Category: current events


I came across the following AP story earlier today: “Slutwalks” Put Provocative Message On The Street.  The story is by Russell Contreras:

BOSTON – This social movement really gets around.

An international series of protests known as SlutWalks, sparked by a Toronto police officer’s flippant comment that women should avoid dressing like “sluts” to avoid being raped or victimized, is taking root in the United States.

Some women and men who protest dress in nothing more remarkable than jeans and T-shirts, while others wear provocative or revealing outfits to bring attention to “slut-shaming,” or shaming women for being sexual, and the treatment of sexual assault victims.

“It was taking the blame off the rapist and on the victim,” said Nicole Sullivan, 21, a student at the University of Massachusetts-Boston and an organizer of the SlutWalk planned here for Saturday. “So we are using these efforts to reclaim the word `slut.'”

The police officer made his comments in January to a group of York University students at a safety forum. He later apologized, but his comments were publicized widely on Facebook and Twitter. They inspired a march in Toronto last month that drew more than 3,000 people, as well as SlutWalks since then in Dallas; Asheville, N.C.; and Ottawa, Ontario.

In addition to Boston, marches are planned in cities including Seattle; Chicago; Philadelphia; Reno, Nev.; and Austin, Texas.

“The event is in protest of a culture that we think is too permissive when it comes to rape and sexual assault,” said Siobhan Connors, 20, of Lynn, Mass., another Boston organizer. “It’s to bring awareness to the shame and degradation women still face for expressing their sexuality … essentially for behaving in a healthy and sexual way.”

The events are similar to “Take Back the Night” rallies and other marches that aim to bring attention to sexual violence. But there are key differences.

SlutWalkers have danced to hip-hop, worn T-shirts with the word “slut” and held signs that read “sluts pay taxes.” Some women have skated around on Rollerblades in lingerie, while their male supporters wore shirts reading, “I love sluts.”

The rallies typically end with speakers and workshops on stopping sexual violence and calling on law enforcement agencies not to blame victims after sexual assaults.

In San Francisco, SlutWalk organizers want to make their protest a family event.

“Singles, couples, parents, sisters, brothers, children, friends,” the SlutWalk SF BAY Facebook page announces. “Come walk or roll or strut or holler or stomp with us.”

Connors said organizers had initially planned for about 100 people to attend the Boston event; by Thursday, more than 2,300 had responded to a Facebook shout-out. Another 2,000 people have similarly committed to attend the SlutWalk Seattle on June 19.

“Everything happened organically,” Sullivan said.

The officer who made the comments, Constable Michael Sanguinetti, was disciplined but remains on duty, Toronto police spokesman Mark Pugash said Thursday.

“We said at the time that his comments were entirely unacceptable, that they didn’t reflect in any way what we train and teach our people,” Pugash said.

Pugash wouldn’t comment on the movement the officer’s comments have spawned.

The Boston SlutWalk group has had to delete several “inappropriate comments” about women and faced criticism from a group that promised to organize a counter “Pimp Walk” in Boston, Connors said.

“We think it was put there as a joke, but it’s disturbing that a number of young people still feel that way,” said Connors, referring to sexist comments left on the page.

Pages dedicated to other cities’ SlutWalks also deleted inappropriate comments.

Connors said the Boston SlutWalk will start at the Boston Commons with protesters marching around the area and will end with a roster of speakers.

As a matter of general principle, I support the idea behind the SlutWalks.  Far too often, women are told that rape is not a crime but instead, it’s a misunderstanding.  If only we dressed appropriately or watched what we said then apparently, rape would be a nonexistent crime.  When a woman is raped, she is first expected to prove that she’s not a “slut.”

(And, let’s be honest, this point of view is not exclusively male.  I’ve seen firsthand that women are just as capable of being as judgmental and narrow-minded.)

If the idea or the name “SlutWalk” seems to be extreme, it’s simpy a reaction to the extreme circumstances that we find ourselves expected to deal with on a daily basis.

Most of the criticism directed towards the slutwalks is that — by dressing provocatively and embracing the term “slut” — the Slutwalkers are, in fact, trivializing the issue.  And to that I say bullshit.  No, none of the men who show up to leer at a slutwalk are going to have their attitudes changed.  But maybe it’s time that we admit that it’s too late to try to change men.  Maybe it’s time that we, as women, admit that we need to change our attitude that somehow, we’ve brought our victimization on ourselves or that we should be ashamed of who we are. 

