strange fire

books. poetry. paganism. feminism. queerness. blog.

quotes and more quotes July 4, 2007

Filed under: feminism,life,Neil Gaiman — andygrrrl @ 9:45 am

There are definitely people who look at the entirety of what’s going on the world today as a couple of people fighting over whose imaginary friend likes them better. And then you’ve got people who say, “No, no, this isn’t an imaginary friend, he’s actually the real thing. But that guy over there, he’s an imaginary friend.” And it’s huge and it’s responsible for an enormous amount of worry and difficulty and it’s why I’m not allowed to travel with eight ounces of shampoo. I’m allowed four ounces. I’m going to have to pour away half of my shampoo before I can put it in my quart bag and put it in my carryon. Which is really bizarre. And that’s because of people arguing over things that many people regard as imaginary. Chiefly, gods, religions, and national boundaries, which are absolutely imaginary. They’re completely notional. They don’t tend to exist. As soon as you pull back half a mile and look down at the Earth there are no national boundaries. There aren’t even any national boundaries when you get down and walk around. They’re just imaginary lines we draw on maps.

Neil Gaiman, Bookslut Interview, October 2006

I went out to my car this morning, to run and get some breakfast, and I had a flyer stuck to my windshield: “Celebrate Independence Day! History shows that the Founding Fathers were Christians, and that America was founded as a Christian nation! History shows that the Bible is the literal word of God!”

I tore it up in to several tiny pieces, with all the venom and intention of destroying such garbage as I could muster up. It’s probably the most patriotic thing I’ll do all day; I’m going home for two weeks, and I’ll spend most of today packing and driving to the airport.

As Virginia Woolf said (and talk of “patriotism” always makes me think of this), as a woman I have no country. As a woman my country is the whole world.


coolness June 29, 2007

Filed under: feminism — andygrrrl @ 9:55 am


  Which Western feminist icon are you?  

You are Emma Goldman! You are the mama of Anarchist/Communist feminism and you inspired millions to embrace the labor movement. Without ever directly saying so, you directed efforts toward saving wymyn and children from exploitation. Oh yeah, you were also a total sexpot!
Take this quiz!

Quizilla |
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Not what I expected, but any woman (er, womyn) who can make pince-nez punkrock is alright in my book. I have a playlist of political music on my iTunes I called The Emma Goldman Mix. I should read up on her.


I’m very serious in this one June 20, 2007

Filed under: feminism,holistic medicine,life — andygrrrl @ 11:07 am

But this has been on my mind for a while.

So I was sitting with my friends after our yoga class one day, and I don’t know how we got on the subject of activism, but we did, and I said how I had been very active in the pro-choice movement in college. “Gee, really?” said my friend, in that “No Shit” tone of voice. Yeah, I’m That Girl, the Political One, the annoyingly opinionated. I’m used to being The Feminist (in addition to being The Dyke, and The Wiccan).

The thing is, I’ve got this reputation as an outspoken firebrand, which I don’t really think I deserve. Not any more. It’s just that openly expressing feminist opinions outside of strictly activist circles makes you stand out. I’m not badgering anyone or bringing up conflict constantly. It’s been a few years since the March for Women’s Rights in D.C. These days, I don’t do much of anything, politically.

Which is frustrating. The thing is, I’ve been witnessing a classic example of politics in personal life for the last few months; and I’ve felt pretty powerless to do anything about it.

My friend and classmate—we’ll call her Jane—got pregnant a few months ago. She’s still pregnant, and she doesn’t want to be. The system, such as it is, doesn’t make it easy for a 22 year old Native girl to get an abortion, not if she doesn’t have five or six hundred dollars ready to drop, which most of us working for minimum wage don’t. By the time she’d saved up enough money for the pill, it was too late. And now the system keeps jerking her around—drive two hours to the nearest clinic, take three days out of her life that she can’t afford to get it done with money that she doesn’t have. She told me, almost by accident, at the beginning. I mentioned that, if she was interested, I knew which herbs you could use, and where to get them. But that was it; we’re not close enough as friends for me to feel like I can do anything more, except be someone to confide in, which she doesn’t do very often.

