Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Girlfriend or Foe?

Girlfriends Magazine has come out with the 100 top places to practice the oft-illegal art of Living While Lesbian.

It came as no surprise to me that half the Top 10 are west of the Continental Divide. Of the remaining five, only two are nominally below the Mason Dixon. Lighten up Southerners, you’re losing valuable lavender $$$ as you bolster your reputations as being the least-friendly states in the Nation for an ever-growing proportion of the population (i.e. everyone not a WASP or BASP).

San Francisco comes in ninth out of the Top 10. I think this score should be lower. The median home price of nearly half a million dollars is more important than whether there is an LGBT Community Center, unless they also rent out rooms. Besides, isn’t that what the Castro is supposedly for?

Face it, SF is a place where it seems easy to be gay, but isn’t. Gender preference aside, the #1 issue partners fight about is MONEY. Given that housing, utilities, taxes, etc are more expensive in A: California in general, and B: the County/City of SF proper, ergo people gon’ fight about money more often.

There are at least 20 gay bars in the City. Do you know how many “lesbian” bars there are in SF? One. Count ‘em, one. Uno. Singular. It’s the size of a postage stamp, is way too loud, plays “It’s Raining Men”, and is full of egotistical 19 year olds who ask questions like “Are there any attractive lesbians anymore?”

The drinks are small, overpriced, and you half spill ‘em trying to weave through a gyrating mass of flab with stainless steel accents gyrating off the beat. Never mind that it’s the same Standard Dance Beat that has been played in clubs apparently since Java Man invented the first cocktail by spearing a beaver which fell into a lake which he subsequently drank from while retrieving the dead beaver (beavers later became scarce and were replaced by olives). The lake had a salty rim due to evaporation and probably fish urine. Voila, the first margarita. He probably called it a “mar”( Java man not having a jaw suited to complex speech, or so his wife tells us).

Aren’t you glad I don’t write historical fiction?

Anyhow, thankfully there is a lovely little dyke-friendly, POC-affirmative enclave just over the bay in Oakland. The rents are lower, it’s marginally cleaner, and there aren’t as many gay men around, saturating our neighborhoods with tony gyms (in which everyone sweats but no one works out for long) and dog paraphernalia boutiques.

I think Oakland deserves a much better ranking than 49th. Iowa city got a better rating. There are LESBIANS in IOWA CITY? Okay, fine, all three of them love it. It still shouldn’t have scored above Oakland.

We have gay ward representatives in Oakland. Note the “s” at the end of representative. We have gay-friendly Congressional representative Barbara Lee. What on earth could have convinced “Girlfriends” Magazine that LaCrosse, Wisconsin is a better place for lesbians to live?

Search me. Unless it was that pesky murder rate. Well, rest assured, most murders in Oakland are of young black men shooting other young black men. Problem solved (yes, that is sarcasm).

In any case, I think “Girlfriends” needs to rethink its priorities a little. I didn’t put the rankings into Excel, but eyeballing them, the list seems heavily weighted toward the NE and Midwest. Oddly weighted too. I have a hard time believing Phoenix, AZ is a better city for lesbians than Chicago, IL.

I’d like to propose a few criteria for the magazine:
“If I break up with my current SO, will I ever get laid again? (In Tahoe, no.)”
“Are there “gay” places to socialize in that do not depend on alcohol sales?”
“How many bookstores per capita are there?”
“Can my partner and I fade into a crowd when we’re not at home?”
“Will we have trouble explaining our “situation” to our children’s schools?”

I think there’s more to rating “good places for lesbians” than taking the “best places to live list” and sorting it by percentage of self-identified gay people who live there (or however they did it).

If Oakland is that low and SF that high next year, I might even write to Girlfriends and complain. Where do you live, and how comfortable have you been there? Comments are a good thing!

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Badphairy Needs a Holla Back

I was skimming through Craigslist the other day, looking to see if anyone witty had written an ad in the women seeking women area.

I came across a post titled “Are there any more attractive lesbians?” Really, people all over the world should know not to give me openings like that. I happily tapped out the following post in response:

“Why no, no there aren't. The last five attractive lesbians were all terribly disfigured by a play-party accident involving a disposal, a life size cardboard replica of Ellen Degeneres, and a 220 HP outboard motor allegedly made by Evinrude.

All of the single lesbians left are overweight, hairy, shower-challenged Wicca-worshiping former Deadhead skanks who will reject you first because you're not one. Please go straight.


The Community”

I got one reply that said I was mean, but funny. Another person, with a well-calibrated sarcasm detector, thanked me for adding a giggle-coda to her day. A third replied below,

“My friend and I were actually having this discussion the other day. Why is
it in S.F. that one must be butch, mullet woman that doesn't shower and has
hair everywhere...looking very dog like. Why?”

That just makes me very sad. What kind of twisted malcontent says the same thing that straight men have been asking me for years? I used to think that “butch” meant that you weren’t trying to attract men. That’s it, that’s all, well, the shoe comfort was a bonus. Apparently, even among lesbians, we must always dress and behave like we are trying to attract men, for fear of turning off women. Small-minded and judgmental women, but women nonetheless.

