DATE: 7/26/2002 05:45:00 PM
Bitch Magazine Revisited
I spent some time today thinking about yesterday's entry, and though I got congratulations on it from Kellie, I've been second guessing myself. Then I've been second guessing my second guessing, usually when I think of the way Kim will hit the roof when/if she reads it.
I guess I just like to be contrary. Wait, that's not true.
Anyway. I guess it's more that I see the truth in everything, at least when reflected against its opposite. For example, when reading Christian conservative viewpoints, I find myself understanding more about radical politics because of my own reaction to the peculiarly right-wing brand of vitriol. But when I read radical feminist work, I suddenly identify more with Anne Coulter than ever before. It's like I have to look at things upside down to understand them.
So, today, while I continued to slog through this month's issue of Bitch (very wordy mag, that is), I thought to myself, well, there's something to be said for a women's magazine with more copy than ads. And there's something to be said for a magazine, period, with more copy than ads that still retails for $4.95. You can't get Vanity Fair at that price, and I defy you to find the Table of Contents in that beastly thing. And, I guess, the acceptance-of-different-viewpoints thing is nice, and the liberty-and-justice-for-all thing is comforting in a sadly idealistic kind of way.
But understanding is not the same as agreeing. By the time I got through an article on black women in prime-time tv programming that was, at best, amusing (I mean, how can you take social commentary on the WB seriously? Come on now), a still more inflammatory article on religion and women, a just plain weird article about women's art, featuring a woman who painted black-on-black paintings in reaction to critics who implied her art wasn't ethnic enough (hey, isn't that the problem we just talked about with TV a few pages back? What's going on here?), and finally, a mind-boggling "group discussion" about whether the Michigan Womyn's Festival should allow transgendered or transsexual men to attend, in which the competition to adhere to social dogma among participants grew so twisted and tangled I half expected many of them to start arguing with themselves, I was rolling my eyes again.
The long and short of it is that so far, I haven't found much, especially in the way of political and cultural theories, that I can say I wholeheartedly agree with, with the possible exception of Denis Leary's No Cure for Cancer. Now you can see my problem: it would be nice to have a text slightly more academically respected than that to rely on, no offense to Denis.
I mean, let's do the rundown here. It's like that Indigo Girls song, "I went to the doctor, I went to the mountains, I looked to the children, I drank from the fountains..."--I've been through 'em all. And they all piss me off.
Christian conservatives, for example. How dare they presume to decide for me whether or not there's a heaven or a hell, let along judge whether or not I'll get into one of them? Screw them and their snotty Afterlife Club. Militant conservatives piss me off. 19 children, according to militant conservative/federal building bomber Timothy McVeigh, should be considered "collateral damage" in the holy war against American imperialism, etc. Holy Crap, FUCK YOU! Ann Coulter, in a category allllll her own, pisses me off tremendously. "Nine out of 10 caribou support ANWR drilling"? You've got to be kidding. "Compassionate conservatives" REALLY piss me off. I'd rather deal with full-on craziness than total fucking hypocrisy.
But you know what? I used to like the Democratic Underground, with their weekly Top Ten Conservative Idiots list okay, until I looked around some and realized that when liberals were idiots, they were left off the list, because I guess it's more fun to just pick on Rush Limbaugh week after week. Democrats like Al Gore piss me off (even though I voted for him as my official Lesser of Two Evils, and still stand by that decision), because they're not really about helping people, they're about picking up the liberal ticket to try to satisfy their own political ambitions, rather like a child dashing for whatever seat's available in a heated round of Musical Chairs. And the whole plan of Gore and Lieberman to start censoring pop culture because those things supposedly cause violence? That's a big ol' bite me going out to them from me right there. And then there's Nader. Oh, fuck you, Ralph Nader. I don't care what he wants to whine about, about how Bush and Gore were just the same--as far as I'm concerned Nader did just as much as the Florida Supreme Court in getting Bush crowned our first monarch. If it hadn't been for fucking Nader, then Gore would have had a majority clear enough not to be fucked with. You're going to call that progressive politics? Eat me, Ralph Nader. And don't even get me started about the loony-liberal fringe, the Seattle rioters, the people smashing in the windows of Starbucks'...we have a whole bunch of them at my school, and you know what? As soon as they graduate, and Mommy and Daddy stop paying for their college education, living expenses, etc., etc., ad infinitum, they're going to come to the stunning realization that maybe getting a job and making money aren't the unfettered evil they once liked to believe it to be. All these idiots running around in their hemp and batik, babbling about privelege, when the only thing that allows them the luxury of the free time to stage all their little protest rallies is privelege itself. These people need to shut the fuck up.
