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Archive for March, 2009

poor people totally matter, except when they eat shit we don’t like

Posted by pocochina on March 31, 2009

Before I start, I want to say that generally, I really recommend Redstar’s (a former H1K compatriot) page at change.org, US Poverty. However, she’s taking some light-posting time, and in her sorta-absence, there have been some guest posts from those along the poverty activism spectrum, including a couple of writers on hunger issues.  Now, I agree with the guest hunger bloggers that the poor should not have to eat unhealthy or less-healthy food.  However, in two articles now, there’ve been some deeply judgmental (and implicitly, though not explicitly, anti-fat) statements about food available to the poor.

Hammond’s article describes a mixed  reaction to seeing food bank employees turning away food.  A mixed reaction.   Now, I shouldn’t say that with such irritation – my reaction was “mixed” too, between fury and disgust.  It’s important to remember, when talking about nutrition for the hungry, that not all the world is on a fucking diet.  People need a certain caloric intake to live healthily – probably around 2000 calories for an adult, but for the working poor, especially those in jobs like retail or food service, where you’re on your feet all day, it could easily be higher – and, though I’m not a hunger expert, I think it’s probably safe to say that many of those depending on food banks don’t get that.  So when we talk approvingly about deciding for the hungry that of course it’s right to substitute an apple which may (around 65 calories) or may not (exactly zero calories) even exist for a cupcake (around 250 calories, less for low-fat or mini cupcakes; more  for larger ones) which definitely exists, it’s not just gallingly condescending, it’s deciding for the poor that they don’t need an entire 10% of their daily calorie intake – excuse me, their optimal intake, which they are almost certainly not getting – because we don’t approve of their sugar choices.  Aside from which, yes, Virginia, there really is nutrutional value to fat.  You need a certain amount of fat.*  Those of us who can afford to choose our food without Very Concerned Helpers parceling it out are likely to get enough, and to be able to choose polyunsaturated veggie-based fat, but if you can’t, you can’t.  To Hammond’s credit, there’s no explicit fat hate in his writing, but there’s plenty floating free in the comments, and you don’t have to be a friggin’ Conan Doyle creation to figure out what was behind the refusal of the pastries.  And there’s absolutely no suggestion of a zero-sum choice given to the food bank workers – it’s not as if they could take, say, 100 items of food and decided that if something had to go, it should be the pastries.  They could have taken more food for the hungry, and they chose not to.  So Hammond’s rosy visions of of “kids munching on apples and carrots” are, almost assuredly, pipe dreams, gross distortions of the actual picture, which is growing children not munching enough, thus also permanently distorting their body chemistry.

This story goes to the RQ’s point about charity – it fuckin’ doesn’t work for long-term solutions.  I’m not saying don’t give to food banks (if you can, totally!  Even if it’s the DREADED CUPCAKES), or that it’s wrong somehow for poor people to take advantage of food banks, but that we won’t solve long-term nutritional issues with individual giving and decisions.  It takes the power away from the individual person choosing her foods for the day, and puts it in the hands of a person who, likely, has never had to make those particular cost-benefit analyses.  It’s not just that it’s offensive to the dignity of individuals, but it’s also perilous because theses decision-makers are a product of our systemically bigoted society.  Poverty, hunger, malnourishment and the resulting health problems are structural issues.  They require serious, structural solutions based on lots of rational thinkers with serious resources.