I don’t get it. Are we so self-obsessed that we simply don’t realize our own prejudices and thus write ads like, “Are there any more attractive lesbians?” How should we answer such insipid, harmful negativity? “No, they heard you were coming and left town”, “Yes, but we’ve been hiding them from you”, or best, “There are millions, they just hear your vapidity coming and hide from you and you alone. We’ve all talked about it and decided that some as dumb and narrow-minded as you deserves to spend her life alone, wondering not what’s wrong with her that she is alone, but what is wrong with everyone else.”

I think that’s actually a serious problem in America right now. We are more interested in other’s faults than our own. We look at a world that is rapidly getting very tired of us and say, “What the hell is wrong with you guys? I rock, you all want to be me and you’re just jealous. My shit smells like roses and my bombs feel like a good shiatsu massage. The problem is that your peasants are revolting and your leaders are a bunch of dumb yobs.” Then we wonder why no one will sit with us on the playground.

Just a thought, if you find yourself thinking, “Why is everyone I know so dumb” it might also behoove you to ask, “Why do only dumb people hang out with me?” This person desperately needed to ask herself this question.

I could have responded with any of the above comments, but I ran the risk of sounding like just as much of an ass as I said I was decrying, so I didn’t. Even if this person was a guy just trying to piss me off, giving attitude back wouldn’t help my cause any. Most of you know how many years it took for me to figure that out. Well, lesson learned. See my reply, below:

I don't know, I've never noticed that effect. Most of the lesbians I "notice as lesbians" are, but that just means my gaydar for femmes is probably miscalibrated, not that there aren't any around. If you see a beautiful woman in heels, lipstick, and a short skirt, do you assume she's a lesbian? If you saw a dirty straight hippie chick, would you think she was a lesbian?

I think this is more a question of "to what visible attributes do you assign the value 'lesbian', and how could you change the way you see people, so that you see femmes as lesbians”? I think that's a much more useful way of looking at it, than blaming butches for how they look, just because they don't look like someone you want to fuck.

The only person you can change is you. If you don't like what you see, change how you see things, because ain't nobody gonna change for you.

I could have been more pointed, more insulting, more a lot of things. But I really did want to give the person something to really think about. I would be very interested in what y’all think about it too. Please feel free to comment on this one, because I’d like to hear some other thoughts on this issue. I never thought I’d say this but…holla back, girls.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Jesus Saves...Allegedly

Christian groups are wary of HPV vaccine because they say it might “advocate promiscuous behavior”.

Just what the hell? I notice that every year our global medical aid is diminished by a million here, ten thousand there, because groups that lean Christian conservative are continually lobbying to restrict said funds.

Don’t believe me? Would you believe such a rag as the New York Times? (http://www.truthout.org/docs_2005/102305E.shtml)

President Bush has again decided not to let the U.S. give money to the U.N. Population Fund, which helps women give birth…after they family pays $42 for such “luxuries” as bandages, antibiotics, and thread (!). Otherwise, African women and babies die, in horrible pain, unclean situations, and all for the want of the price of a pair of jeans.

Even if these women survive, they often develop fistulas (holes) between the vagina and anus or urethra, leaving them incontinent. What man would want an unclean woman back? How would she care for his children? Why would he want an unclean wife? For the number of goats it would cost to get his “old wife” (who may be in her 30’s, heaven forfend) sewn up, he can buy that cute thirteen-year-old. Conserving the nuclear family, yup, that’s how it’s done.

The African gentleman in question can’t, of course, avail himself of condoms because they’re terribly expensive. Why? In part because the Global Population Fund and other organizations have had their funds restricted by “compassionate Christian conservatives” who don’t believe in distributing condoms. They don’t believe in providing any kind of birth control to anyone. So, they are partly responsible for the woman who showed up at an African “hospital” with lethally high blood pressure. For the lack of a $13 dose of medicine, she hemorrhaged and died on the operating table, along with her 12th child.

Bush’s loyal minions don’t like the Population Fund, first because it has U.N. in its name, no doubt. Secondly, because it offers birth control options, as well as prenatal and birth care. Thirdly, because it offers the same medical care to women in China, and they don’t like the One Child Policy.

Fine, go ahead and put tariffs on Chinese goods then. What? It makes all your Wal*Mart cronies cry? Well, then, let’s just let African women die in childbirth, because Lord knows, THEY won’t be contributing to the RNC anytime soon.

People on the Right wonder why black people don’t support the Republicans. BECAUSE WE’RE NOT STUPID. We can connect the dots between “letting Africans die as a result of our global health care and family aid policies” and “letting African Americans die as a result of our national health care and family aid policies”.

We can also figure out what policies are simply asinine, such as the HPV vaccine controversy (why don’t we teach the controversy on contraception?). Christian groups are saying “we don’t like the HPV vaccine because if there’s no threat of STD’s, then girls will be having sex.”