So where do I stand? I don't. I guess I'm turning cartwheels. But I didn't want the feminists in the audience to think that they pissed me off, exclusively. No, no. Don't ever think that.
In the continuing interest of fairness, I have to say that in a way, I'm jealous of everyone with a political platform to believe in sometimes, because it must me nice. It must be comforting to have a matrix through which to view the world, one that isn't always the easiest thing, maybe, but which assigns a decent-enough meaning to what's going on around them, whether they're Jesus freaks or college students playing the bongo drums.
So, what do I believe in? Everybody has to believe in something, and I'm not going to pretend I'm an exception.
I don't think that people who dissent are unpatriotic are dangerous. But I think Osama Bin Laden should have his head blown off ASAP. I don't think that all firefighters are now saints, but I also think we should be more grateful. I'm not surprised that some priests are full of shit, but that doesn't mean I'm not mad at them for what they've done. There's something to be said for Cardinal Law's refusal to resign his command of the Boston Archdiocese, but then again, he's an arrogant prick acting almost totally in his own self-interest. Palestinians and Israelis are both suffering. There's nothing wrong with celebrity worship, although a former pro wrestler should never have been a governor, and heaven forbid Arnold Schwarzenneger hold public office. The kids at Columbine were fucked up, plain and simple. Marilyn Manson never made anyone do anything. Greenhouse gases cause the greenhouse effect, but that doesn't mean people shouldn't try to make a living for themselves. Corporate executives can suck my ass, but I don't think all advertising is bad. Poverty does not equal nobility. Wealth does not equal amorality. Vegetarians and vegans have often been the most obnoxious people I've ever had the displeasure of eating a meal with. You can't take it with you, and tobacco companies, drug dealers, and gun companies don't kill people--people's inherent tendency toward addiction, self-indulgence and violence kills people. OJ Simpson is guilty as sin, and serial killers are fascinating. There should damned well be a death penalty. I could never terminate my own pregnancy, but that doesn't mean I should advocate sending some other desperate woman out into the back alley with a coat hanger. I believe that mental illness exists, and people need to treat the mentally ill with more compassion and respect. I believe that the grass is always greener, that a heck of a lot of people have terrible sour grapes, and that curiosity never killed anyone.
I believe in Trent Reznor, when he sings, "I want so much to believe." I believe in George Carlin--sometimes--and Denis Leary. I believe in the fuck-it philosophy, which I guess is just as bullshit as anyone else's. I believe in Lewis Black, Kurt Vonnegut and Ernest Hemingway, and I don't give a flying fuck that all the role models I've named thus far happen to be male. I believe in the philosophy embodied best by the film American Beauty. I believe in atheism, in coincidence, in just plain reality unmarred by the lens of patriotism or commercialization or resistance or protest or radicalism or anarchy, or what have you. I no more believe that the world is going to hell because we've "kicked God out of the public square" than I believe that we're going to hell because we've "forced our oppressive religious views on each other." Maybe we're not going to any hell at all. Maybe things just are, and that's life. Maybe even the bad, unjust, unfair or painful experiences we endure as a species are what it's all about. Maybe we're just the forerunner to the next rulers of the planet, the way dinosaurs were to us. Maybe it all means nothing. Maybe the things we think mean nothing, mean everything.