My Inner Woman has PMS, My Inner Child is Teething, and My Inner Voice Has Laryngitis

plus a million other things that give me a headache.

Get that D!ck out of Britney’s Mouth… December 2, 2009

Here I go all controversial on you again.  Just to make up for it, here’s a pleasant Dick for you:

You’re thinking..now, Penny, what does that have to do with anything?  Everything.  It is the very essence of my post.  Sometimes, to be truly happy, you need to clean out the muck from other people’s chimneys.  It’s a dirty job, but somebody has to do it.  (Yes, that was INTENDED to be taken two ways, possibly three.)

The Twitter-verse so far has been fantastic.  I love it.  I’m addicted, even.  Except for one teeny-tiny-almost-insignificant-little-d!ck that keeps showing up right under Britney’s mouth.  It is as persistent as..well..it’s uniquely persistent.  It changes names, it changes accounts.  It doesn’t change size, it’s always tiny, and that makes me sad for it.  Not sad enough to try to save it.  In fact, I wish to annihilate it.  Notice that I refer to “it.”  “It” is what bothers me.  Britney doesn’t.  She’s a whole other story, but that story is right below this paragraph.  Almost.  And it’s entirely relevant as well, so hang on tight with me here.

My first official blog post on this blog, after a couple of pieces written for “artistic value,” was also my most popular post in the short history of all posts I’ve posted, on all my blogs so far.  (Then again, I’m just getting started, so fingers crossed.)  In case you missed it, it was “Me, The Internet and 69.” The objective of that post was to encourage the continual development of a safer, stronger, more useful Internet for us all.  The “69” was the year of our birth, the Internet and I, but you that the high click results on the post were not because of the word ‘Internet,’ but because of that magic number.  (Also, because I used the tag “bikini” in the post, and that seemed to attract a lot of traffic.)

There I go, bravely braving the soot, so you don’t have to. (See how Dick Van Dyke is relevant?)

Why pick such controversial subjects?  Why attempt such “guerilla tactics” to get the message out?  Because the message matters.  We deserve a safer, cleaner, more useful Internet.  We deserve a safer, cleaner more useful world, for that matter.  But it goes beyond the Internet, to something far more creepy about the Britney phenomenon, something that you may have missed.  It’s not about sex.  The people doing this are not peddling sex.  They are not peddling pleasure.  They are peddling EXPLOITATION.  They are peddling OBJECTIFICATION.  They are TERRORISTS with a MYSOGENISTIC agenda.  (Ok.  I’ll stop with the capitals already, but I really am yelling these words.  Hubby can hear it.)

You don’t believe me?  Ask yourselves: what’s the point?  What is the point of showing that you can, as the perpetrators claim, “hack” into “celebrity accounts” and expose their intimacy.  This is not sex.  It is grotesque violence.  This tantamount to virtual gang rape.  Just because the people affected are “famous” and possibly some of them a bit irritating, does that mean that we sit back and allow this type of aggression to take place?

I am not a prude.  Never have been, never will be.  If you’ve read my posts and inferred any prudishness on my part, get your head checked.  Even so, I don’t want to see any images of people “doing things” in my in-box, or showing up in my Tweet feed when I least expect it.  It isn’t about being open-minded, not when it comes to issues like this.  Legitimate blogs and web-sites that trade in what is lovingly called “smutt” and who do not promote exploitation, rather represent consensual concourse and play time among adults are fine in my book.  Live and let live.

These types of Tweets are not in that league.  I didn’t ask for them.  I don’t want them.  I won’t tolerate them.  Most people don’t, I would think.  But I’m wrong.

I know I’m wrong because I understand how markets work.  If there were no demand for this, there would be no supply.  I don’t believe the demand comes from a bunch of horny people looking to have a good time.  The demand comes from a bunch of angry people looking to validate themselves by debasing others, and THAT is what bothers me about it.  That is what has my panties in a bunch! (“I spit your lingo in your face, chauvenist scum!” — sorry that was my dark-side speaking.  Just a teensy bit more aggressive.  We’ll ask her to be quiet now.)

Clearly there is a problem.  There is a recurring demand, an endless stream of losers seeking to raise their own self-worth by stomping on another’s.  When something becomes viral, as this picture has done, it is because there is a demand for it, whether overt or covert.  Now think about that: there is a demand, a considerable one, to exploit, violate, objectify, degrade women.  You knew that, right?  Here’s what you may not have considered.  What do I mean by covert?  The answer lies in another key question: Why isn’t it stopped aleady?  Why does it perpetuate?

I understand bots.  Got it.  I know that people can write code to generate millions of ID’s and do whatever they please.  But, really, our programming isn’t up to par with squashing that a bit?  Furthermore, the accounts have links to web-sites.  Are those web-sites just floating from server to server like flies, changing IP addresses every few seconds?  Are we not able to track and toast them?

I really don’t know these answers, and I am open to comment.  If we do not have that technology, then that is a golden business opportunity for the next Internet Genius to develop and market.

I’ll tell you what I suspect.  I suspect we’ve become passive about this and similar predatory behavior, to our detriment.  Through our passivity, we perpetuate the problem.  We have not made stamping things like this, like child exploitation, like other forms of regression to a base, low, sub-human form, a sufficient priority.  We have not made safety a priority.  We have not made children a priority.  We have not made women a priority.  We have not made Humanity a priority.

These images are powerful dangerous things.  They are not just an ordinary nuisance.  If they are like mosquitos, they are like mosquitos carrying Dengue Fever.  The objectification they represent is deadly to our humanity.  It is an affront to all of us, regardless of gender.