However, even when we do move up to large-scale policy changes, we still can’t stay away from condescending judgment about the food choices of the poor.  Plotkin’s post, about the expansion in New York and Delaware of the WIC program to include fruits and vegetables, is right on in some instances, and painfully condescending in others.  He talks equally approvingly about “adding fruit and vegetables” and “limiting access to high-calorie, high-fat foods such as processed fruit juice and cheese,” and there he loses me.  If you’re stretching food stamps to feed an entire family, “high calorie” is not necessarily a bad thing.  Again, if this is your only way to get several thousand calories a day on the tightest budget possible, you’re still going to not just want, but need, the option of calorie-dense foods.  Aside from his goofy contention that juice is “high fat” (I realize I’ve spent more time than most people ever will searching for meaning in nutritional labels, but really, not a mistake to make if you want to make while establishing your Superior Nutritional Decisionmaker cred), he ignores some basic realities – if a box of macaroni and cheese feeds your kids for 50 cents, it’s still not an unreasonable choice in the face of the Librul Dood Sanctioned apple (a delicious and healthy snack, but no substitute for an actual dinner).  Juice, even if undesirably HFCS-y, might be a cheap source of vitamins.  Sugar can calm down kids with ADHD – valuable enough for any parent with a child who experiences ADHD, but maybe the only relief for a kid whose family Then, as in the previous article and comments, there’s some very concerned lecturing about how the poor folks need a nice white dude to teach them how to eat properly.  The fact is, until a substantive amount of nutritious food is genuinely affordable, these musings about what the poor should and shouldn’t eat aren’t going to amount to more than privileged moralizing.  He also buys into the panic-mongering about weight.  For the hundred thousandth fucking time, weight and health are not synonymous. Even if they were, the article buys into the idea that poor kids’ weight and health is due just to the damn cheese and juice is simplistic and self-serving.  Quoth Kate:

  1. Poor people are a lot more likely to go through cycles of eating too few calories followed by bingeing — which, when it’s known as “dieting,” instead of “only being able to afford enough food sometimes” — has indeed been shown to make people fatter in the long run;
  2. Plenty of poor people are getting at least the recommended amount of daily exercise at their jobs, but show up as “sedentary” in surveys that ask about how much people work out in their leisure time — i.e., the kind of time that someone working 2 or 3 physically demanding jobs probably doesn’t have;
  3. In this country, African-Americans and Latinos are disproportionately poor, and they also happen to be genetically predisposed to having higher weights than white people.

If you aren’t thinking about those three factors when you think about poverty and fatness — not to mention rigorously asking yourself what else you might be forgetting — you can fuck right off, as far as I’m concerned. But having said that, of course I’m all for making nutritious food and safe exercise opportunities more available to poor people — not to mention, oh, the time to cook fresh foods and exercise (outside of work) that comes with making a living wage while working a reasonable number of hours.

Not to mention the utter cruelty of this to children growing up already pre-disposed to eating disorders.  Contrary to popular opinion, and certainly to the ignorance of the bloggers in question, the girl-children growing up in poverty are still susceptible to eating disorders, and almost definitely do not have access to the mental health resources needed to overcome an ED.  How cruel it is to reinforce unhealthy good food/bad food dichotomies with the stamp of the fucking government, and how thoughtless to praise such an action without even considering this near-guaranteed consequence.

In other words, adding fruit, veggie, whole grain, and soy choices to food assistance programs is surely necessary to making those nutritional benefits available to the poor, but it’s not close to sufficient.  It’s not an equal swap between three apples and one pound of pasta, even though they’ll both cost roughly the same thing.   And making food available to the poor isn’t an either-or, where we get to sit down and decide what they should and shouldn’t eat, so we don’t have to think about poor people daring to eat food of which we disapprove.  There should be more food available to the poor.  Food and poverty is complicated, I’ll give the bloggers that, and everyone deserves all the healthy food they need, and the choice between different degrees of healthy and unhealthy food.  We as a country need to do a lot better on affordable nutrition and adequate living standard for everyone.  What poor folks don’t deserve is  more insult to their dignity and decision making skills by their supposed allies.

  • I’ll never forget when #8, in going over my diet for potential sleep problem triggers, told me I probably wasn’t getting enough fat and should eat more potatoes.  I think I stared at her cross-eyed for a few seconds before I started having dreamy fantasies about the french fries I was going to start eating again.  Didn’t help the sleep like they were supposed to, but on the other hand….mmm, fries.  Clearly these men do not approve of #8 and her evil quest to help people sleep.

