Thursday, February 04, 2010

A matter of taste

In my line of work, I have to do a lot of reading. I read strategic educational planning reports, budgetary requests, grant applications, teacher induction guidelines, etc. I spend my day buried in this shit.

I can safely say that 99 per cent of what is piled in manila folder after manila folder on my desk awaiting my signature is well written. Punctuation has been used following stringent style guidelines, proper past participles have been applied and subjects and verbs are in harmony like ebony and goddamn ivory.

That doesn't mean that I want to put on my silk negligee, curl up in my cashmere throw with a hot toddy and pull out a copy of the State Board Standards and Rubrics for School Improvement.

I read that shit because I bloody have to.

I have a similar approach to blogging. You can have a PhD in semiotics and another in 18th century English literature and that doesn't get your ass into my reader. To get into my reader, your funny has to hurt my abs, your sexy has to disintegrate my underwear and your frustration has to stick to my throat long after I've marked your posts as read. In other words, whatever the hell you purport to be, you had better be oozing with it and you'd better make me want to lick it up.

And the licking part is where it gets personal. I like to lick what I like to lick. What can I say?

And because I'm used to seeing so much syntactical and grammatical jackassery around this joint, I'm thrown off a bit when I find someone that can actually write; not just sentences, but entire posts that follow the same line of thought without filibustering my face off with random, disconnected, poorly thought out brain turdlings.

Zen Mama knows how to pull a post together. She thinks about what she writes in advance. Not only that, she can write a series related posts and actually retain my interest. Zen Mama tells her story without holding back: the story of a thrice divorced 46 year old mother and professional. She is brave enough to call a spade a spade and a skeleton in the closet a pile of bones. I respect and admire that in a blogger. Her posts can tend to lean towards too long at times, but in general, they have a good pace and she always tries to reveal things about herself through her writing. She believes she's a writer and she acts like it.

But back to the licking.

Here is where I have to put into words why I don't fucking love Zen Mama and only like her. This is where it gets entirely personal. And I'm finding this discussion near impossible without touching my toes into the tumultuous, I'm-gonna-get-ma-fuckin-foot-electrocuted waters of feminism and what it means to me.

Even thinking about this irritates me because I don't want to be non-solidarity-like. I know that we women need solidarity. I know our salaries are still crap compared to men. I know the number of the hours men spend per week on childcare and housework pales in comparison to ours. They enjoy more money, more prestige, more free time, even most of the egalitarian, self-proclaimed Feminist ones do. I'm right here in the boxing ring, throwing my best punches with the same feelings of betrayal in the realization that I'm not just one of the guys anymore and I am always the one to do the fucking laundry.

It's just that I don't buy into the brand of feminism that is all girl-powery, women unite in a huddled mass of chocolate and tears, singing 'I Will Survive' at the top of our lungs, and rise up against men who are all a series of Mr. Dependables, Mr. Idiots, Mr. Perfections, Mr. Whatever-- random, faceless dudes in random suits who are nothing but the prototype of 'man' that we have in our collective heads. That particular brand of feminism with which I have never been able to identify smacks of oversimplification and leaves a weird flavor in my mouth that tastes a lot like regression. I'm not afraid of femininity. But I find that I like women when their strongest characteristics aren't their overriding girliness in the same way that the men I like are not oozing with masculinity. I like my peeps adrodgynous. There is something that doesn't sit right with me when women pat themselves on the back for doing shit despite being women, and maybe it's just that it pisses me off that things are to a state that we require a back pat for living. I want women and men to see society and their position with respect to the opposite gender as being seamless, homogeneous, even if that's naively idealistic of them. I don't claim that men and women are not by nature different and that their differences shouldn't at times be celebrated. But I think we are a hell of a lot more alike than we are different. The variations between us as individuals are much, much greater than they are between the two gender groups as a whole.

Don't get me wrong, Askers. Zen Mama's blog is not a blog that gets all First Wave on our asses in every post or that even seems to be intentionally about any brand of feminism at all. There is just a tone I perceived throughout her blog, and the fairies in the sidebar continuously reminded me of it. And I feel like that has stopped me from being able to Fucking Love her, because I think we differ philosophically. But I have these same issues with my girlfriends in the real world and argue with them about why I think always having Girl's Night Out every goddamn time we get together is retarded.

I give three stars to Zen Mama for knowing how to tell a proper story and for being one of the good ones in the blogosphere. I suppose if Zen Mama was able to transmit anything about herself philosophically through writing and to stir the reader to examine themselves in any way, as far as blogging goes, she's got the right idea.

By the way, I love the blog name and wish I had thought of it.


