Mike Eberhart | November 4, 2004
Well, just figured I'd start a new discussion for talking about events and things that take place for the next four years.

From what I'm hearing, it sounds like a lot of you will get your wish and John Ashcroft is going to resign. So, he won't be there for this administration. I never really like Ashcroft to begin with, he's like another Alan Keyes in my view. Just a little too far to the right for my taste. I heard that that spot might be filled by Rudy Guilliani (sp). Also, it looks like Colin Powell is also going to step down as Secretary of State. One possible replacement that was talked about was John Danforth. Just wondered what everyone thought about that.

Scott Horowitz | November 4, 2004
Well, losing Ashcroft would be great. Unfortunately, working for the Bush regime has tarnished Powell's image so much he may never be able to serve publically again. I still don't know why everyone loves Guilliani. He was an average mayor, nobody really liked him until 9/11, when he did what anyone would have done in his shoes. Don't know much about Danforth, so I can't really say anything on that.

If Bush can successfully unite the country in the next 4 years, I'll be impressed. But, from what I have seen so far in his presidency, he will do nothing more than to ostracize us 'evil liberals'

Todd Brotsch | November 4, 2004
In hearing what Mr. Giuliani says in various interviews he dosen't want anything to do with government offices at the moment. Though some say him going around campaigning this season is a 'toe in the water' for a Presidential bid in 2008. I think a step toward a Cabinate position would be a step back from the Presidency for him.

If asked point blank to serve at the Presidents pleasure he may do it out of respect. But I'm not sure.

Mike Eberhart | November 4, 2004
Yeah, I heard that too about Guiliani running for President. I don't think I would really like that. I just think there are better candidates out there for 2008.

Scott, I think that by getting rid of Ashcroft would be a big step in starting to re-unite the country. The liberals and democrats hate him, so by him leaving and being replaced by someone not as far right as him is a good thing.

Danforth is a pretty good guy, I think he would be a great secretary of state.

Scott Horowitz | November 4, 2004
The other thing with Giuliani running for president, I don't think he'd get the "moral majority" support a typical republican candidate gets. He's been married 3 times, caught cheating on his wife. Stuff that hurts republicans.

Lori Lancaster | November 4, 2004
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Anna Gregoline | November 4, 2004
Rudy Guilliani is a puppet.

Kris Weberg | November 4, 2004
The big problem with Ashcroft for me isn't his politics these days; it's his inability, thus far, to successfully prosecute a single suspected terrorist. Seriously, his prosecutorial record on his part in the "War on Terror" has been dismal.

Scott Horowitz | November 4, 2004
Well, he does have a nice singing voice.

Jackie Mason | November 4, 2004
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Todd Brotsch | November 4, 2004
Where exactally is Cheney going?

I'd like to see your source on this one. You think he's going to resign the office of Vice President after just campaigning for re-election?

Seems far fetched to me.

Kris Weberg | November 4, 2004
Before the election, there were persistent rumors that Cheney would drop from the ticket for health reasons, allowing Bush to replace him with someone else.

Mike Eberhart | November 4, 2004
I don't think that Ashcroft and Powell leaving has anything to do with the way things are. Powell is leaving because he wants a break. Being SoS is probably not the most easy job in the world. As for Ashcroft, I think he's being run-off. I think they are trying to start getting the country back together and this is the first step in that.

As for Cheney, he's not going anywhere. Plus, he will probably not run for President in '08.

Kris Weberg | November 4, 2004
Uhm, I don't think anyone will run for President in '06.

Mike Eberhart | November 4, 2004
You know what I meant. I wasn't thinking clearly. I'm at work and got distracted. I'll go back and edit it.

Mike Eberhart | November 4, 2004
Fixed

Todd Brotsch | November 4, 2004
Yes that was before....This is now.

