Monthly Archives: January 2005

“Regarding the Pain of Others”

Susan Sontag

Compassion is an unstable emotion. It needs to be translated into action, or it withers. The question is what to do with the feelings that have been aroused, the knowledge that has been communicated. People don’t become inured to what they are shown…because of the quantity of images dumped on them. It is passivity that dulls feeling.

A couple months ago I wrote about precipices, and how I felt like I was on the verge of one. I was just thinking about that post, and how it’s an interesting experience — feeling like you’re on the verge of something. The dictionary defines the word verge as “the extreme edge or margin; a border.”

I’m realizing now how much of my life has either been on the verge of something or crossing a border of some sort (be it literal or not).

Whether the verge occurs while I’m staring at a blank computer screen, wondering how to tackle this thesis monster, waiting on the verge of an idea …. or waiting on a verge for my life to begin in a new direction, it’s a scary, exhilariating, at times uncomfortable, and thrilling place to be. (and how’s that for a list of contrasting adjectives?)

It’s interesting to be looking over various cliffs of life, on the verge, knowing that your next move means a literal change in altitude.

Life on the edge. Yeah, it’s cliché, but there’s truth to it.

I’m here to reclaim the F word. No, not THAT word — but rather, feminism. I’m really sick of seeing those glazed over, “oh no, not one of those fema-nazis” looks on peoples’ faces when I mention anything remotely linked to feminism. I’m also wary of people in academia disdaining anything labeled feminist as “ideological fatuous crap.”

I’m just about noticing inequalities and rectifying them whenever possible. I guess that makes me more of an egalitarian than a feminist. I just have this bizarre notion that equal pay for equal work should apply, regardless of whatever sexual equipment you were granted at birth. Likewise, I have a revolutionary idea that in relationships — a woman should be standing beside her man, and not behind. “Head of the household” isn’t granted by virtue of your sex, it’s something that’s dynamic and flexible. It’s not about roles, it’s about relationship.

I’m not asking for special rights, just equal ones. I’m not out to belittle men, or change from a patriarchy to a matriarchy (though both are tempting at times).

Anyway, maybe I’m a bit more riled than normal due to my choice in reading materials. I’m finishing up the latest Ms. Magazine, and one particular article — “The Unreal World: Why Women on ‘reality TV’ have to be hot, desperate, and dumb” by Jennifer L. Pozner.

The last two paragraphs sum it up well:

Apologists claim reality TV isn’t sexist because no one forces these women to appear on these shows. But the impact on the shows’ participants is almost beside the point: The real concern is the millions of viewers, scores of whom are young girls, who take in these misogynistic spectacles uncritically, learning that only the most stereotypically beautiful, least independent women with the lowest carb-diets will be rewarded with love, financial security, and the ultimate prize of male validation.

Perhaps saddest of all, real love is almost wholly absent from these artificial mating dances. What little girl dreams of being whisked away by a callous, egotistical dimwit who sticks his tongue down 15 other women’s throats before he reluctantly settles for her? After all the happily-ever-after buildup, every bachelor has dumped his “chosen girl” shortly after their series wrapped production. That’s the thing about fairy tales … they’re not real. In the end, these programs represent a trivial and depressing depiction of the concept of love itself. The equation Fat Wallet + Skinny Chick = Love robs us all of our humanity, and erases the possibility of true emotional connection.

It’s the subtle things we gotta look out for, in my opinion. Things like Top 40 songs with lyrics that belittle women (And I love your lack of self respect / While you’re passed out on the deck / I love my hands around your neck), TV shows that emphasize your physical inadequacies and subject women to painful (and unnecessary?) surgeries, or simply magazine covers that display women like pieces of meat, rather than human beings.

Just accepting these things as a “part of culture” is unacceptable — and I’ll be the one pitching a fit in the background. You won’t be able to tune me out.

10 Worst Corporations of 2004 — looks like “extra low prices” are fairly costly, after all.

It’s been ages since I’ve been to the gym. Ages. It’s actually quite tragic, considering my membership fees come out of my account — whether I’m there or not. No, working out wasn’t one of my resolutions, though by judging the amount of people in my classes tonight — most of Saskatoon seems to have resolved to sweat.

I was pleased to discover that my lack of gym attendance doesn’t necessarily mean I’m outta shape. I kept up with the best of ‘em, and stayed on for an extra class. I’m crediting it to my walking around EVERYwhere lately — despite the subzero temperatures. I live in an area that’s in the middle of almost everything I need access to, so rather than subjecting my car to these temps, I just walk around wearing so many layers I bounce whenever I slip.

Ah well. I’m realizing that this was a really boring entry — right up there with “I brushed my teeth today” type of posts. To make up for it, here’s a gem from Jeff:

Apologies for lack of postings lately. I’m just waiting for a political/personal crisis or a breathing break in my (pleasantly) evolving life. Until then, stay tuned.

Busy, busy.

Teaching tomorrow. Life happening all around me. Not much new to post.

What’s going on with you?

The clumbsiness gene

… has yet again resurfaced in me. When I was 12 or so, I went through a period of time where I was continually falling or breaking fragile items. The highlights of that period had to be when I walked into the glass door of our entertainment center (shattering it into thousands of pieces) or when I broke 4 of the 5 lightbulb holders of our living room chandelier.

Needless to say, I was hoping those days were far behind me. Maybe they’re not so far after all.

In the last week I have fallen (twice), bumped into people, ran into stable objects, nearly broke a glass chess set (a couple of separate times), and have managed to drop the same item in my hands (usually my keys) repeatedly. One of those falls was down the back steps of our patio — inspiring half of my bum to be a rather lovely purple and black color. The other fall was on the street when carrying a load of groceries and bagels (the only casualty in that case was the cantelope).

I’ve never been one to exhibit an inordinate amount of physical grace, but this is getting ridiculous. Luckily with the warm temperatures of today, I’m hoping that it’ll be fall/bump free. Then again, I wouldn’t put it past me to wipe out in front of a rather large group of people. At least whenever I do fall, I bounce rather than thud. That counts for something, no? Falling with style.