Until we are willing to stop playing the victim, we will continue to be victimized. 

At the same time, I do have to say that I have no interest in reclaiming the term “slut.”  You guys can keep the word.  I’m perfectly happy with “independent.”

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I'm using this picture because, quite frankly, I think it treats Bin Laden with all the respect he deserves.

Last night, as I watched the news reports about the death of Osama Bin Laden, I heard more than one reporter say, “Now, everyone will remember where they were when they first learned that Osama Bin Laden was dead.”

Myself, I first learned about it at 9:38 last night.  I was sitting on my couch in my beloved black Pirates shirt and underwear, watching the Celebrity Apprentice with my sister Erin and my friend Jeff.  We had already seen the announcement that President Barack Obama was planning on giving a speech at 9:30 and we were ominously informed that the subject of the speech was “unknown.”  Erin was concerned that we were about to get into another war, my (hopeful) guess was that he was going to announce his resignation, and Jeff suggested that he was just wanted to show Donald Trump who was boss.  Luckily, Erin happened to be on twitter and she was the one who first spotted the “Bin Laden’s dead!” tweets.

So, that’s how I first learned that Osama Bin Laden was dead.  I have to be honest, I wish the moment had been a bit more cinematic.  I wish I could say that the circumstances were more like being kissed by a stranger in Times Square on V-Day or something else with a similar romantic appeal.

But no, the reality of the matter is that when I first heard the news, I was lounging on my couch in my panties.  Fortunately, they were at least festive panties.

The panties I was wearing the night Bin Laden died

I do take some comfort, however, in the fact that I probably wasn’t the only person not dressed to witness history that night.  And regardless, history just happens.  It’s not something you can prepare for. 

What’s important, and  I say this as a confirmed bleeding heart pacifist who is opposed to the death penalty and who fervently believes that prisons should be more about rehabilitation than punishment, is that right now, I’ve never been prouder of our armed forces. 

And, in the future, when I’m asked what it was like to first hear that Bin Laden was dead, that’s the answer I’ll give.

I love examining and analyzing and obsessing over blog stats.  Earlier today, I took a look to see what search terms have led people to this blog ever since I first started it last summer.

Here’s the 10 phrases, names, and search terms that have most frequently led people to this blog. 

1) Tim Gunn — 77 views

2) Lisa Marie Bowman boobs — 63 views

3) girl groped in theater — 54 views

4) Lisa Marie Bowman — 49 views

5) Katy Perry boobs — 35 views

6) Gabrielle Giffords Got What She Deserved — 29 views (Hopefully, those 29 people will never visit this site again.  Seriously, I find this to be a hundred times more disturbing than the idea of 63 people trying to look up my boobs on google.)

7) Gabrielle Giffords — 23 views

8 ) my stutter — 20 views

9) Groped in theater — 18 views

10) boobs Lisa Marie Bowman — 15 views

So, what can I gather from these results? 

Well, I’ve already previously stated my reaction to the 6th most popular search term. 

It would seem that quite a few people came here hoping to find a story about getting groped in a theater and I suspect my blog post probably wasn’t what they were looking for.

78 people came here looking for Lisa Marie Bowman’s boobs.  Now, admittedly, I share my name with a few others (including a singer in the UK) but still, I can’t help but take some pride in the possibility that my boobs are more popular than both Tim Gunn and Katy Perry.

Sad to say but very few people have come here looking for information of Victoria Woodhull.

(Right before I started to post this, the story on Yahoo was updated to report that Gabrielle Giffords might not be dead, that she may indeed be alive and in surgery.  So, I’m posting what I originally wrote but I’m just going to say that details are still coming out.  Here’s the latest version of the story, or, at least, the latest as of my posting this.)

U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, a Democrat from Arizona, was shot in the head and, it was initially reported, killed a few hours ago.  She was in Tuscon, doing some sort of constituent event.  The guy who shot her — described as being either in his teen or early 20s — was arrested after attempting to flee.

Not surprisingly, details are pretty sketchy right now but already, you can either go on twitter or read the comments left on Yahoo (or any of the news services) and you can find the usual gang of asshole zealots from both sides of the political divide.

