So I suppose I need to talk about this Susan Faludi “Electra” crap

I mean, just in case this whole Terminator 2 phase of my feminist blogging “career” is later described in children’s textbooks as merely “those months Antonova aired out her grievances regarding the writing of Camille Paglia – and posted funny pictures of cats”.

Here’s a funny picture of a cat:

Anyway, the points is, this month’s issue of Harper’s magazine features a piece by feminist author Susan Faludi, called “American Electra: Feminism’s Ritual Matricide”. You pretty much know where this one’s going the minute you read the title. Granted, even an unrepentant sterva like me, upon reading the full article, had to admit that Faludi, at the very least, tried to be as fair as she could to the subject matter and to the younger and older feminists she writes about.

“Tried” is the key word here.

I’m not a huge fan of Faludi’s writing, if only because I find her to be a bit of a dead-endist. To put it into actual English, Faludi doesn’t strike me as exceptionally constructive. The extent of my engagement with Faludi’s writing can be summed up like this: “Here are the things you should be pissed off about!” “I am indeed pissed off! What do I do now?” *crickets, etc.*

This isn’t to say that other people don’t get anything constructive out of Faludi’s writing. They do. I don’t happen to be one of them, though, which is why reading Faludi’s latest article felt a bit like having the same argument I always wind up having with those one drunk who hangs out by the kiosk where I buy beer after work: “Spare some change?” “Dude, you’re just getting enough so you can go get wasted.” “At least I’m honest!” “Yeah, but it doesn’t mean I have to like it when I walk by here again half an hour later, and you’re puking on the sidewalk!” *etc.*

Faludi’s article starts out sensibly enough – by describing the break that young American women of the 1920’s experienced with the older feminists who spearheaded the movement for women’s suffrage. I use the word “sensibly” loosely. Faludi’s sees 1920’s womanhood in starkly one-dimensional terms. Granted, she was writing an article for Harper’s, not a 400-page historical thesis, but all I could think about when I read this part of her piece was F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Daisy saying she wished that her daughter would become a “beautiful little fool” – and the tragedy buried underneath that statement. You don’t need to write a 400-page thesis in order to have perspective.

Today’s young feminists ultimately fare no better in Faludi’s piece. The author actually goes as far as to note the actual stilettos of some young feminist speaker she listened to this one time. I waited for a punchline, but it never materialized. Of course, it is a well-known fact that a woman must look a certain way in order to be taken seriously – though the look itself is never clearly defined (that would allow an individual woman an out of some sort, and we can’t have that). In this context, a description of a woman wearing stilettos has the same undertone as a description of a man having “the smile of a pedophile” or whatever, coding for Suspicious Character. Of course, all of those women in their 50’s and beyond whom I know, who happen to also wear stilettos sometimes are… wait, nevermind, that would probably just introduce too much complexity into the problem of inter-generational conflict within American feminism. Let’s talk about fishnets instead – fishnets being those other things that young feminists sometimes wear. Because Faludi actual does bring them up. She also talks about Lady Gaga, of course – and talks about people who talk about Lady Gaga, and destroy the future of feminism in the process. Oh and the phrase “Barbie doll” is in there too.

We almost have bingo – almost, I say, because Faludi doesn’t bring up blow-jobs (does she? I’m not going to go back and read that article again. I’ve read it twice already, and have a perfectly good afternoon to wile away watching ships pass by the window outside, before the Moskva freezes).

Faludi’s main beef with younger feminists is that they, apparently, are not interested in activism, preferring consumerist gratification instead. Um. OK. It’s funny to me, because most young feminists I know are activists. Someone like Sarah Jaffe, whom I work with? Activist. Political organizer. Head Bitch In Charge. Etc. I bring up Sarah in particular, because it is the Sarahs of the world that Faludi appears to have a huge problem with. They’re level-headed, hard-working and intellectually curious – but they are also public about such things as emotion and desire. They don’t believe that a hint of glamour ought to ruin their public image, because they recognize the fact that there’s a purpose to every season – including being young. They want to have their cake and eat it too, clearly, and are obviously selfish. And they probably hate their mothers. Which is what this entire thing goes back to. Kids these days don’t listen to their moms. The Four Horsepeople of the Equal Opportunity Feminist Apocalypse are a-comin’.

