Dear Readers, I’d like to share a small kernel of realization with you. Here it is: Sometimes, being tired is a good-enough excuse.
It’s okay to be tired! Sometimes you just can’t write a blog post for two weeks. Sometimes that’ll happen because you’ve got depression, or a cat is sitting on your keyboard, or you’re blogging from the bottom of the well. Forgive yourself.
Because in the two-ish weeks since I updated, I’ve covered a lot of ground. Stained-glass-gingerbread cookies, knitted Fairisle mittens, many ceramic Fish-With-Feet, several jars of apple-rosemary jelly and a distressing number of PCR reactions were made by these two hands. I got a haircut. I’m wrapping up my laboratory duties, winding down the tutoring, developing a book pitch, and am still paddling placidly into adulthood, while the Holiday Season continues to happen all around me, like explosions happening on a separate-but-visible plane of existence.
Neatly sidestepping the question of whether to spend Christmas in America or England, Dr Glass and I have opted to square the circle, resolve the theorem, nail our colors to the mast and nip that shit in the bud – we’re spending it in Morocco. TAKE THAT, MOTHERFUCKERS. No wibbly tantrums about Whose Family We Value More, or Where We’ll Put The Fucking Tree. No Sad Christmas Orphans for us.
Plus, this will be lovely for us both – we have such wildly diverging notions of Christmas.
Dr Glass is a child of the Picture-Postcard English Village, where he is traditionally expected to deck the little medieval stone church in little candles for Midnight Mass, and his father rings the bells. In this freakishly idyllic hamlet, carolers come to your door, there are twinkly candles in all the windows, and woodsmoke lingers over the thatched cottages; there’s an honest-to-god Boxing Day Hunt in which children ride tiny ponies wearing reindeer antlers. BOTH THE CHILDREN AND THE PONIES WEAR THE ANTLERS. It’s madness. They put bunches of holly on their picture frames, which is apparently a very necessary English thing, and make a pudding and set it on fire, and other things that people do in movies. Last year I was bewildered but charmed, and neatly prevented the vicar from setting herself on fire. But I don’t think I can do it again. I wore myself out looking for the hidden cameras. The theme song was this:
Compare and contrast with my own family’s Christmas tradition, which usually consists of cat/tree battles, power outages, unintentional fires, minor-yet-refreshing car accidents, at least one wild animal in a place where it shouldn’t be, shouting, cigarette smoke, and everyone going “oh for fuck’s sake” a lot; a cat will steal some of the Chinese food and barf it into a shoe, a creepy ex-boyfriend’s mother will appear bearing badly-timed holiday cheer, and we will pretend that we are actually doing Munion Day instead, in honor of my family’s made-up God of Bearable Disasters. My mother and sister will sneak off separately to chain smoke cigarettes (or more medicinal things) while pretending that they aren’t. At some point my father will perform his famous Cat Band, in which he will use various cats as musical instruments, including the fateful Catcordion. He may sing Christmas carols with references to Christ replaced with “Munion.” Nobody can even pretend to be Christian, not even for a day, but my mother will summon up a bracing rail against The Patriarchy upon request. The theme song will be this:
I think you’ll all agree that going to Morocco is a much better solution all around.
Friend-of-Blog Foz Meadows wrote a great piece in response to the belief that fantasy should be oriented around straight white men.
As exhaustive as this information might seem, it barely scratches the surface. But as limited an overview as these paragraphs present, they should still be sufficient to make one very simple point: that even in highly prejudicial settings supposedly based on real human societies, trying to to argue that women, POC and/or LGBTQ persons can’t so much as wield even small amounts of power in the narrative, let alone exist as autonomous individuals without straining credulity to the breaking point, is the exact polar opposite of historically accurate writing
This essay contains a butt-ton of cited sources demonstrating that reality is full of real-life Characters of Color, Strong Female Characters, and Queer Characters who made their mark on history. (Including a link to my piece on Knights of Color! Foz is sweet.) Read it here: PSA: Your Default Narrative Settings Are Not Apolitical.
So why are we so keen on fit meaning ‘fit as in goes to gym and goes rrrawr like Hulk’? Well, I’m guessing it has something to do with that old nut, sexism. As a society we’re pretty invested in the idea that maleness – traditional muscle-bound, feelings-light – maleness is superior to wishy-washy feelingsandcuddles femininity. What we’re missing is that all the variants in between have worth. Bindweed is about strength and out-competing the others by brute force. Equally successful, though, is moss.
After an eight-month hiatus, Goats on Stuff has returned. If we ever have to hit the reset button on the Internet, this Tumblr is probably the only thing we should save. We’ll warm ourselves with it on the cold nights, huddling closely against the void.
MOST HILARIOUS COMMENT ON THE BLOG:
Oh my god, it’s the lady from the Indifference of Pets post!
Thank you for including my Porn and Puppy card on your blog. My cat and dogs are, indeed, indifferent while I am having sex, but the vintage porn and puppy card inspiration came from making a gift for my good friend- her two favorite things are porn and puppies, so I put them together in a giant collage on a hand built dresser for (guess what) her roller derby gear. I thought about porn and cats “pussies and pussies”, but like the “bitches and bitches” instead. Nothing tones down pornography and makes it more general audience than adorable dogs.
COME BACK ANYTIME, LADY.