The left-wingers are going. “Tea Party!  Palin!  Tea Party!” with such gleeful abandon that it almost seems as if they’ve been waiting for something like this to happen so they could go, “I told you so…”

Meanwhile, the right-wingers are going, “No, it was a liberal who shot her because she was a moderate…” and again, I have the same reaction to them that I have to the left-wingers.

And then, you’ve got the nuts who are saying that she deserved to die because she was in politics and all the rest.

Meanwhile, never mind the fact that a human being might be dead.  Never mind the fact that her husband may have just lost his wife.  Never mind the fact that her parents may have just lost a daughter.  Never mind the fact that 6 other human beings were killed by the same shooter and that others were wounded.  No, never mind any of that.

Who needs respect for the dead when there’s a bunch of empty rhetoric to be shouted out by a bunch of people who know nothing beyond their own prejudices?

And before I start having to deal with any asshole zealots accusing me of being a right-winger or being a left-wing or anything else, let me say that this has nothing to do with what Giffords’ politics may have been or whether or not I agreed with them.  Nothing.  I know next to nothing about her beyond what happened today.  I don’t know who she is as a person but I do know that nobody deserves to be shot in the head.  Murder is murder, whether the victim is good or bad and whether it’s being carried out by the individual or the state.

This is one reason why I hate dealing with self-annoited political activists.  So many of them think that they can use a bunch of slogans and posturing to cover up their own deficiencies as human beings.  Not one word of sympathy for Giffords’ family from the online zealots on both sides of the political spectrum.  Instead, just a bunch of “See, I told you so!” bullshit.  I don’t care how any one of them may have voted in November, it’s disgusting.

4 days to go until my birthday and I’ve already started to receive presents.  On Wednesday, I received a collection the first 48 issues of The Walking Dead from my fellow pop cultural blogger, Arleigh Sandoc.  Arleigh is the owner of Through The Shattered Lens, a wonderful entertainment site that he graciously allows me to write for.

And then today, I found out I was getting another gift this Sunday.  In fact, I’m getting a gift that I’ve always wanted but I always figured there was no realistic way I’d ever receive it. 

I’m getting more time.

A whole extra hour of it, apparently.

Yes, as I was informed at work earlier today, this Sunday is Daylight Saving Time. 

I’m going to be honest.  I usually hate Daylight Saving Time.  First off, speaking as someone with ADD (yes, I know — who doesn’t have ADD nowadays?  Still, my ADD is worse than yours), it’s difficult enough for me to deal with time without having the hours just randomly change in the middle of the night.  Secondly, speaking as someone with OCD, Daylight Saving Time means that I’m going to have to reset every single clock I own immediately after 2:00 a.m. (or 3:00 a.m. or whatever time it’s going to be — see, it’s started!) or else I’m not going to be able to sleep.  Finally, speaking as someone who might be a hoarder, I own a lot of clocks.

Yes, Daylight Saving Time is a massive pain in the ass and I have yet to find anyone who disagrees with me on this.  What exactly is the point of it all?  According to Wikipedia, Daylight Saving Time has something to do with farming.  I guess I could read the article further to find out just what exactly that is but, to be honest, the article bores me.  If anything, this whole farming thing sounds like an excuse.  Trust me, I’m a country girl and I can tell you this — it doesn’t matter what time the clock says, roosters are going to crow whenever they feel like it, cows are going to smell terrible, and hay is always going to make me reach for my inhaler.

My personal theory is that Daylight Saving Time is meant to serve as a reminder that our time here on this planet is short and that the hours we take for granted can just mysteriously vanish (or reappear) in the middle of the night.  And, honestly, who wants to be reminded of that?  That’s depressing.

Still, I am liking the idea of getting an extra hour. After all, how many times a year do you get to spend an hour in a state of suspended limbo?  It’s almost like one of those movies where the hero goes back in the past to correct his mistakes.

Here’s my idea of the perfect way to celebrate Daylight Saving Time.  Do whatever you need to do from 2:00 a.m to 3:00 am.  Then, when that extra hour kicks in, do the exact opposite.  See which hour goes better for you and use that hour as a template for the rest of your life.