If you’ve followed my blog, you may have picked up on a theme.  I am a little bit obsessed with the images of two iconic women who have hystorically been objectified.  I’m fascinated by their parallels and their contrasts.  One was a powerful and solid dame, and she handled her image to her own interest.   She managed it entirely.  She OWNED it.  The other one was a divine, intelligent, sensitive soul.  She didn’t handle it well.  Sadly, it broke her.

I might lose the argument, if we had it, but I believe that Marilyn Monroe was an unbelievably intelligent, witty, beautiful woman.  She may have been an unrecognized genius with tremendous potential.  She would have made a wonderful woman leader, if we hadn’t allowed her to be sucked dry and spat out like the frail skin on a grape.

That is what happens when we turn a blind eye to exploitation.  We lose our shining lights.  If we don’t kill them, we drive them to kill themselves.

So what about Britney?  I personally think it’s not her fault.  She isn’t annoying me daily.  What is annoying is how she is being used and abused.  What is annoying me pondering why, with all the power and features we have on this Internet, this kind of thing can go on so often, so easily.  Why should I care?  Why should you care?  Because it’s not just about Britney.  It could happen to any of us.

Even if it were only about Britney, why pick on the poor girl?  She has enough trouble.  She needs help, guidance, hope.  She doesn’t need to the victim of our laissez-fair attitude to this type of viral mail.  She has been exploited enough already, even from childhood, even by her parents.  She doesn’t need anything adding to her already significant low self-esteem, to her grief.  As I said, it’s not about Britney, or Paris, or Tila Tequila, or anyone else like that..it’s about all of us.  Women and Men alike.  About the kind of environment we want online and off-line.  Do we want a savage society that ravages the vulnerable, or a gentle society that aids them?

We need more empowered men and women in this world.  We need more shining lights.  Maybe Britney will never be a shining light, but how will we ever know if she keeps getting crushed?  Have we ever allowed her to be anything but a dumb blond sucking on a lolly pop?

It’s called desensitization.  The more we tolerate this sort of image propagating our space, the more we re-enforce the message behind it, the more women are objectified and victimized, the more they are abused, the greater the tragedy for all humanity.  These things are not unrelated.  These things are intimately linked.

I’d like it to stop.  I believe I am not alone.  Not just the Twits, but all of it.  I’d like to see that we all pick up our chimney sweep toolkit and get all the soot out, for good.  Won’t you join me?

Chim-Chiminee Chim-Chiminee Chim-Chim Che-ree a sweep is as lucky as lucky can be.

..and that was a Penny for Your Thoughts.

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High Hemlines and Low Ideals November 11, 2009

Here I was, thinking that this might be a week without news.  I should have known better than to rush to judgement on a Tuesday.  After all, yesterday we commemorated the fall of the Berlin wall 20 years ago, tomorrow we commemorate the end of the First World War ninety-one years ago, but that’s all old news. 

Today, CNN International repeatedly took time to highlight more important events, happening right now, in this world, that affect us all, intimately.  Yes, I am referring to Geisy Arruda.  If you have managed to get through your day without knowing who Geisy Arruda is and why she is so important, then you have a rich and fulfilled life.  Here’s a link to a video that explains it anyway:

Geisy Arruda, who wishes nothing more from life than to earn herself a career in Tourism, has raised all kinds of heck by raising her hemline.  Brazilians everywhere are outraged.  There is a significant social split in Sao Paolo over this controversy.  As you can appreciate, Brazil is famous for its decorum.  Though widely known for their Carnaval, an essential part of their tourism strategy, Brasil is also a conservative Catholic culture where morality and propriety is of significant importance.  This generates a problematic paradox.  After all, the event that leads to women dancing in the streets in body paint and feathers, is in fact a religious one, marking the beginning of Lent.  Mmmm…Mixed messages, anyone?  I suppose the discussion has everything to do with the concept that there is a time and a place for everything and the time and place to dress for Carnaval is at Carnaval, not while attending a class at University, but I remain unconvinced and conflicted.

Not by the hemline.  Frankly, what this young woman needs is my Nana, God rest her soul.  I can remember with a smile the many times when, as I was leaving the house, she made her characteristic guttural sound of disapproval and uttered her famous warning:  “I hope you don’t fall from that hemline, you’ll break your neck.”

Not by the concept that people should fight for the right to be educated, even when under-dressed.  In fact, ironically, also on continuous loop on CNN International was the interview with the Taliban leader in Afghanistan who is pondering whether women should be granted an ongoing education at all, and proposing that if they are allowed to learn then certainly they should learn separately from men and still wearing a veil.

My conflict is with CNN, what it considers news, and what it chooses to present repeatedly in order to nurture a following.  The incessant showing of the girl in the mini-skirt led to a lot of showing of the girl in the mini-skirt.  No women in veils were shown during the Taliban leader’s interview, and to cap it all of, Anderson Cooper in his 360 degrees showed all 360 degrees of Miss America in a bikini, to compensate for the censors forbidding their showing the full topless shots, presumably.

The women in Brazil, who stand by Geisy Arruda as she battles for re-admission to the school that expelled her for taking the level above the knee to a level just below her crotch, are claiming they are fighting machismo.  I argue that they are protesting in the wrong continent.  On this same night that the news broke out, the power grid went out in Brazil, an unprecedented power outage, possibly related to the increased demand for pictures of Geisy’s thighs from people around the world who get CNN International as their sole English news offering…I’m just saying.

Will CNN take responsibility for the outage of worthwhile information?  Probably not.  Hemlines have been making headlines for years.  It used to be considered a bit of Yellow Journalism, but in an era of Yellow Journalism gone mad, it’s Carnaval everyday.

In the end, CNN is probably just applying a bit of my favorite female philosopher’s wisdom:

Those who are easily shocked should be shocked more often.

–Mae West

..And That’s a Penny for Your Thoughts