Scott Hardie | November 6, 2004
I wouldn't really characterize Powell as "running out on" Bush; quite the opposite. He made it clear four years ago that he did not want to serve the government any longer, but he would serve Bush if he was needed, and Bush asked him. He's put in his time like a loyal trooper, and now it's time for him to do his thing. I totally respect that man's choice not to run for president even if it would "look good" for the party to have a black candidate; he knows how to balance his duty to his country and his duty to his home.

Ashcroft is news to me, but then again, so is everything else lately. Did you guys know Clinton had to have bypass surgery? </sarcasm>

Not to be a dick, Scott, but why did you charge Bush with ostracizing you for your political views, after a paragraph in which you denounced three conservatives in short order? I don't think you need Bush's help. :-p

This is picking up from a different discussion, Mike, but I think it's more appropriate here. Do you really think the Army will get more aggressive under a lame-duck Bush? Bush has always struck me as a lazy man (takes one to know one; I wish I had as many vacation days as he does), so it seems to me like he'll soft-pedal the rest of the war. He already achieved his two big objectives, eliminating Saddam and establishing a democracy. I don't think he cares about the guerillas beyond their attacks on U.S. troops. I would think his only interest in remaining there, the planning of which he'll leave to his inferiors, would be to secure and maintain the peace so that the democracy holds. Perhaps that requires a more aggressive approach, but I don't think we'll see it. Who knows; time will tell. And this is going to be a hell of a long discussion in four years. :-)

Amy Austin | November 6, 2004
I was rather hoping that Mike will be right about his theory, but I kind of doubt it too, Scott. As you say, though, time will tell. And I was also thinking that Bush's staff might prefer to be referred to as his "subordinates"... ;-D

Scott Horowitz | November 7, 2004
I didn't "denounce" 3 conservatives. Ashcroft happens to be one of the most conservative people in the country. If he left the Bush team, it would be the right step in uniting the country. I like Colin Powell, always have. He's a brilliant military mind, and one of the greatest military leaders in our time. The war in Iraq hurt his reputation immensely. Sadly, it was a mistake for him to take this position in the Bush regime. As for Giuliani, I feel that he did a decent job in NY, but not as good of a job as people felt he did after 9/11.

And, at least when you say "Scott", I know to whom you are referring (working on not ending sentences in prepositions).

Todd Brotsch | November 7, 2004
I think classifying Bush's Presidency as a "regime" is a gross over exaggeration.

Kris Weberg | November 7, 2004
Isn't 'regime" a generic term referring to any specific iteration within a form of governance? A dictatorship would generally be qualified as a 'totalitarian regime" or perhaps a "military regime." And I've seen the phrase 'democratic regime" as well.

Kris Weberg | November 7, 2004
To answer my own question via dictionary.com:

regime -- n.

1. (a.) A form of government (b.) A government in power; administration

2. A prevailing social system or pattern.

3. The period during which a particular administration or system prevails.

4. A regulated system, as of diet and exercise; a regimen.

Yeah, I think we can refer to 'the Bush regime" safely.

Amy Austin | November 7, 2004
"And, at least when you say "Scott", I know to whom you are referring (working on not ending sentences in prepositions)."

While we're giving ourselves English lessons, I just thought I'd pitch in with why this is the most bogus "rule" of the language. Its inception dates back to the late 1600s by some uppity language scholar schmo who insisted that because Latin does not end sentences in prepositions, then neither should English. However, this is a ridiculous -- and faulty -- tautology. English, though Latin derived it may be, is *not* Latin, which lacks the flexibility of sentence construction that English has. That being said, it is perfectly natural in many circumstances to use prepositions to end a sentence, and the common (and correct*) use of this in speaking makes it idiomatic and, therefore, acceptable.

*Common use in spoken language alone does not, of course, make for the definition of "correct" usage -- but in this case, it is both common and correct. Seriously. And I know this, because the "rule" has always been a pet peeve of mine, and because I hate faulty logic, especially when it comes from English "scholars" as it applies to the rules of English language/usage.

Scott Horowitz | November 7, 2004
I was just saying that Amy because we were talking about Beavis and Butt-head Do America the other day at work, and I found it amusing.