It’s Election Day and therefore, today seems like as good a day as any to share a few random facts and opinions about the history and role of women in U.S. politics.

(That clicking sound you hear is the sound of a handful of men all navigating away from this page at the same time.)

As I wrote on Women’s Equality Day, American women did not truly win the right to vote until 1920.  Before then, women could (and some were) put in jail simply for trying to exercise a right that we now all take  for granted.  Oddly enough, in most states, women could run for and hold public office.  They just couldn’t vote for themselves.

The first woman ever to be elected to any public office in the United States was Suzanna M. Salter who was elected mayor of Argonia, Kansas in 1887.  She was 27 years old at the time.  She served as mayor for one term before retiring at the age of 29.  She lived to be 101 years old and never sought ran in another election.

Nellie Taylor Ross also lived to be a 101 years old.  As well, she was the 1st women to be elected governor of a state.  She was elected governor of Wyoming in 1924, succeeding her late husband in office.  She was defeated for reelection two years later but remained a prominent figure in Democratic politics.

The first woman ever elected to the U.S. House was Republican Jeanette Rankin, who was first elected from Montana in 1916.  She’s famous for opposing (and voting against) American entry into both World War I and World War II.  In both instances, her pacifism led to her either being voted out of or voluntarily leaving office.  While it’s difficult for me to accept her vote against entering World War II, she was a woman who consistently stood by her beliefs even when they weren’t popular and even when she knew they would lead to the end of her career.  That’s a lesson that several of our current government leaders would do well to learn.

The first woman to serve as a state senate majority leader was also the first woman to be appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court — Sandra Day O’Connor.

The first female senator was Rebecca Felton of Georgia.  A Democrat, she was appointed to the Senate in 1922 and served a total of one day.  The first woman to actually be elected to the U.S. Senate was Hattie Carraway of Arkansas.  A Democrat, Carraway was first elected in a 1931 special election to fill the seat that had previously been held by her late husband.  She later shocked a lot of people for running for winning two terms on her own.

Since 1922, 38 women have served in the U.S. Senate.  17 currently serve in the U.S. Senate.  In today’s general election, a total of 16 women (including incumbents) will be running for a Senate seat.  According to current polling, there should be a record number of women in the U.S. Senate after today’s election.  That number will still probably only account for about 20 to 22% of the total membership. 

(Meanwhile, 51% of the citizens governed by this 80% male Senate are female.)

Women have been running for President even before they were legally allowed to vote.  However, the first woman to launch a serious campaign for the presidential nomination of either one of the two major political parties was Republican U.S. Sen. Margaret Chase Smith of Maine who ran in 1964.  Smith was followed by Shirley Chisholm and Patsy Mink (two Democrats who ran in 1972), Pat Schroeder (Democrat, 1988), Elizabeth Dole (Republican, 2000), Carol Mosely Braun (Democrat, 2004), and Hillary Rodham Clinton (Democrat, 2008). 

Clinton came the closest of that group to actually winning the nomination and, arguably, was the first woman to ever have a truly serious chance at doing so.  That said, it still wasn’t good enough to convince Barack Obama to offer her the vice presidency.  That role went to Joe Biden, a well-meaning, old school sexist if there ever was one. 

In fact, only two women have been nominated for Vice President by a major political party.  Geraldine Ferraro was nominated by the Democrats in 1984.  Sarah Palin was nominated by the Republicans in 2008.  In both cases, the nominations were dismissed as gimmicks and both Ferraro and Palin were subjected to criticism and scrutiny that had little to do with their qualifications (or lack thereof) and everything to do with the fact that they were women being judged by a male-dominated mainstream media.  Hence, Ferraro was attacked for marrying a charming guy who turned out to be a crook and Palin was attacked for the clothes she wore and her daughter’s out-of-wedlock pregnancy. 

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not saying that either Ferraro or Palin was a good choice for the Vice Presidency or the Presidency.  Obviously, there are many legitimate concerns about Sarah Palin.  While I’m only familiar with Ferraro from history books, it appears that the same could be said about her.  My only point here is that rather than focus on the legitimate issues about either one of these candidates, the media decided to focus on their gender and judged them less on the issues and more on preconceived assumptions of the “proper” role of a woman in politics.