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Dollhouse – True Believer

Posted by pocochina on March 22, 2009

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  • that’s a lot from previous personalities on the “previously on.”  To give us an idea of Echo on the job?  I like Adele’s voiceover better.
  • This person seems to be a longstanding client who understands the dollhouse.  Hey, buddy, “family values” and “women’s issues” don’t jibe, ever.  And he’s… a fed?  A federal prosecutor?  No, a SENATOR.  From Arizona?  Heh. So the Dollhouse is at least a regional operation (at least this dollhouse is, there could be more), and at least some influential people know about it.  And of course they can utterly destroy him if he speaks up – they can just whip up a sex worker with an embarassing story.  So is Ballard right in the pilot that someone important is keeping him away from it, or is he stymied by actives and not doing a very good job?  I suppose a bit of both.
  • Dr Fred!  Yay!  Surgery?  WTF?  I’d thought the personality would be blind, not Echo herself.  I wonder if they put the visual impairment into the personality as well?  I guess they’d have to, for her to have the childhood backstory.
  • Is Helo setting someone up with drugs?  Federal agents know better than to tell people where to bring “the drugs.”  They’ll either say “it” or “the vicoden” or “the sweet, sweet seeds of the flowers of the Lord” or something.  Mellie a) has serious boobs and b) is awfully curious.
  • Aww Victor!  Is it wrong that I just think it’s kind of sweet?  How has this not happened before?  Topher can short circuit physiological reactions to sexual stimuli?  (/Brennan.)  My point being, that’s not something that happens from memory or personality.  Love is complicated, but erections come from the bison part of the brain.  Now if Sierra wasn’t his type (if we even have innate types) but he was socialized into thinking she was sexy, that could be different.  And why, why are we conflating “sexuality” with “erections”?  Oh, right, Topher.
  • Dr. Fred is just too precious. Sure, we pull people off the street and erase their free will, but nobody here would do anything so evil as to ignore a health and safety memo!  Land sakes!  I am so deeply intrigued by what her motivations are.  She does treat the Dolls ethically and seems like a competent doctor, and with at least some grasp on psychiatry.  Does she have some personal reason to want to be able to experiment on people?  Speaking of, I wonder if the Dollhouse is at the cutting edge of most experimental surgery?
  • Repeated imprints are a thing?  If it sinks in to the Doll persona, does it impact the person once memory is restored?  I mean, common experiences, if not actual personae. Kinda goes back to what we were talking about with last week’s ep – but then, this is as much conjecture as anything Topher says or does, since we figure out that it’s Sierra.
  • Topher has masculinity issues like whoa.  He can fuck with people’s minds but not look at a woody?  The appeal of science does not go as far as FEAR OF COCK.  You can just see Dr. Fred having a woman-thought about how Topher needs to stop being a man-child.  I wonder if or how it influences his creation of the personalities, if not his treatment of the actives.
  • Why does Blondie have the right to deny extraction?  And Boyd can read people, he should have known to call DeWitt directly.  Boyd is loving being around other cops again. In fact, it generally looks like Boyd read the script/took some stupid pills this week.  I wonder if he knows what they did to her; if he did he should be a lot more worried knowing what could happen.  And when he carries her out,Langdon should be avoiding the cameras.  Maybe Caroline can disappear, but a fifty year old cop, not so much.
  • How interesting is the Blondie-Madam dynamic?  I feel like they’re not “good versus evil” – they’re both amoral, but one is bloodthirsty.  They’re both pretty pragmatic about opposite things.  And he really does screw with her, both denying extraction (which DeWitt would never do) and going out there without permission.  Plus the attempted murder.  I’d say that he was just a cold dude in it for some money, and maybe it started out that way, but he’s really enjoying his power and not fond of the Dolls.  It’s just plausible enough that he’s actually worried about the Alpha-like signs, but I doubt it, and so does DeWitt.
  • The candlestick was cool.  The second slap was ass-kicking for the sake of ass-kicking.  Gratuitous ass-kicking.  This is the difference between a strong woman character and Girl Power (TM).  One uses violence as the character would see necessary or desirable; the other just starts whaling on people regardless of logic or inclination.  Unless this is Caroline coming through and she’s a brawler.
  • So did they take the thing out before the wipe?  How could they have talked Esther onto the table?  Is the equipment still rattling around in there?  Because, I’m no Dr. Fred, but that could probably end badly.
  • DeWitt’s creepy fixation on “purity” is, well, creepy.  It feels out of character, too, unless her concept of herself as the Dollhouse matron-in-chief is a lot more powerful and personalized than we thought.  It’s the writers going “DO YOU GET IT!?  SHE’S  LIKE THE CULT LEADER.  NO FREE WILL.  OOGA OOGA.”  Yes.  We got it.  Cults bad.  Your audience is not actually comprised of Dolls.  Maybe it’s more of the caretaking stuff – she has to conceptualize the dolls as children?  And what’s the difference between a wipe and a scrub?
  • Have the last couple of episodes been underwhelming to anyone else?  Not bad tv at all, just less fun than I’m expecting.  I suppose I’m building it up in my mind because I’m not used to watching TV shows in real time (I tend to wait until they’ve been canceled for a while and then get worked up, and of course I had an extra couple of weeks to look forward to these) but I loved ep 3 and have only liked the last two.  A little birdie told me that Man on the Street was a Joss episode, though…