MOST WTF COMMENT ON THIS BLOG:
Brian stopped by on the Hunter-Gatherers & Fat post to leave these pearls of WTF wisdown:
I’m sure this is mostly right but it does seem to stumble into some of the same types of mistake as some of the bad science, namely the idea that there is something called a modern western ideal of beauty, that this consists of having very low body fat, and that this ideal has more than a tangential relationship to sexual attraction. In fact the idealisation of total thinness is rather specific to parts of the media and fashion industry. Real people are attracted to a variety of body shapes and all-round skinniness is a minority interest (do I need to give references?) I would guess that the most commonly presented single ideal of female beauty in recent western culture involves large (therefore, technically, fat) breasts, small waist, and small hips, although there’s plenty of variation around this theme (as the Queen video demonstrates). Media aimed at women (including the entire fashion industry) often presents skinny and androgynous female models while media aimed at men presents much curvier types (I refer you to a newsagent if you want me to back up that claim). You equate the vaunted waist-hip ratio with fat-phobia, yet at least the ratio-ists recognise that the distribution of fat on a person’s body might be key to sexual attraction rather than the overall quantity.
The paleolithic art also includes quite a variety of body shapes, e.g. one of the figures you present has a narrow waist but big hips and breasts. As far as I know, we don’t really know that the paleolithic figures were about sexual ideals or more to do with fertility and so on. Aesthetics extends well beyond sexual attraction though it might play on sexual attraction in all kinds of fascinating and non-scientifically-predictable ways.
So what? I’m not really defending the way that bad bits of science get passed down as popular wisdom, just trying to suggest that the starting point for these debates should involve a bit more careful thought about what we (modern western societies) are like before going on the attack. The problem with the evolutionary science here is the difficulty it has in taking on board (immense and path-dependent) cultural variation while retaining predictive power about modern human behaviour
Brian wins the Award for Not Actually Reading My Blog Or Understanding Its Content Before Getting Angry About My Tone. He’s basically just repeating my content, in a different voice, while criticizing me for not coming up with these Pearls of Wisdom in the first place!
My favorite part is how he’s carefully telling me – a curvy queer Western scientist lady – what the sexiest lady-body is (curvy), how ladies are portrayed in the media, how the distribution of fat makes ladies hot, how I need to think carefully about what Western societies are like, how men and women are targeted with different advertising strategies, and how I don’t understand the basis of sexual attraction. He’s also telling me that I need to take culture into account with my evolutionary science.
On a post about how people need to take culture into account when separating evolutionary psychology from evolutionary science.
From a series about how modern culture is actually responsible for many things that are mis-attributed to evolutionary biology.
On a blog about “science, feminism and the media.”
Brian, if you didn’t exist, I would have had to invent you. You are an instant modern classic; I salute you, tongue-tied.
Thank you for being so consistently lovely. Don’t worry, we’re all fine here.
A gentleman and a scholar as always, Dr. Glass courteously inquired if I required anything from Boots The Chemist tomorrow, in preparation for Friday’s journey to North Africa. I considered the question carefully, but the sum total of my Earthly needs was a single item. I wrote it down.
travel sickness tablets
It looked lonely.
time-extending fluid, I wrote helpfully.
And I realized, with a pang, that if my sense of humor is any indication, I will always be my father’s daughter.
In the drafts folder of posts for this blog, there was a post consisting of a single sentence:
Realizing that the sum total of your earthly accomplishments in the past week resulted in a mouse’s armpits turning fluorescent pink.
I went bra-shopping with Foz. Current bra size, as interpreted by the Vestal Maidens of Debenhams who spin the Oracular Wheel: 32E.
They’re making this up.
That’s it. I’m going to record my boob volume every month with a Socratic water-displacement protocol. EUREKA, MOTHERFUCKERS. We’re getting to the bottom of this.
Actually, that’s a point, we don’t seem to have a deep enough bowl.
I made a new friend! She is super lovely, and I was able to win her over by proposing an Introvert Friend-Date in the format of a Jam Date. I strongly recommend Jam/Friend-Dates if you wish to befriend cool people when you’re both introverts.
A Jam Date consists of meeting at a coffee shop, poking through the River Cottage Guide to Preserves, and picking out the necessary ingredients at the greengrocer’s. Jam is made while a movie is watched and lunch is consumed. The resulting jam is divided equally at the end of the Jam Date! This is a great way to make friends and participate in social activities when you’re the kind of person who always leaves parties awkwardly early.
Historically, I have remarkably surreal and detailed dreams. In a recent one, I was being chased through the bowels of a futuristic spacecraft by humans who had been converted into automatons. I had discovered that if they caught you, they killed you immediately, but if you confronted them directly and Used Your Words, the automatons would pause momentarily to recite a menu of options; you could select ABORT, RETRY or CANCEL. I selected RETRY, and the automatons recited a menu that suggested I “take up a more peaceful hobby, such as pigeon-breeding.” I was able to defeat them by asking them to define pigeon-breeding, which they were unable to do.
However, a far more disturbing dream was the one where I had delivered a baby, but had cleverly Opted For Having All The Drugs In The World, and was in a drugged stupor. In my absence, the dream-Dr Glass named our baby Sid-Vicious Glass. The doctors wouldn’t let him change it. I woke up very angry at him, as you do, and then asked him who “Sid Vicious” is. Apparently he’s a dead British punk singer. This clarifies nothing.
Beloved Coworker Haverford had a dream in which Dr Glass was the new James Bond, and by virtue of their association Haverford had been able to obtain tickets to the premiere. Dr Glass was notable for being the first Bond to wear eyeglasses, keeping them on during “all the fight scenes, Aston Martin chases and gun battles.”
I had something else that I was going to write here, but it has been completely knocked out of my mind because Dr Glass, rocking backward in his chair at his desk, somehow fell so elegantly that he trapped his chair under the dining room table and his arm between the table and the casing of the sash window, so that he was suspended on a floating diagonal chair, completely unable to move.
I completely take it back about the James Bond.
That dream was not legit at all, Haverford.
I think, all in all, this post has been an excellent summary of my state of mind. I hope that you all are doing as well, if not better, and I look forward to hearing from you all.
Here’s to another dazzling, dizzying year – here’s to 2013.