(That role, by the way, is to be a sexless, opinionless, and humorless cardboard cut-out with absolutely no history beyond the day they were first elected to public history.)

Though no woman has ever been nominated for the presidency by a major political party, many women have run for President on third-party tickets.  The first to do so was my personal hero, Victoria Woodhull.  In 1872, 34 year-old spiritualist, journalist, and free love advocate Woodhull attempted to run for President as the candidate of the Equal Rights Party.  For her troubles, she spent election day in jail.  The election was won by Ulysses Grant who, it is generally agreed, was one of the worst Presidents in U.S. history.

Since Woodhull’s day behind bars, approximately 25 women have been nominated for the presidency by a third or independent party, everyone from the National Equal Rights Party’s Belva Ann Lockwood (the first female attorney to ever argue a case in front of the Supreme Court) in 1884 to the Green Party’s Cynthia McKinney in 2008.

The first woman to ever receive a vote in the electoral college was Theodora Nathan, the libertarian candidate for Vice President in 1972.  She received one vote from a California elector named Roger MacBride.

Both my Aunt Kate and my mom were fond of saying that if women were in charge of the world, there would be no more wars.  I don’t agree with that but then again, could Victoria Woodhull possibly have been a worse president than Ulysses S. Grant?

It’s something to consider.

When I’m at work, one of the things I usually look forward is the daily visit of the FedEx Guy.  He usually shows up an hour or two after I get back from lunch.  I’ll sign for whatever he’s dropping off, he’ll ask me how I’m doing, and I’ll smile and laugh at whatever joke he happens to make that day.  It’s a nice break from the usual monotony of answering the phone and telling people, “If you want to have a seat, he’ll be right with you.”

However today, when the FedEx guy showed up, my boss literally ran out of his office so that he could greet him with, “Well, how about them Cowboys!?”

The FedEx guy started to shake his head and said, “Did you watch the whole game?”

Now, I should probably add that, until this afternoon, I have never even seen either my boss or the FedEx guy share so much as a simple greeting.  However, they were soon having a very impassioned conversation that, though they were both apparently speaking English, I could not begin to follow.

Finally, I managed to figure out that neither one of them was happy with the Cowboys.

Sitting behind my desk, I worked up the courage to interrupt them by asking, “Are the Cowboys not doing well?”

As soon as I spoke, both of their heads snapped in my direction and they both stared at me silently in apparent disbelief.

“No,” my boss finally said, “they’re not doing well.”

“Oh,” I meekly replied.

Now, I have to admit.  I’m not a sports fan.  I never have been.  Some of it’s because I associate most sports with having asthma attacks in public school gyms.  A lot of it is because I only had to hear that stupid thing about there being “no I in team” once before I decided that was nothing I wanted anything to do with.  There’s also the fact that I hate the fact that football players always seem to have sweat stains on their pants.  I mean, seriously.  That’s just really gross.  And I like to think that a lot of it has to do with the fact that some people are naturally into sports and some people are naturally into doing something worthwhile.

Of course, I’m not totally ignorant when it comes to sports.  I live in Dallas, Texas and there’s no way you can totally avoid sports around here.  Dallas is an sports-crazed city.  It’s part of the culture and you can’t escape it even if you want to.

So, I know that we have a football team that’s known as the Cowboys.  I know that Tony Romo used to date Jessica Simpson and I know that another player named Miles Austin is dating Kim Khardashian. 

I also know that Dallas has a baseball team called the Texas Rangers and the Rangers are apparently going to the World Series sometime tomorrow.  I’m pretty sure that they have to win four games to win a championship or something like that.

Dallas has a basketball team but, for the life of me, I can not remember what they’re called.  I do know that they’re owned by Mark Cuban who briefly had a really, really bad reality TV show that was a rip-off of The Apprentice.

I’m about 75% sure that we have a hockey team.  I remember that in college, me and my friend Kendra briefly decided that we were going to be hockey fans.  Kendra actually stuck with that plan but I kinda ended up getting distracted by …. well, I don’t really remember what.

Dallas might have a soccer team too.  Who does David Beckham play for?  And another thing — what’s the deal with soccer riots in Great Britain?  Oh, and yes — I know that soccer is called football everywhere else.  I don’t care.  It’s a stupid game.

