their bodies, a much more common problem than being a sexy rap star.

(I’ll just add a sour note here that Minaj does men no favors with the “Anaconda” reference.)

A painting of a woman from the back.

I can relate.

You may have noticed that I tend to get my nose a little out of joint, okay, a lot out of joint, when people complain about some stupid thing that Americans always do, especially if it’s not something that I’ve witnessed much myself. Now, some time ago, an Englishman complained to me about having his spelling corrected by Americans although it was perfectly correct by British standards. Even worse, according to him, was that some people “corrected” him when he used the word black, telling him that the proper term was “African-American”, even though he was not talking about an American.

“Pshaw!” I said. “Just because some idiot said something stupid, suddenly there’s this terrible thing we Americans do! Harrumph!” And with that, I got my nose as displaced as in a Picasso portrait.

Now, lo and behold, I just saw a similar mistake in The Daily Beast. Emily Shire criticizes the feminist site Jezebel for having double standards due to a post, “Disney Dudes’ Dicks: What Your Favorite Princes Look Like Naked.” Personally, it strikes me as so weird I’m not sure it can even rise to the level of a double standard. It struck me as the sort of things girls might giggle about at the age when the only penises you’ve seen were in photographs. I have a vague recollection of being twelve or thirteen and being told by other, equally naive, girls that the size and shape of a boy’s penis could be determined by… his nose, his hands, his fingers, his feet. The Jezebel post seemed too stupid to worry about, but I kept reading to see if there was perhaps a larger point. Meanwhile I came across this:

Jezebel also dabbles in some racial stereotypes by ensuring that Prince Naveen—the sole African American male in the collection—has the longest genetalia.

I had not seen the movie. Prince suggested to me that Naveen was not the from the United States, but that could just be a name for some reason, so I just watched a few minutes of the movie trying to determine whether or not Prince Naveen could be described as “American.” I think he cannot. Nor is it clear that he is of African descent. It is very clear in the movie that he is from another country. His accent seemed to be Italian. (I’ve since found out it’s Brazilian.) His country is named as Maldovia, which is fictional. Even if Naveen is of African descent, he is most certainly not “African-American.”

I know that someone with a degree in literature can spit out twenty pages on seemingly nothing at the drop of a hat. However, I can’t help thinking that Emily Shire should have at least done a close reading of the Wikipedia entry for The Princess and the Frog before accusing Tracie Egen Morrissey of racial stereotyping.

Note to Americans: African-American is only a politically correct term for dark-skinned people when talking about Americans of African descent. (Now, stop embarrassing me! This is getting humiliating. I get angry and say, “How dare you call Americans stupid!” Then a few weeks later I find myself apologizing. “Um, maybe we are that stupid.”)

Note to the Editors at The Daily Beast: Do you pay, and, if so, how do I submit something?


When that human being is a pregnant woman in a country with laws to protect the fetus.

I got so upset reading this (ht jaunte) I’m going to add very little and maybe take a hiatus from the internet for the rest of the day. It reminds me of one question I’ve always had for people who dislike abortions but make exceptions for rape. Who determines if it was rape and will that determination be made in a timely manner? Rape is notoriously difficult to prosecute. I do believe that a person should be considered innocent until proven guilty, and that means that occasional people who have committed crimes are let go. Generally, the society thinks acquitting the occasional criminal is far better than imprisoning the innocent. However, deciding if a woman should be permitted an abortion is not a criminal trial. What are the standards? The second time I got pregnant, it was technically a rape because I didn’t consent. I was asleep. However, it would have been impossible to prosecute. As it happens, I didn’t even call the police. It was in the context of a relationship that had gone sour and the situation was very complicated. Even in retrospect, I don’t believe that I should have gone to the police, nor do I think the man should have been prosecuted for rape. I don’t think he posed a threat to other women and a few years later he apologized, after the relationship was over, for some of the thing he had done to me. However, I was able to get an abortion and get out of an abusive relationship because we have laws that allow “abortion on demand” in the early stages of pregnancy. Had that not been the case, would I have had to go to the police and accuse my live-in boyfriend of rape, with consequences for his life that certainly would have been greater than I believe he deserved. He came to regret what he had done, he understood it was wrong, he lost a woman he wanted to marry and I have no reason to think he ever did it again. That is a just and reasonable outcome in my mind. Would exceptions for rape include situations like mine, ones that would be hard, if not impossible, to prosecute under criminal laws?

At the risk of getting other feminists mad, I have to say that I don’t believe all rapes are the same. In the case of the woman in Ireland who is being force-fed after going on a hunger strike because she was denied an abortion, the rape is described as “traumatic.”

Shame on the Irish Independent for the way it was reported there. No mention of the rape. No mention of the rape. No mention that “preventing her from starving herself” was force feeding. No mention that she was an immigrant with limited English. No mention that she couldn’t leave the country due to her immigration status. I’m so upset, I don’t even think I can continue to look for more information. Normally, I make an attempt to at least get my facts straight before writing.

Does anyone understand the pain this woman must have been in? Does anyone care? Is she just a piece of meat for men to do with what they want? A piece of meat who mistakenly thinks of herself as a human being? Does anyone understand that this woman is in a living nightmare?

Oh, yeah, are they going to starve the child to death and throw its body in a former septic tank?

That’s a question to which I don’t have a ready answer.