Kris Weberg | November 7, 2004
As Winston Churchill once said when told he could never end a sentence with a preposition, "This is something up with which I will not put." The rule is silly, limits expression, and forces incredibly strained sentence construction that sounds artificial and counterintuitive. And it's really not a rule anyway. Of course Winston's example is poor, because in the sentence he avoids, most grammarians would class "put up with" as a so-called phrasal verb synonymous with "tolerate," rather than as a preposition.

But, you protest, it's a rule! I read it in all my old grammar books! You doth protest too much. Grammar books don't determine grammar, usage and function determine grammar in English. Unlike the French, we have no central authority for grammar. Grade school teachers are amazing people, but they usually are not serious students of the history and purpose of grammar; they're teaching a curriculum that serious grammarians would have serious problems with.

It wasn't until the 19th century that current fads for grammar and orthography really became enshrined. And while usage does splinter into proper and colloquial forms, it never preserves strained sentence constructions -- I'll call them SSCs from here on out -- for very long. A similar process of change via usage or simple annoyance can happen with words, as well. "Girl" originally meant a young person of either sex, but the need for a bit more clarity brought us "boy" and the word "girl" came to signify only those in the throes of as-yet-unblossomed womanhood. Similarly, "reek" was originally any kind of scent, but the existence of plenty of synonyms plus a need for a negative connotation made poor "reek" into what it is today. Who knew that 16th century usage was working on the problem of how to properly describe -- yes, I know,t he infinitive, wait for it -- the average bachelor's laundry pile?

But let's get back to grammar no one belives in anymore, other than well-meaning, if misguided educators. Another canard: the prohibition against splitting the infinitive, as I did just a little ways above, is usually utter nonsense. It's based on languages where the infinitive is one word anyway, and which have a different adverbial syntax as a result. English is built so that you pretty much have to insert adverbs for clarity and to avoid one of those SSCs. Is there really a natural alternate construction for a sentence like "The bore agreed to better construct his example sentences in the future."? Any other phrasing either loses meaning or looks like...well, like an anal grammar teacher put it together.

Generally, most modern grammarians -- as opposed to, say, schoolteachers or self-proclaimed "grammar police" -- agree that avoiding strained sentence constructions is the true driving factor in "proper" English, so long as you don't slip into blatantly colloquial or bizarre forms and uses. And even those have their places, and their own inbuilt "rules." It's just that no one teaches them in schools outside California. If no one else works that way, eventually the notion dies out totally and students everywhere are spared a few nasty red pen marks.

And usage can swing the other way as well, turning once-acceptable formations into junk grammar. Sometimes the Victorians and their spiritual descendants win one over the vibrtancy of langauge after all, as in the prominent case of spelling, which was a result, not of movable type, but of Samuel Johnson, Noah Webster, and a league of like-minded Enlightenment and Victorian lexicographrs who started the unpleasant trend of prescription in language study. A pair of once-respectable (or at least useful) cases that are no longer considered proper English by anyone:

The rule against double negatives -- Shakespeare and Marlowe used them all the time, and a lot of Latinate languages retain a version of them, such as the French n'est pas, which carries botht he negative "ne" in abbreviated form and the negative "pas" as well (French grammar is scrupulous to the point of redundancy in most cases.) In English, no problem. But those Victorians bizarrely applied mathematical standards to language. Language isn't quantitative, after all -- saying "very, very good" doesn't mean "exactly twice as good as very good" -- but negatives are the only case where one can't use repeated qualifiying words to express greater intensity.

ain't -- A word that will probably never enter proper English, and one that is applied as a generic "fill-in" for most "to be" + negative contractions like "isn't," "ain't" could and often does fill a neglected space, by acting as the contraction for "I am not," the only pronoun + to be + negative that doesn't have a good, useful contraction to its name. While "ain't" was never really thought of as respectable, it will probably always be with us, because "I amn't" would be impossible to enunciate clearly. (Contractions are absurd in concept, if you ask me; they seem like a lot of work to avoid one lousy syllable.)