Oh!  I just realized that I know the name of one soccer player!  Carla Overbeck.  But, I should admit that the only reason I know about her is because she’s in this PSA that shows up on the Lifetime Movie Network every 20 minutes or so.

Shortly before I graduated college, I attended a workshop for women who were preparing to enter the job market.  One of the lectures I attended (and kinda listened to though, I should admit, it was a very long lecture and I’ve usually only got a 7-minute attention span at best) dealt with the difficulty the some women have communicating in a male-dominated workplace.  And one of the main difficulties cited was that men often speak in sports terminology.  I guess it’s their own secret code.

To be honest, at first, I thought that the lecturer was overstating the problem.  How hard, I wondered, could it be to figure out?  I mean, I’m not into football but I know what a touchdown is and I know that “hitting a home run” is a good thing.  I always thought I knew what guys were referring to when they talked to first, second, or third base (though the specifics — especially the meaning behind second — always seemed to vary depending  on which guy was explaining it).  But the lecturer started to reel off all the phrases and terms that had apparently been causing confusion and, as I listened, I felt like I was attending a Latin Mass.  I recognized the sounds that were being made but they didn’t make a damn bit of sense to me.

So, no, I’m not a sports fan and if that means I’m conforming to some sort of stereotype, so be it.  Quite frankly, as I listened to my boss and the FedEx guy suffering such angst over the Cowboys, I was happy to be ignorant.  Seriously, I already have enough drama in my life without concerning myself with whether or not a bunch of strangers can score a certain amount of points.

Life’s too short to get upset about something as silly as sports.  Especially, when someone like Gretchen makes it to the finale of Project Runway while Michael Costello gets sent home.  Now that’s something to get upset about…

I love my Aunt Kate and I know she loves me but often times, we have trouble showing it.  To a large extent, it’s a generational thing.  She’s a part of the generation of women who rebelled against a sexist society by burning bras, protesting outside of the halls of government, and never allowing any man to get away with casually referring to her as sweetheart, babe, doll, dear, or any other term that would have served to diminish her.  Because of the society she lived in, everything she did — from the clothes she wore to the jobs she took to the way she signed her name — had to be done in a way that rejected anything that would have allowed men to stereotype her.  My aunt is part of a generation of feminists that were and are often referred to as being “strident.”  But if Kate was strident, it was because she didn’t have much choice.  Anything less than stridency would have been surrender.

As for me, I’m a part of the generation that can afford not to be strident.  I’m a part of the generation that can be feminine because we want to and not because society is holding a gun to our head and demanding it.  I’m a part of the generation that takes for granted the freedoms that my aunt fought and suffered for.  While I tend to forget that my aunt grew up in a time when women had to fight, I think she sometimes doesn’t realize that just because I might spend a while getting my makeup just right, I’m doing that for me and not because it’s demanded of me by a patriarchal society.  As a result, me and Kate argue way too much and often times, I forget to thank her for making the world a better place for me. 

I’m happy to say, however, that Kate and I have found something that we totally agree on.  We both love Tim Gunn, the former fashion school dean who is best known for playing the role of mentor on 8 seasons of Project Runway and counting.  Apparently, Tim — yes, both me and Kate consider ourselves to be on a first name basis with Tim — was recently in Frisco, Texas on some sort of promotional tour.  My aunt was among the countless women who came to see and hear him.  Kate approached him afterward, told him how much she “respected” him, and she got a hug in return.  She said it was one of the nicest hugs she’d ever received and that doesn’t surprise me at all.  He’s Tim Gunn after all!

Why do we love Tim Gunn?

Tim Gunn knows fashion.  This goes without saying.  The thing that always impresses me about Tim on Project Runway is that he’s definitely a man of another generation yet he still respects the opinions and the fashions of my generation.  He’s that rare older man who doesn’t expect or demand that a woman in her 20s either dress like 1) our grandmother or 2) like we’re posing for the cover of Lolita.