Like a lot of people in the United States over the past few days, I’ve found it hard to not continue to check up on the news coming out of Ferguson, MO. One fact that everyone must have heard by now is that the population of Ferguson is 67% black while few than 6% of the police officers in Ferguson are black. By comparison, the City of Baltimore, which has a population that is 64% black and has also had a history of tensions with the police, had, in 2006, a police force which was 43% African-American. Baltimore still has plenty of problems and no one thinks that the city doesn’t need improvement in matters pertaining to race, but over the past several decades measurable progress has been made. Baltimore has also had several African-American mayors.

How did this dramatic difference in the racial make-up of the town versus the racial make-up of the police force and city government come about?

This is, as I said, a question, not an answer.

A post on the Democratic Underground referred to Ferguson as a teachable moment in why it is important to vote, but why are people not voting?

There are a few things that may, or may not be, contributing factors.

First of all, while the population of Ferguson has been stable for several decades, the racial demographics have changed dramatically in the past twenty-five years. In 1990, 74% of Ferguson was white and the African-American population was 25%. “White flight” is something I didn’t think happened that much anymore. Is that what has happened or is it something else? While the median age is younger than the rest of the U.S., it was only by two years.

Regarding age, the African-American population is younger and that could be a contributing factor. Another possible factor could be the matter of voting rights for felons. The racial disparities in our justice system are bad enough on their own. When this is combined with the disenfranchisement of people convicted of a felony it can serve to disenfranchise the black population more generally. However, Missouri does not permanently ban former felons from voting. Interestingly, it is one of only eight states that does not permit people to vote while incarcerated for a misdemeanor. It would be worth looking into whether or not that policy can have a significant effect on election results.

A professor at the University of Iowa, Colin Gordon, has identified the mobile nature of the black population in the St. Louis area as a factor in the lack of political leverage.

As Mr. Gordon explains, many black residents, lacking the wealth to buy property, move from apartment to apartment and have not put down political roots. (The New York Times)

It seems that the name Ferguson is going to turn into a word for something else. What, we don’t yet know.

Update: There was some interesting information relating to this on Daily Kos: Ferguson’s Election Turnout Is Terrible by Design. If the media spotlight hadn’t been turned out the town, most of us would have never known that situations like this exist. It makes one wonder how many other towns have similar situations.

I found the old dashboard.

Christ, I wish WordPress would stop fucking around with the interface. Have you ever noticed there’s multiple links allowing you to put up a new post and each one takes you to a different format? Oh, well. Now what the hell was it that I was thinking before WordPress pissed me off?

I was going to write something serious, but I returned to WordPress after a brief hiatus to find that they’ve moved everything. I don’t have the mental bandwidth at the moment to think about what I have to say and navigate the hobbled interface at the same time.

Frustrations, frustrations, frustrations.

Anybody know a better blogging platform? Ever since I first saw the poorly designed, buggy, slow “blue” WordPress, I’ve been dreading the day they got rid of the dashboard. Apparently, today is the day.

‘Cause I’ve seen blue skies
Through the tears in my eyes
And I realize I’m going home.

 – I’m Going Home“, by Richard O’Brien from “The Rocky Horror Picture Show”

Several times, I’ve started this post and I keep stopping. Baltimore is something of an underdog city and I have enough of an instinctive sympathy for underdogs that I can’t help feeling almost guilty for hating it. To put it in the most neutral terms possible, I just haven’t been able to fit in here. Perhaps it’s my fault. New York is perhaps the last city to need one more booster, but there we go. I like New York.

Mensa having a preacher at their monthly meeting was certainly not the first time I felt alienated here, but it was the one that finally clinched it. It said to me, “No, you will never make friends here.” It’s been four years and there is probably no one here with whom I will keep in touch after I leave with the exception of my sister and brother-in-law. The cost of living is so much lower here than in New York City that I kept hoping that somehow I could make it work, by traveling more, by doing things that I was unable to do in New York like gardening, but it just wasn’t enough to make me happy. I suspect the isolation was making me a little bit nuts. It’s funny, because I’m introspective and just a touch introverted people think I should do well alone. It’s quite the opposite. Since I’m not especially gregarious I need many opportunities to make contact with other people in order to take advantage of the few occasions when I feel moved to reach out.

They say you take yourself with you wherever you go, but in my experience that just isn’t true. I’m not the same person in everyplace, or at least I don’t behave in the same way. Some people find New York too hectic. One friend left after 9/11 for that reason. I’m just the opposite. To me, everyone here in Baltimore looks like they are walking with the weight of the world on their shoulders. It makes me feel like everything is hopeless. Furthermore, the place is ugly. For better or worse, I’ve always felt very sensitive to my surroundings.

I know that the popular belief these days is that depression has a biological source, but I’ve always felt that living in Baltimore was a major contributing factor in my depression. I guess I’m going to put that to the test. Just the thought of moving back to New York has made me significantly more cheerful during the past week.

A few good things have come out of moving here. I feel closer to my sister than I have since we were teenagers. I had a chance to live in an architectural masterpiece. A former boyfriend from New York said that he heard that living in a place like this is not as enjoyable as it sounds. That is totally untrue. The building and the apartment are great. If I could bring it to New York with me I would. However, in New York I would never be able to afford it. I had a chance to learn programming and to learn more about plants.

People do choose to live in one place over another for a reason. Sometimes it’s a job or family, but many people go to New York for New York itself.

Well, I’m going to be pretty busy during the next couple of weeks. I have a new place to fix up and an old place to get ready to sell.

Get my sister Sandy
And my little brother Ray
Buy a big old wagon
Gonna haul us all away


Oh, Baltimore
Man, it’s hard just to live
Oh, Baltimore
Man, it’s hard just to live, just to live

from “Baltimore,” by Randy Newman