One of the huge problems English has in relation to other languages, especially Romance languages, is its lack of "particles," which in English end up either completely dropped or uncomfortably jammed into prepositional and pronomial phrases. English also lacks tenses and cases that other languages have, and ends up cobbling together substitutes at times. Remember "put up with?" Romance lanaguages have particles that would handle the situation with fewer words and without creating an exceptional category like "phrasal verbs." And as anyone who's studied philosophy knows, English's other close relative, German avoids particles by just ramming words together, explaining the preponderance of hyphenations in many German translations, to the point that words like "Bildungsroman" aren't even translated anymore. Of course, German handles many problems by slamming words together.

English is a true mutt among languages, but it gets a special strength from that -- it allows more exceptions and can create more complex constructions than most other languages, with a relative minimum of rules. The only major costs are a lack of "logic" in some cases, and an incredible number of irregular verbs and phrase rules that we don't notice as native speakers.

But hey, it's still easier than high Latin.

Lori Lancaster | November 7, 2004
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Jackie Mason | November 7, 2004
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Nadine Russell | November 7, 2004
Since I don't live in the US, I was wary to voice my opinion on this whole thing. While the majority of Canadians do not agree with the way Bush runs his country, there's not much we can do about it except stand on the side lines and voice our concerns to each other. There are some things I do agree with him on though. The drug thing being one. Not that I want you guys to have to pay more for your drugs, but I don't want to have to pay more and I like knowing that when I go to the pharmacy to pick something up it's there. Back in early October we had plenty of flu shots. Enough for each Canadian. Now, we have a shortage. Why? Because a lot of the shots that were reserved for Canadians were given out to non-Canadians. Does that bother me? Yeah it does. Personally I didn't get one and didn't want one. However I have friends and family members that need flu shots due to illnesses. I don't want to see this happen with other drugs. I've probably opened myself up to flaming here, and have gone a little off topic. At the least it will be an interesting four years. We'll all see how it goes.

Amy Austin | November 7, 2004
This is a funny commentary, Jackie, and I think it says a lot about how much routine and "auto-pilot" thinking dictate human behavior. Going back to the similarity between sports and politics, I can only offer this possible (and possibly poor -- after all, you know your family better than I do!) explanation by way of analogy:

Your grandmother has probably never been anything but a registered Republican her entire voting life, and as a committed fan of the party, she simply would *never* root for the other team! It apparently just does not matter to her how badly the home team is doing, or how stupid their decisions with regards to player trades and team management might be... she may not be up on these decisions, or she may not even give a damn -- she is loyal to her team 'til the end! I think that this is how a startlingly high number of American voters think (especially old people) and why I don't particularly care to vote alongside them. It's like a permanent stand-off at the World Series between two teams I really don't care for.

Amy Austin | November 7, 2004
"But, you protest, it's a rule!"

"...why this is the most bogus 'rule' of the language."
"...because the 'rule' has always been a pet peeve of mine..."

Care to give us an extended lesson on the proper use of quotation marks now, Kris? ;-)

Amy Austin | November 7, 2004
And in case I didn't make it clear in my last, Jackie, I agree with you... people are increasingly afraid to call themselves "liberal" due to the way it's been painted by "non-liberals" or "conservatives"... in much the same way that females have become afraid to call themselves "feminists" after being turned into "femi-Nazis" by Rush Limbaugh and his ilk.

I, too, sometimes wish that I could go back to my academic years -- high school & college, but mostly high school -- to fill in the holes that naturally accompany a teenager's undeveloped sense of self and confidence. I think most people would welcome that chance (even if only for a day -- after all, who wants to deal with high school all over again?!!!) I had that class, too, Jackie, but I don't remember at all what the question on my test was (10 years earlier :-|)... or on any of my AP tests, for that matter. I must have really flubbed it, though, because I only got a "2" on that one (so no creds) -- and yeah, I wish I could re-do it! On the other hand, I got a "4" and college credit on the Lit... freeing me up for more classes in underwater basket-weaving at UF! (Not really, but I did take 3 semesters of SCUBA diving... LOL!)