Tim Gunn is gay.  Don’t doubt just how important this one little fact is.  As a woman, you are constantly aware that every guy you meet is, somewhere in the back of his mind, deciding whether or not you are — to put it crudely — fuckable.  Everything a guy says to you, you have to wonder: Is he telling me the truth or is he just trying to get in my pants?  And if he isn’t trying to get into my pants — why not?  Obviously, this can lead to a lot of confusion, stress, and hurt feelings.  But Tim, bless him, is not only gay but openly and obviously so.  We know he is only interested in looking at the clothes on our body as opposed to our body underneath our clothes.  Tim’s a man that we can actually trust and how often do you actually meet one of those?  At the same time, since Tim is a man, a woman doesn’t have to worry that he’s been busy hating her behind her back or that he’s been spreading lies and innuendo just because her ass looks better in skinny jeans than his does.  In short, Tim Gunn is the ideal platonic male friend.

Tim Gunn has been celibate since breaking up with his boyfriend.  They broke up 20 years ago.  In interviews, Tim has explained that he’s remained celibate because he’s still in love with his former partner.  Since I have tendency to go crazy if I’m celibate for 20 hours, it’s hard for me to imagine what 20 years of voluntary celibacy could possibly be like.  That’s not a life I would really wish on anyone but it’s hard for me not to read that and go “awww…” at the fact that Tim would apparently choose to simply be celibate as opposed to just doing it with someone who he doesn’t love.

Tim Gunn could spend hours in a fabric store.  How many men can you say that about?

Tim Gunn is always sophisticated but never a snob.  One of my favorite parts of Project Runway is when the show finally leaves either NYC or L.A. and Tim visits the finalists in their own hometowns.  For whatever reason, each season seems to feature quite a few designed who come from and live out in Deliverance country.  It’s hard to describe the delight I get from seeing Tim, in his perfectly tailored suits and not a hair out-of-place, discussing fashion while surrounded by sagging pants, beer bellies, manboobs, and rampaging cellulite.  In a world where belching has become an acceptable form of debate, there is something comforting in knowing that there’s at least one man out there who still makes the effort.  What’s even more appealing is that, unlike me, Tim Gunn would never (at least not in public) use the phrase “deliverance country” when talking about the people he’s just met.  There’s a lot of be said for a man who can be sophisticated without feeling the need to call attention to that fact.

Tim Gunn has one of the few hearts in reality television.  One thing about most reality TV regulars: they’re very quick to let you know what they think of each season’s group of contestants.  On Survivor, Jeff Probst always lets us know which tribe he considers to be the most pathetic.  Julie Chen often struggles to remember just who exactly is living in the Big Brother house.  Chris Harrison can’t wait for  the Bachelor to screw up his engagement.  Don’t even get me started on those two fascists that seem to be intent on giving everyone a heart attack on Biggest Loser.  However, Tim Gunn is always seems to be sincere when he sends the latest cut designer up to the workroom to clean his or her space.  With is warm hug and his apologetic tone, Tim has probably kept more than a few failed designers from committing suicide after having to listen to Heidi Klum tell them that “We’ve seen it before and, quite frankly, we’re bored…”

Tim Gunn speaks his mind.  Tim may be nice but he speaks his mind.  One of the best things about this current season of Project Runway has been watching Tim put judgmental, catty snobs like Gretchen and Ivy in their place.  Who didn’t cheer when Tim said he couldn’t understand why the other designers were meekly allowing themselves to be “bullied” by Gretchen or when he showed up at the workroom and told Ivy to stop accusing Michael Costello of “cheating?”  There are times when I wish I could have someone like Tim Gunn with me whenever I’m at work and I know I’m going to have to deal with the women who work in the office next to mine. 

Tim Gunn is willing to call the Kardashians “vulgar.”  Somebody had to say it.

Tim Gunn does the right thing.  One of the reasons why my aunt said she “respected” Tim Gunn is because of a recent  video Tim made in response to the recent suicides of several gay teenagers.  In that video, Tim talks about how he tried to take his own life when he was 17 and still coming to terms with his sexuality.  Here’s something else that me and Kate agree on — I respect Tim Gunn too.  It takes courage to talk publicly about something that painful.  While everyone always talks about how tragic suicide is, there’s still a stigma attached to actually admitting that you have ever been in that dark of a place.  That Tim Gunn — who certainly didn’t have to — chose to open up that part of his life says a lot about who he is and why he’s earned the respect of both me and my aunt.

Tim Gunn gave me and my Aunt common ground.  After me and my aunt had spent a little while talking about how much we both love Tim, we came to an agreement.  From now on, whenever she’s tempted to admonish me or I’m tempted to get an attitude with her, we are simply going to ask ourselves, “What would Tim Gunn do?”