The mind boggles, really, it does. First, what seven year old lining up for a shot in the arm thinks, “Hey, I’m getting a tetanus shot, how about I go impale myself on the first pointy fence I see?” Second, I certainly haven’t noticed people getting negative TB test results applying for a vacation stay in Russian prisons.

Third, I also don’t see a rash of children on AIDS drugs creating brothels because they’ve already got AIDS, so why not? This compassionate Christian conservative is not logic, nor is it compassionate, conservative, nor particularly Christian. It’s idiocy and it should be called idiocy.

Cervical cancer is a very real threat. Giving a child a shot to prevent them from getting it is not going to lead to Hugh Hefner suddenly getting 8000 more girlfriends under the age of 10. It’s going to lead to better health for young people, lower costs to our health care system, and may possibly save the fertility of many young women. What’s not to like?

So there won’t be as many costs to young women AND young men to having sex. I can live with that. 4092 women in 2004 died of cervical cancer. How many Religious Righties did it take to ensure that many more women will die in childbirth this year, and possibly die of cervical cancer in the years to come, all because in their compassionate conservatism ,they want to tell us who Jesus loves the most.

Who would Jesus save?

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Chicken Not-So-Little

We live constantly on the edge of disaster, and we don’t prepare for it. This is not a Chicken Little screed about the sky falling right now. This is a wake up call.

Look at Pakistan, New Orleans, Mississippi, Georgia, Indonesia, Guatemala, Cozumel. What we should take from these lessons of looting, damage, and despair?

Society is a very fragile thing. Ours resides (according to a Florida nurse interviewed on NPR) on gasoline, ice, and electricity. As long as people have those things, society will probably survive, although the vast majority are still exploited by the powerful.

In less fortunate places, society resides in houses, schools, hospitals, clean water, and the promise of some profit after the bills are paid. Without those things, governments degenerate into civil strife, under which the vast majority are exploited by the powerful.

Think about it. Gasoline, ice, electricity. Without electricity, it’s very hard to create or store anything. Without gasoline, whatever you’ve created and stored can’t get to where it’s needed.

Interesting that all three of these things upon which our society depends, are made of non-renewable (as far as we know) resources. Electricity is mostly made from coal, natgas, or nuclear. Gasoline is allegedly made from dead flora and fauna of the past, and fresh water isn’t made form anything. It’s just here.

Yes, I know you think that water is everywhere right? Just go look at the ocean, it’s bleeding huge, right? It’s also SALT WATER. We cannot drink it, use it for manufacturing, or cool nuclear facilities with it.

Two days without a steady supply of fresh water WILL cause looting of stores. Five or six days without food, or refrigeration of food will do the same. Ten or twelve days without gas…and there won’t be any food or water if there isn’t any electricity to run the water pumps or ice machines. If the sewer system is compromised, as is often the case, all safe water has to be looted, flown, or trucked in.

The people you saw in New Orleans looting beer? Those were the smart people. Beer is at least a clean source of water, after the Evian is gone. In the Middle Ages, water was so bad that children were weaned from milk (of some mammal) straight to “small beer” (i.e. their version of 3.2), because the water was likely to make them sick.

I’ve lived on top of three large earthquake-spawning faults, and you know what I’ve noticed? No planning whatsoever. There are no parts of the city (that I know of) that are designated tsunami safety zones, or earthquake emergency zones. There are no coordinated efforts to designate which highways are most likely to survive and thus used as evac routes.

There’s no general edict for health care workers to secure their families and then REPORT TO WORK. There’s no call for residents to have a place they can flee to when the Big One hits (again), and it will.

If you live in the Midwest, don’t feel smug. Check out usgs.gov, go to their ShakeMaps, and look at the continuous number of small earthquakes around St. Louis. The last time that one moved in a big way, the Mississippi ran backwards, destroying almost everything in its path and settling the river into new beds.

Take a moment to plan. Do you know where the evac routes at work are? At home, at school? Do you know where you’d go if you had to pick up and leave RIGHT NOW? Do you have copies of birth certs, SS cards, medical records in one case, ready to go?

I’m not trying to scare you, the pictures of disaster over the last few months should have been enough. Don’t be one of the people who didn’t plan, even though they could have. A couple jugs of water and a box of energy bars could make all the difference.

We live in a wonderful, diverse, technological society. However we rely dearly on that technology. Take a fresh look at your camping gear, home preparations, and knowledge of the roads between where you are, and where you’d like to be if something goes awfully wrong. The problem with Chicken Little and the Boy Who Cried Wolf, is that sometimes, they’re absolutely right, but we’re so tired of hearing them, we never actually hear what they’re saying.

The best outcome possible, is that you’ll never have to use you preparations, but you will sleep more soundly knowing you’ve done all you can.

The Boy Scouts may be a homophobic organization, but their motto is a good one: Be Prepared. If you prepare, you’ll be able to roast Chicken Little over your propane stove on your way out of the city. Bon Appetit.