If I could be serious for a moment – it almost seems to me that Faludi believes that weird co-dependency between moms and daughters is somehow a good thing, if this piece is anything to go by. She admiringly speaks of an old school feminist from way before the gullible sluts of the 1920’s era ruined things for everyone, who lived with her mother her entire life – as if it’s an example today’s feminists can learn from. My own strange real estate situation at the moment makes sure that I have to live with my mother for half the time, which isn’t a Horrible Tragedy, but it has it’s major downsides both for her and for me. More often than not, generations share living spaces because they have to – not because they have a terrific time doing it.

Inter-generational conflict always exists, and it affects way more than simply mainstream American feminism. Faludi’s assertion though that there is a “nightmare of dysfunction” within American feminism is, well… funny. For me, “nightmare” relates more to systemic exclusion of trans people. Or, say, how the concerns of those who are not middle-class and don’t get invited to sit on panels can easily get lost in the shuffle. Is that too much theory, perhaps? Theory, of course, is another thing that Faludi says that younger feminists are too preoccupied with. In principle, I’m not a big fan of theory either. My attitude toward it is summed up by the following joke:

Two middle-aged Jewish men, lifetime residents of Odessa, are walking across town and and pass by a newly-opened sex shop. “Abram!” One man says to another, “What does THAT make you think about?” “Nothing,” replies the other drily. “What? It doesn’t make you think about sex?” “Listen, Monya, I have six children – I have no time for theory.”

Seriously speaking, theory does help us identify patterns – such as several patterns I mentioned above: mainstream feminism’s problem with trans folk, mainstream feminism’s problem with sufficiently addressing class issues, etc. I don’t know if grooming practices and stuff I adorn myself with cancel out my critical thinking on these issues, but they’re still ultimately more important to me than squabbles with some invisible parent-type figure – squabbles that, incidentally, jar horribly with my concept of the Divine Feminine.

So in the end, I’d just like to point out that Holly, who is this chick on “True Blood” who channels the Great Mother in order to help Arlene possibly get an abortion, is way more compelling from a feminist perspective than this “ritual-matricide-Becky-look-at-her-stilettos-they-are-SO-big” stuff that gets published in Big Important Magazines and has nothing to do with my life.

Your daily dose of WTF: of crayfish, curlers and impudent teenagers

Just a typical photo session in my household in Ukraine:

stabbing my brother in the face with a make-up brush...
stabbing my brother in the face with a make-up brush...

I’m not really sure why I’m in curlers. I’m not even going out. We do have live crayfish at the house, and the cat broke a crystal honeypot trying to escape from them. So maybe the curlers are there for the sense of solemn occasion. Or maybe to commemorate the fact that I ZOMG have new hair again! Back to blond, it would seem. They understand blond here, in Ukraine. In fact, they start screaming and flapping their arms at you if you try to go darker.

mom decides to provide ambiance with sandwiches
mom decides to provide ambiance with mini-sandwiches

Right now, there is drama because my brother refused to consume the sandwiches pictured. I’m not really sure how to defuse the situation, to be honest. Walking around looking ridiculous doesn’t seem to be helping.

i don't even know what's going on here
i don't even know what's going on here

I feel bad for the live crayfish because they are, apparently, fated to become cooked crayfish once the resident crayfish expert, Uncle Vasya, is due to arrive. I console myself with thinking that once I am dead, many creatures will feast on my body. My brother, to go by this picture, looks perfectly capable, for example.

let's try looking like normal siblings just this once
let's try looking like normal siblings just this once

And we succeed for a second. Well, aside from the curlers.

Uncle Vasya almost here. Getting rid of curlers and trying to function as family unit in 3…2…1…

… Aw, what the hell. Here are the crayfish with a suspiciously Ukrainian-themed plastic bag:

i could bust out the fancy Olympus for these guys, but somehow i don't think they'd care
i could bust out the fancy Olympus for these guys, but somehow i don't think they'd care

Isn’t this like a great little mini-horror film going on in our kitchen sink?