Bullying — especially cyberbullying — has been in the news a lot recently.  Right now, the big story concerns Tyler Clementi, a student at Rutgers University who jumped off a bridge after video of him making out with another man was posted on the Internet.  Before that, there was the heartbreaking case of Phoebe Prince in Massachusetts and Megan Meier in Missouri — two teenage girls who committed suicide rather than face another day of being taunted.

Reading these stories, I always find myself wondering if I just got lucky.  I had my share of issues when I was in high school but bullying — at least not the type of bullying that Phoebe Prince had to endure — was never one of them.  I had to deal with the catty remarks and whispered innuendo.  Phoebe Prince, meanwhile, had empty cans thrown at her while she tried to walk home and spent the last few days of her life in constant fear that she was going to be physically attacked.  That’s no way for a fifteen year-old to live her life.

And then consider Megan Meier who was only 13 and was essentially murdered by an adult named Lori Drew who thought it would be funny to set up a fake MySpace account for a fictional boy who would befriend Meir and then reject her.  Drew, incidentally, was the mother of one of Meier’s classmates.  The Drew family lived next door to the Meier family.  I’m not sure if Lori Drew knew that Megan Meier (like me) had been diagnosed as suffering from both ADD and Depression.  But it really doesn’t matter, does it?  As a woman, Lori Drew knows what it’s like to be an insecure, 13 year-old girl.

And yes, I know that a jury acquitted Lori Drew on criminal charges.  I don’t care if what Lori Drew did was criminal or not.  It was wrong and there’s no excusing it.

(Drew’s own explanation was that it was a “joke” meant to “mess with Megan.”)

I look at the cases of Phoebe Prince and Megan Meier and now Tyler Clementi and I have to wonder if I was just lucky or if, in the just the six years since I graduated high school, things have really degenerated that much.

What’s truly frustrating is that despite all of these stories about the consequences of bullying, nothing seems to be changing.  Obviously, kids and teenagers are going to bully each other.  It’s what you do when you’re insecure and being in your teens is all about being insecure.  The question everyone asked after Phoebe Prince’s suicide was — where were the adults?  As far as I know, that question hasn’t been answered yet.

Then again, in the case of Megan Meier, we know where at least one adult was.  That adult, Lori Drew, was off trying to be a teenager the only way she knew how.  And, as quickly as everyone was to declare their hatred of Lori Drew, I doubt she’s an isolated example.

So, if the adults can’t be counted on, is there a solution beyond people simply treating each other with a little common decency?  Or is that something that has apparently been judged to be passé?

To be honest, I started this post mostly because I wanted to mention a news story that I read today:

Woman Travels 200+ Miles To Kill Internet Commenter

If nothing else, maybe this story will cause some to give second thought to using the Internet’s false sense of security as an excuse to indulge in bullying.

If you can’t bring yourself to worry about the person you might kill, at least worry about the person who might end up killing you.

Tonight, I am writing to you from the guest room of my sister’s house in Arlington, Texas.  I’ve spent the past few hours celebrating my sister Melissa’s birthday and I’m just a wee bit tipsy but sober enough to type.  Fear not, I’m not drinking and blogging.  I’ve got jury duty tomorrow in downtown Dallas.  I really should follow the lead of Erin and pass out at this point. 

But, sometimes, you spot things online and you simply have to take the time to comment on them.  For example —

Fear not, all you neurotic, activist types.  Aliens have deactivated our nuclear arsenal.

Wow, that’s a relief.

I always find it interesting how quick people are to assume that, if aliens are visiting us, it’s because they want to keep us from blowing each other up or contributing to global warming.  I guess now that more and more people are coming to the conclusion that God isn’t going to show his face any time soon, aliens are the secular deus ex machina.

Of course, I guess it’s a bit easier to just put your faith in the aliens than to actually try to change human nature.

In the end, I think this article (and some of the comments left by other readers) says less about aliens and more about the fact that there’s a large segment of humanity who will believe anything as long as it’s 1) written down and 2) on the Internet. 

After all, they think, if it wasn’t true, why would anyone go through the trouble to actually record and publicize it?

Why indeed?

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