Erik Bates | November 7, 2004
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Kris Weberg | November 7, 2004
Part of the problem is that 'liberal" somehow wound up meaning "Democrat," which makes no sense. The Democratic Party between 1948 and 1972, sure, but generally not so much after that. In any sense except the very limited US notion, there hasn't been a genuinely liberal option among major political parties in this country for decades.

But then, as I've noted before, in most other developed nations even the conservatives aren't against things like universal health care. Here that's not just considered liberal, it's considered communist. (How I don't know; one searches in vain through the writings of Marx for a notion of government services.)

Steve Dunn | November 8, 2004
Ah, the prescriptivist/descriptivist grammar debate.

I think grammar is to writing as chords and scales are to music. It's best to know the theory first before you disregard it for creative purposes. I'm a firm believer in tossing grammatical rules--even making up words--as the occasion demands. It's still helpful to know what they are. Ending sentences with prepositions is sometimes acceptable, but it's usually not the most elegant way to write. (Of course, going to absurd extremes to avoid breaking that "rule" is often worse).

The bottom line (and though I skimmed Kris' post above I assume he will agree) is to communicate effectively. Depending on your audience, adhering to prescriptive rules of grammar can make a big difference. For example, you may choose not to exercise much creative license on your resume, or your dissertation.

Amy Austin | November 8, 2004
You can exercise a surprising amount of creative license without "tossing grammatical rules" -- I wasn't suggesting literary anarchy or arbitrarily defying just any old prescribed usage as you wish (though I, too, am a lover of making up words... and games involving such, like "Balderdash"). I was presenting a legitimate reason to stop being concerned about a commonly accepted "rule" that isn't really a rule, even by scholars' standards. Specifically, I am saying that you needn't fear this particular habit in your resume or dissertation, because there is nothing "wrong"... or even inelegant about it. To wit (and but one example), Shakespeare:

"And since you know you cannot see yourself,
so well as by reflection, I, your glass,
will modestly discover to yourself,
that of yourself which you yet know not of."

Anna Gregoline | November 8, 2004
I'm a liberal feminist! Hooray!

Erik Bates | November 8, 2004
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Kris Weberg | November 8, 2004
Steve -- I agree that social standards have, to a limited extent, solidified grammar, but what's interesting is the way in which "proper English" usage differs from "proper English" in grade school. Many of the most clearly absurd or arbitrary rules have simply been ignored over the years -- think of the alleged distinction between "will" and "shall;" or the fooferah you might onbce have encountered regarding "if" versus "whether." The effect of grammar texts, dictionaries, and the like has largely been to slow the process of grammatical innovation, but they haven't stopped it.

The big problem with prescriptive usage isn't that it's "bad" or "good;" it's that, for the most part, it claims a historical weight it doesn't have and often confuses language with logic in its pursuit of some unattainable frozen "ideal" of language. It's the same impulse that brings self-described authorities to battle against useful neologisms. In the long run, one era's prescriptive grammar winds up ignored or rewritten by the scholars of the next. (For that matter, the "grammar" of music changes all the time as well, with the innovations of a Stravinsky eventually becoming "rules" of their own for everyone else.)

Now in the interests of total hypocrisy, I will admit that I personally despise one particular neologism -- "proactive." However, it's been widely accepted, and looks to join the language, albeit by robbing the word 'active" of one of its more useful connotations. The denotational difference between the two words is negligible, but the sense is intensified in "proactive," a classic example of back-formation if ever I've seen one.

Amy -- I didn't use quotes in that sentence precisely because I was poking fun at the rhetorical device of inventing a speaker (okay, a strawman), when it's in fact the rhetorician's voice the whole time.

Anna -- Me too!

Erik -- To clarify, I'm not arguing (here) that the United States in general become more "liberal" in the sense it's meant in Europe, but that a discussion of politics, particularly in this era of foreign policy clashes, might require a more carefully contextualized vocabulary.

