Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Another Katrina horror story

New Orleans Hospital Staff Discussed Mercy Killings

I don't know if anyone was actually given a lethal injection, but I just found myself thinking about what it would feel like to be in this situation...a health care professional in the middle of a natural disaster, with patients too ill to evacuate safely...what does one do? Do you stay with your patients, facing your own potential injury or death from the hurricane? Do you leave your patients behind, to face the disaster alone? Do you evacuate them, knowing that it will probably kill them? Or do you decide to give them a lethal injection to save them the prospect of dying in the disaster or the evacuation?

Any way you look at it, it's a horrible situation.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Dance musings

I had my every-other-Monday restaurant dance gig tonight, which was fun but exhausting. I find it really hard to shift gears from my day job to dancer so rapidly, and it was an unusually long day at work without any really substantial meals, so I am just feeling "off." However, I did manage to thoroughly embarrass a young girl by getting her up to dance...or rather, I got her up to stand in front of me, completely immobile. I joshed her a bit and moved her hips for her, and then I let her go back to her seat. Her sister, meantime, had pulled her head completely inside her coat (like a turtle) so as to avoid being called to dance. What makes people so intimidated about getting up to dance with the belly dancer? Anyway, everyone seemed to have fun, which is the point. And I like my new music set -- it has a very peppy Hakim song which makes me happy everytime I hear it.

Now I think I need to go to bed, since I am not getting any real work done. After all, tomorrow is another day.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

A rare humorous contribution

I am, again, helping coach the performers for our campus performance of Eve Ensler's play, The Vagina Monologues You should all come see it (Feb. 25 at the Rockville campus of Montgomery College, and Mar. 3 at the Germantown campus of Montgomery College).

Anyway, I was coaching two students who are doing the same monologue -- one at the first show and one at the second show. As one of them left, she said, "goodbye, vagina twin." My instant quip was, "Pussy twin powers, activate! Form of...a vagina! Shape of...another vagina!"

All the students in the room cracked up, and one of them rushed to write it down. I love being able to say outrageous things like that at my job. When I do a brief warm-up for the performers, I usually include a moaning exercise, since it seems to really loosen them up and get them out of there more careful daily selves. And you should hear what comes out of my mouth in my Human Sexuality class!

I love my job.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Dangerous VP on the loose

Vice-President Dick Cheney shot a 78-year-old lawyer on Feb. 11, claiming it to be a hunting accident. James Brady, who was shot during the assassination attempt on Pres. Reagan's life, and his wife, Sarah, responding to the news:

"Now I understand why Dick Cheney keeps asking me to go hunting with him," said Jim Brady. "I had a friend once who accidentally shot pellets into his dog - and I thought he was an idiot." "I've thought Cheney was scary for a long time," Sarah Brady said. "Now I know I was right to be nervous."

Marc Fisher, in his blog on the Washington Post, comments:
Why this story is being played as a brite--that's newspaper lingo for a cute little piece that offers the reader a chuckle--is beyond me. Here's the #2 guy in the nation firing a weapon and hitting a 78-year-old lawyer from Austin, sending him to intensive care. The vice president's office delayed releasing the news for a day (if a vice president shoots somebody deep in the heart of Texas and nobody hears, did it really happen?), the victim was flown to a trauma center and remains in the ICU, and Dick Cheney puts out a statement saying he's glad the guy is doing "fine?" I'm not a doctor, but I've been in enough ICUs to know this: If you're there, you're not "fine." Apparently, the victim will survive and that's good to hear. But isn't it a bit unseemly for the veep to have left town on the afternoon following the quail hunting expedition? If you shot somebody by accident, wouldn't you want to stick around for a couple of days to make certain he was "fine," to express your apology to the family, to offer to help in some way? Even if you are vice president and spend much of your time in secret locations, doesn't basic human decency call for you to cancel your plans and sit tight?

Makes you think...

Thursday, February 9, 2006

Beading meditation

I've rediscovered the fact that I can spend most of a day sewing beads onto fabric and not get bored. It's very soothing and meditative. This is despite the fact that it seems to take forever to cover even an inch of the base fabric...I'm working with Delicas, which are tiny. But the necklace is coming out well, so far -- red and gold, very sparkly! It's a gift for a friend, which makes it even more fun to work on. Plus, I get to watch (or listen to) interesting DVDs while I sew, which is harder when I'm sewing on the machine. And if Q is there, we can snuggle while I bead (as long as I don't accidentally stick him with the needle or sew him into the project!).

I wish I could be beading, instead of writing a worksheet and battling a sinus infection.