Deep Thoughts

  • I thought the cult was a bunch of damn LaRouchers.
  • Why don’t they FINGERPRINT it instead of playing it?  Paul you are a fuck up because you TAMPER WITH EVIDENCE.
  • Why does she have perfect hair after every wipe?
  • Who the hell does Topher talk to on the phone from the Dollhouse?  I suppose it must be Ivy.
  • Was Esther flirting with Sister Annabelle?  I choose to believe she was.
  • Between the Dollhouse patron senator, the clueless FBI and the corrupt, clueless ATF, looks like gub’mint  is still gettin’ in a man’s way.
  • Someone please tell me the real ATF knows how to search for a trip wire.  Lie to me.
  • Really, with the shoes, enough is enough.  There is absolutely no reason for the heels here.

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Posted by pocochina on March 21, 2009

The Arizona House is right.

It’s absolutely impossible that women in Arizona know the outcomes of their reproductive decisions.

For instance, do they know that their salaries are likely to decrease when they become mothers?  You know, if they keep their jobs at all.  Or that they will be pressured to breastfeed, without regard for the impact on their jobs or quality of live, and without proof of the benefits to their children?  That giving birth could – gasp! – change their bodies permanently?  And that if part of that change is a slight uptick in body weight – well, forget about it.  Do they have ANY IDEA about the impact motherhood will have on their SEXAYNESS?

Do they know that if their child has a particular type of disability, they’ll be shamed for leaving an “unfortunate” child in someone else’s care while they pursue a career?

Do they know their chances of acquiring powerful jobs will drop, while their risk of being murdered by their partner will skyrocket if they choose to continue a pregnancy?

That if they get to the end of their pregnancies and shit goes wrong, the Supreme Court of the United States and the US Congress have decided that her health doesn’t mean shit?  That because of their meddling asses, if she does need to terminate a wanted pregnancy, her doctor will have to run the risk of performing a lethal injection inside her uterus?

Do they know just how painful it is for many birth mothers to have chosen adoption?

That while they may be entitled to child support, it’s going to be awfully difficult to get?

And this is just the tip of the iceburg on the shit these women don’t know!  See, I, in my non-pregnant all-powerful wisdom, clearly have Google skills beyond anything they could POSSIBLY FATHOM.  Silly wimminz.  Can’t be trusted to make these choices for themselves.

See, I am all for nonjudgmental, balanced, respectful maternal and parental counseling when a woman (with or without her partner) is deciding whether to continue a pregnancy.  I think it’s an important reproductive justice issue to support pregnant women, and if the private sector sucks at it, then the public sector should be able to jump in – I’m a dirty pinko hippie like that.  But, if this move were actually about giving women information – not feelings, but cold and all too hard facts measuring the legal, social, and economic impact of pregnancy and motherhood – his list would look a lot more like mine than like his.  I suspect that’s why it will never happen.  Because I don’t believe for a moment they actually think these little lecture sessions will actually decrease abortions.  I think that what this is really about is shaming women, and  in the same stroke, allowing these legislatures to ignore the very real problems of pregnancy and motherhood.  Being a mother is, I am assured, a wonderful, enriching, empowering experience for many women.  But as a sociological phenomenon, being a mother in our society totally whomps – not because motherhood is bad, but because every policy choice these fuckers make is one to make life more difficult for mothers.

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