  1. This is a really interesting review, especially considering I just clicked over here from a feminism article
    that has an undeniably different tone than the feminism you've just outlined here for us. Thanks for being personal and smart and interesting.

  2. I'd give my opinion if I could read almost white text on a white background.

  3. SciFiDad, I thought that at first too but you have to let it load a bit and then you see the fairies and stuff.

  4. I only read a couple of posts, and the story of her daughter's illness is riveting. But the fairies and 4 point type are distracting. I've read her before, and she's visited Franklin, so I'm inclined to add her. But the layers of art on the template are huge drawbacks. Fairies and layers are like exclamation points--you just don't need them if the writing is solid.

  5. I love the way she writes, but stories this long need to be in book form for me. I'm suffering from way too much adult onset ADD / early onset Alzheimers to read this online.

    And the text is too small.

    I did sympathize with the appendix story -- a few years ago, my daughter had stomach flu that wouldn't go away. If I hadn't had my appendix out and known what to look for, she would likely have had a burst appendix herself. Scary stuff.

  6. Yea... I couldn't read much of it. I even made the font bigger, but then it probably didn't look the way she wanted it to look, and it was still light blue on green-ish...

    And you're wrong about men, by the way. We all act like douchebags, but sometimes we look cute doing it.

  7. Dearest Madame, I can't begin to tell you how thrilled I was to find my review had been completed by you. I am such a fan. Then to find you like my writing - what a buzz. Your words have been resonating with me just below the surface all day. I know exactly what you are saying and yet, I haven't been able to fully comprehend myself as a feminist.

    I do know I started this blog with the idea of empowering women so I'm quite certain that theme carries through, not intentionally, it just happens. I know so many wonderful women who stay with crack head husbands and such, it just pisses me off.

    Your honest review is exactly what a blogger like myself needs: someone to look outside my head and tell me what I sound like to others. If I sound like I'm staging a revolution to usurp the reigns of power from men, I probably am (in the workplace) but I don't want that to come across as my identity as a whole. I fucking love men - as evidenced by the number of times I keep marrying them.

    I am a girly-girl, raised to be a lady in the south, struggling with what that means because I like to cuss and burp and tell dirty jokes now. Plus, my family members are all dead and thus, my girlfriends have become my circle of influence. It's just blowing my mind that you picked up on all that just by reading my blog.

    I'm going to be spending a lot of time re-thinking my angles because frankly, I don't like the kind of woman you described either. I need to find a way to carry my message without sounding all Pat Benataresque.

    To Franklin - I have been contemplating a template change back to something simple. I love the feedback from you and totally agree fairies are not necessary. It was my way of showing the chaos of life amidst the calming sunset. I think that was lost somewhere along the way.

    Thanks to all for the feedback. I will get to work on my font and fairies.

    Hopefully, Madame will grant me another crack of her whip and see if I can force her to fucking love me.

    Long winded? Yes, yes I am.

  8. I liked the writing but tend to agree with Madame on the feel. I think sometimes this happens when someone only let's certain parts of themselves come out on their blog. I'm not one to be interested in stories about illness, especially sick kids but it was riveting. ZenMama knows how to set it up and dish it out and the length for me was not a problem.

  9. Zen Mama--
    First of all, I hope that your daughter is well on the way to a full recovery. That is most important.
    I've spent my life working in creative departments, collaboratng with art directors and graphic designers. Words and art work best when they work together. The first rule is to always make the words easy to read. That's what your words deserve.

  10. I am so happy you found and reviewed Stalking Sunsets. As a former subscriber to Ms. magazine only revoking said subscription as Ms. inflammed me and made me at angry at the very men I also desired, I am for empowering women, and people generally. Women at every age are at the nexus of their own societal training and development. When you are raised by a woman who says be quiet, act nice, play dumb when daddy gets mad, ad nausem, you have to define a different way for yourself in a gnederful world seeking equality.

    Perhaps that is the journey of learning you are reading in Zen Mama's posts. It isn't about post content, it is her life story and all the estrogen that may imply.

    If she were a lesbian, and the partners were women, would you see her as a feminist?

    Men and women are different from one another as evidenced by brain and body anatomy. The female brain has a thicker corpus callosum, which is the band of connecting fibers between the two hemispheres. It makes the brain more capable of multi-tasking among many things. This is important in a variety of tasks that are also part of the fmenine body. Anatomical dimorphism, i.e. two genders with two anatomies does play out in behaviour. Also the male brain and anatomical differences make him handy at certain things.

    I am glad you like her. You really don't need to love her. Nor does she need you to love her. Unless her next partner is you. Now that would be interesting content for a post...

  11. You have to be the most influential Blog reviewer EVER!


Grow a pair.