Then Leah got pregnant; another classmate. But this a happy occasion this time; 21 years old, engaged, making wedding plans for Mexico. She may be young, but she wants to have a big family; she’s in a place where she can start one. Leah’s forbidden from getting certain types of body work and techniques done, because of her pregnancy. Jane doesn’t say anything, so I find myself working verboten Chinese meridian points on her, doing Thai massage techniques that I shouldn’t. Maybe the idea is that if we both pretend that she isn’t pregnant, she won’t be. I don’t feel like I’m in a position to say anything; Jane smiles and laughs a lot, but she keeps herself to herself.
And so I found myself sitting in the clinic office the other day, waiting for my client, and the receptionist (also a therapist) was talking on the phone. “You mean it’s not illegal??” she said, with a strange pitch to her voice.
“What’s not illegal?” I asked, curiously, when she hung up.
She looked at me a long moment, with this expression of utter fear in her eyes, and I realized I had accidentally said the wrong thing.
“That pill. You know, for when…I’m 36 years old and I’m pregnant. I feel so silly.”
“RU-486.” I said. “Yes, it’s legal here.” Whether you can get it or not is another question, I thought to myself. There’s a Planned Parenthood the next town over, but in a Red State, that really doesn’t mean a damn thing.

And then we dropped the subject and it’s never come up since. I know another therapist knows. Jane’s pregnancy is something of an open secret as well. But no one really talks about it.

It’s really incredibly frustrating to watch all these private dramas happening, and to see the connections between them, the political discourses that shape them, and feel helpless in the face of it. A young woman of color getting pregnant (out of wedlock, with a white man) is a desperate thing, shameful, discussed in hushed tones. And there’s no one to actually help her. A young white woman getting pregnant is a wonderful thing because look, her boyfriend proposed! And gave her a ring with his grandmother’s diamonds, no less. We all coo and exlaim loudly, as if to hide the fact that we’re ignoring another woman with a less certain fate. And a grown woman who doesn’t even know what her options are, and she’s not a young teenage girl raised with abstinence-only policies. She’s a member of the health care profession; and she doesn’t know that RU-486 is legal. And we all pretend like these are individual, unconnected scenarios.

It’s all very well to talk about conciousness and organizing and sisterhood and alliances. But how do we actually do it? In the face of such ignorance and silence?


inner dialogue of a radical romantic June 12, 2007

Filed under: books,feminism,movies — andygrrrl @ 2:13 pm

Scene: Me, at home, watching the BBC adaptation of North and South for the zillionth time.
 Right, I can’t believe I’m watching this for the zillionth time. I’m unemployed and watching a glorified excuse for a soap opera. I’m officially a loser.

Hey, stop with the self-hatred, alright? I deserve a little comfort food. Besides, I’m not watching it, I’m just skipping to the good parts.

Ooh, like the part where Margaret tells Thorton to fuck off for being an arrogant exploitive capitalist?

Yes! I mean, no, well, it’s so sad! He totally gets his heart broken. It’s so romantic.

Oh, BARF. I can’t believe I’m actually enjoying this Victorian drivel. Gaskell’s totally ripping off Austen with the whole boy-meets-girl, girl-thinks-she-hates-boy-but-is-secretly-attracted-to-him plot.

She is not ripping off Austen. Sure, it’s the same basic structure, but it’s using it to examine class and regional conflicts, North vs South, working vs middle class.

Whatever. The heroine who seems to have smattering of social conscience about the lives of the working poor ends up capitulating to patriarchal mores and marries the capitalist pig! Everything stays the same!

He’s not a capitalist pig. He’s a mill-owner.

Same difference.

Anyway, where do you get off calling yourself radical? You’re as middle-class as Margaret Hale. Talk about arrogance.

All I’m saying is that as a feminist should you really be enjoying a heteronormative story that simply reifies the capitalistic status quo?

A) stop turning into the feminist police; B) John Thorton is a well-rounded character who crossed class boundaries to work his way up to mill owner so you can’t really call him a capitalist pig–

–oh, don’t even give me that individualistic boot-straps shit—

C) romance is a genre about individual psychology, not social revolution and D) considering all that, I think Gaskell did a pretty good job of looking at the bigger picture and criticizing the effects of industrialization on the lower classes.

Hmph. In a totally myopic, sentimental Victorian sort of way.

It was 1855. Give her break.  Besides, you have to admit that it’s refreshing to have a smart, outspoken heroine who seems to actually eat three meals a day.

Okay, so Daniela Denby-Ashe is gorgeous. Point taken. But it’s still a variation of Man Domesticated/Reformed by Good, Virtuous Woman.

Oh, SHUT UP. It’s the part where he gazes longingly after her carriage as she leaves Milton forever!

You’re really gross, you know that? What kind of lesbian are you?

Better than being a pendantic, policing pain in the ass. Besides, you have to admit that kiss at the end is really fantastic.

Totally historically innaccurate–no way they’d be making out in broad daylight on a train platform–but yeah, definitely a hot kiss.

See? Romantic always wins in the end.