Posts from May 2001

Boston Marriages and Learning to Live Together in spite of Patriarchy

A wonderful article by Pagan Kennedy explores the concept of the platonic Boston marriage between two straight women who have committed to living with each other [Ms.]. It also begins to explore the features of the patriarchal world that make this kind of arrangement so hard for so many women. An interesting sidebar: the emergence and sensationalism of lesbianism (we’ll call it pseudolesbian from here on out to distinguish it from actual women-loving-women) in male-dominated culture was emerging precisely at the same time as the most pitched part of the battle for suffrage, and women’s inclusion into the political sphere in general. Pseudolesbianism emerged again as a pornographic staple in the 1970s as the Second Wave entered its most pitched and giddiest phase. It seems like the pornographic sexualization of intimate relationships between women is the primordial Backlash, and is used as a bludgeon to help keep women isolated from one another in the same way that sexualization of intimacy is used to keep men and women from forming deep friendships and the same way that faggot is used to abort any emotional or physical intimacy between men. In each of the cases the relationships formed are then shuttled off into some anonymous-ideal form of relating: through Femininity, through Heterosexuality, through Masculinity. Of course, the effect of each is very different: Masculinity is culturally conditioned to dominance, aggression, authoritarianism, instrumental reason; Femininity to submission, passivity, emotion; Heterosexuality is what you get when you put the two of them together. We need to begin the project that Kennedy evokes so beautifully, of learning to live together and be present to one another, imagining alternative ways without the bludgeon of a patriarchal sexuality invading that life. (Well, hell, you might argue: it’s not just this platonic stuff; we also need to relearn how to have sexual relationships without the bludgeon of a patriarchal sexuality invading that life. And you’d be right).

Underground Christian Hardcore and Hip-Hop

Lauren Sandler explores the underground Christian hardcore and hip-hop scenes in the Village Voice. The article is not only a fascinating piece of sociology of religion, but also of personal interest to me: I have a cousin who played on the underground Christian metal scene during the 1980s and 1990s. He was into death metal and thrash rather than the hardcore/punk scene, but from what I can tell it’s basically the same dynamics.

Baltimore Housing Projects Provide Computers and Training to Residents

As leery as I am of the idea that hooking everyone to the Internet is all we need to solve all the economic problems, I do think that this program in Baltimore’s Section VIII housing [NY Times] to provide free computers and high-speed Internet access along with computer literacy training is a nice step in the right direction, and ought to be expanded. One quibble: why doesn’t the housing authority let the residents actually own the computers they give away? Of course, this is a problem that expands to the rental economy of the Section VIII system as a whole. What people in poverty really need is affordable housing that will be their own, not a shelter provided by the government that gives them a cheaper way into the system of rental exploitation.

Globalization Protests Become Video Game at Orgy of Commercial Capitalism

At the E3 in Los Angeles, one of the world’s biggest orgies of commercial capitalism, Rockstar Games unveiled an upcoming game loosely premised on the violent elements of the anti-WTO mass protests in Seattle [Indymedia Newswire]. Sometimes the world is just so damn surreal that it defies commentary….

The Battle for a Grassroots Internet Experience

Jon Katz writes an interesting article on the battle between corporate power and individual creativity on the Internet in Technology And The Fast Food Nation [Slashdot]. I am a bit tired of all these apocalyptic Woe is me, AOHell will take us over articles when so much of the Internet experience can be and is being defined by brilliant and revolutionary bottom-up forums like, well, Slashdot, and the Independent Media Centers, and FreeSpeech Internet Television, and Blogger, and even the user-community aspects of big corporate sites like Amazon.com and Salon.com. This is a battle that we can easily win, if we keep up the kind of decentralized networks that these tools allow and promote them. Of more concern, of course, is the continuing amalgamation and control of Internet access points through corproate mergers and sweetheart telecom legislation. What can we start doing to reverse this? We need to start looking towards microfinance to keep small entrepreneurs afloat. We also need to look to building guerilla network infrastructures such as are already beginning to crop up, and making these infrastructures accessible to people other than hardcore geeks. And, of course, we need to work at the legislative level to oppose the continuing progress of corporate privilege and corporate power over telecommunications. The best part about these bottom-up Internet technologies is that they may provide a key component of creating the political and economic networks we need to make all this a reality.