Funkyzeit mit Fedya

pfft fedya This is Fedya, my parents’ cat.

Everything he thinks of me and, quite possibly, the world at large, is summed up by this picture.

Yesterday, in the middle of the night, I was attacked by a huge moth. I called for reinforcements. My brother and I swatted at the Mothra monster with a baseball bat for a while (I’m not kidding), but it didn’t get the hint. Fedya trapped the Mothra, carried it around in his mouth, then decided that he was more amused by watching us chase it around or, alternatively, watching it chase us, than actually eating it. So he let it go, and it flew around for a while, casting terror into our hearts and providing Fedya with endless nighttime entertainment.

Merciless toward small, cute birds, Fedya nevertheless has plenty of capacity for mercy when it comes to UGLY THINGS THAT FARKING TERRIFY ME.

*ahem*

Fedya is a Scottish Fold cat, which means, of course, that his ears fold over as if he were a toy. Fedya, however, stubbornly refuses to be treated like a toy. He has opinions about matters – most of said opinions being negative – and he’s not afraid to share them. The other day, he expressed his disapproval of my sand-covered pump by kicking it over and staring at it despondently for nearly half an hour (Fedya doesn’t like dirt and disorder of any kind, unless the dirt and disorder has been directly caused by him). Sufficiently shamed, I wiped my shoes down with a damp cloth as Fedya watched.

Fedya cannot stand his litterbox to be anything but pristine. If you did not clean up his pee fast enough, he will take a vengeful dump on your bed. He will then proceed to give you a look like the one above. It means “Pfft. Look what you made me do.” One legendary dump that Fedya took coincided nicely with New Year’s Day 2007. I had crawled home around 6 a.m., and, having snuggled nicely underneath my toasty feather blanket, was suddenly struck by the overwhelming smell of cat poop. Fedya was on my desk then, looking down. “Hah,” he seemed to say. “You don’t get to take time off from MY litterbox just because it happens to be YOUR drunken holiday.” I will never, ever forget that morning. I still have nightmares about it sometimes. Especially those nightmares that come when you have just turned over your pillow to the cool side, and pulled the delicious, freshly-laundered blanket over your face and are suddenly struck with a horrifying WHAT IF?…

Fedya’s other grand achievement is being able to sleep on his back, which he does quite often. I think he likes it, because deep down inside, he is a show-off. He’ll never admit it though. Being a show-off means trying too hard, and Fedya does not try. Hard or otherwise. He just is.

We adore him in the way we adore Tom Bombadil – without trying to understand him. That way madness lies.

MOAR Fedya pictures? Here’s one.

The kitties are having a relationship crisis

As you may know, I am the owner of two kitties – Fanty & Mingo. You can find out more about them here. Fanty and Mingo are having a bit of a tiff. They need relationship counseling.

Here’s what happened:

Fanty was having diarrhea issues for a while. He was getting better, but since we went off to Petra and Aqaba for the weekend, and left the kitties in charge of the super, he must have grown despondent. When we got home, Fanty looked a fright. He had obviously soiled himself, and then just hung out in the litterbox for a while, letting the stray kitty litter pebbles cling to his fluffy backside. Then the entire thing dried into an unholy crust.

He was making no attempt to clean himself, and although the diarrhea was no longer an issue and he looked like the picture of health, he was filthy.

We took him outside and we hosed him and soaped him and hosed him some more.

Then the weirdness started.

I expected the bath to alter Fanty’s scent, and for Mingo to get all hysterical about it (she gets hysterical about most things), but I didn’t expect it to last this long. Fanty can’t get within a couple of feet of Mingo without the latter having a hissing fit. It’s particularly sad, because you see him sitting there, lonely, regarding her from a distance, wondering why she will no longer play or clean his ears and stuff.

And she is not refusing to get over it! It has been two days!

Any suggestions, Cat Community?