Monday, February 6, 2006

Sunday, February 5, 2006

Immersed in pornographic history

I watched the documentary Inside Deep Throat this week, which describes the history of the film Deep Throat, and it was fascinating, on a number of levels. First of all, I've also been reading a book called Grindhouse, which details the history of "adult-only" film in the U.S., and seeing Inside Deep Throat in that context was illuminating, both in terms of its similarities and differences with previous adult-only films. The documentary did an excellent job of framing the film in its cultural context and had very good interview and footage material from the major players in the film's history and relevant academic commentary. Plus, it had extensive, interesting bonus material. The directors clearly got really immersed in the topic and couldn't fit all the great material into the film. I highly recommend the documentary for those interested in the topic. Note: it is rated NC-17, since it includes sexually explicit scenes from the original film.

Some interesting facts:
  • The Miller test for obscenity (as handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court, and still the legal standard today) states that, in order for some material to be obscene, it must (among other things) be without any socially redeeming value. In one of the obscenity cases against Deep Throat, the defense case included a pitch for the film's having value in part through its message that women are entitled to sexual satisfaction, in that the female lead is questing for an orgasmic experience of her own. The prosecution rejoinder was that the film's emphasis on clitoral stimulation for the woman to reach orgasm emphasized the wrong kind of orgasm for women -- that the film encouraged women to believe that it was ok to have an orgasm through clitoral stimulation, and that belief was incorrect, in that women should strive for the vaginal orgasm (as was originally promulgated by Sigmund Freud). This debate was occurring in front of a judge who didn't know what the clitoris was and had to be educated on basic female anatomy. This was in the 1970s. (Dr. Ruth's comment to that in the documentary was that the judge and prosecution should have been in her classes, where she would have taught them the importance of the clitoris in women's orgasm.)
  • The obscenity case against Deep Throat produced the first federal prosecution of an actor (the male actor in the film) on obscenity charges; although he was found guilty, the charge was later overturned on appeal.
  • Deep Throat was produced and distributed through one of the prominent NY organized crime families.
  • Deep Throat was not the first sexually explicit film to be produced or shown in the U.S., nor was it the first to be shown in mainstream theaters -- although the inclusion of X-rated films in mainstream theaters was very new in the U.S. But it was probably the first in the mainstream theaters to be primarily about sex (as opposed to I Am Curious (Yellow), which was really a political polemic which included explicit sexuality), as well as being unapologetic/nonmoralistic in its depiction of erotic and explicit sex, and attempting to be funny. It was probably a combination of factors (including a positive article about "porno chic" in the NYT) which thrust it into the national spotlight (pardon the pun). It was one of the few sexually explicit films which drew a mainstream audience, not just the raincoat brigade. This was additionally fueled by the government's effort to ban it (thanks to Nixon's War on Smut) -- there have been several adult-only films which gained increasing success once there was an effort to censor them. (I'm not sure what that says about human nature.)
  • Although the film grossed huge sums of money and cost very little to produce, very few of those involved made any significant amount of money (apart from the producers).
  • The federal prosecutor for the obscenity case, when interviewed in the film, essentially stated that he thought more obscenity cases should be brought in today's society, and that if we could just get rid of the terrorist distraction, he and his staff would be on the forefront of the war on obscenity.

Interesting stuff. Makes me curious to see the original film!

I was also really struck by pornography's complex messages regarding women's sexuality. At one level, modern pornography holds a liberatory message for women, in that it embraces the notion that women want sex and that it ok for women to enjoy sex (even outside of marriage) and to seek sexual satisfaction. This overturns the Victorian notion of the asexual woman and the double standard which brands any woman who engages in sex with multiple partners or strangers a "slut." At another level, pornography continues to frame women's sexuality in terms of male definitions and fantasies -- in Deep Throat for example, the device of her having a clitoris in her throat creates a context in which fellatio is just as satisfying to her as it is for her male partner, playing into the fantasy that male satisfaction and female satisfaction derive from the same sources. Pornography promotes a number of harmful myths about sexuality; anyone who learns about sex through pornography will have a skewed and inaccurate understanding of female (and male!) sexuality. So at one level, I can see the positive power of demystifying sex through pornography, as well as the usefulness of erotica and pornography for personal sexual exploration and arousal -- it can serve a number of useful purposes. On the other hand, it continues to promote unrealistic and harmful ideas about sexuality, and in a cultural context which provides inconsistent and incomplete sex education, I worry about the role of pornography in people's beliefs and understandings of real sexuality.

What do you think: Pornography good or bad?