Jackie Mason | November 8, 2004
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Amy Austin | November 8, 2004
Kris -- I was already reactive in another thread about "proactive", but my joke about the quotes was both proactive and reactive to your (understood to be) rhetorical comment... I think you missed what I was saying. I only put quotes around your phrase because it was written by you in your post, and it was what I was responding to. My comments are also in quotes as selections from above where I put the word "rule" in single quotes to emphasize that I did not regard it as such. That was the reactive part of the comment; the proactive part was in anticipation of you "getting it" but going into another long lesson on something else... ;-)

Steve Dunn | November 8, 2004
I'm a conservative feminist.

Anna Gregoline | November 8, 2004
Way to go, Steve!

Of course, I would hope that everyone on this board would be a feminist.

Amy Austin | November 8, 2004
So your wife better clean that house when she gets home from work, huh, Steve? ;DDDDD

Steve Dunn | November 9, 2004
No, Amy, as part and parcel of my modern marriage, it is not assumed that my wife does all the cleaning. (I know you were kidding, but negotiating traditional gender roles is, I think, a tricky feature of most marriages between feminist couples today). We're fortunate enough to be able to outsource the cleaning, but we roughly divided the chores in the past.

Somehow, however, I ALWAYS have to mow the lawn. I mean, every single time. I also usually drive when we go out together, though that's not something we ever talked or (I think) even thought about. That one just happened.

My brand of feminism allows that women need not take on all the domestic responsibilities, but they'd better bring home some bacon!!

Scott Horowitz | November 9, 2004
(link)

Jackie Mason | November 9, 2004
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Todd Brotsch | November 10, 2004
Actually, it's SOP for a two term presidency to ask for resignation letters from all cabinate members, that way The President can decide whom he would like to stay on and whom he wishes to let go. It is not uncommon at all for the begining of the second term to see large shake ups like this. Also, it has been noted that this cabinate is one of the most stable cabinates in recent history.

Scott Hardie | November 11, 2004
The term "liberal" is only going to become a bad word if we, the liberals, let it happen. To paraphrase one of our most respected liberal feminists, no one can embarrass us out of our word without our permission.

The funny thing to me about the demonizing of the word "feminism" is that it all but requires a lack of understanding about the term, since just about anybody who knows what it means (link) would support it, even Jackie's grandma. :-)

John E Gunter | November 11, 2004
Interesting how extremists manage to make labels into bad words! Ever notice that a word gets a bad connotation due to a minority of individuals who take their beliefs to the extreme?

Do I need to explain further or would a few words suffice?

Muslim
Christian
Jew
Conservative
Liberal
Fan

What we need to do is understand what the word actually means and then use it for it’s proper meaning, not in conjunction with the extremists.

John

Anna Gregoline | November 11, 2004
I agree, Scott - it's totally bizarre to me how so many people don't want to identify themselves as "feminists" but yet almost everyone I know is one.

Erik Bates | November 11, 2004
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Scott Horowitz | November 11, 2004
I am a self-proclaimed sexist!

Jackie Mason | November 15, 2004
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Anna Gregoline | November 15, 2004
Erik - I don't want to be portrayed as a man-hating, no-shaving, militant lesbian bull-dyke. Thanks for perpetuating that stereotype.

That's not what a feminist is. I am a feminist. I believe that women should be treated as equal to men. That's it.

Part of my commitment to feminism means that I will fight for women's rights and speak up when I see mysogynist comments. But that's my personal commitment. It's not necessary to have that kind of idea to be a feminist.

Lori Lancaster | November 15, 2004
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Erik Bates | November 15, 2004
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Anna Gregoline | November 15, 2004
But the only way to fight the stereotype is to live as example. If you're afraid to buck the stereotype by identifying with the word and living different than the stereotype, it will always exist. That's my only point - we must prove to people who assume things that stereotypes aren't always true - by being a case in point.

Erik Bates | November 15, 2004
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Anna Gregoline | November 15, 2004
I did see your point.

And I was stating why people can't be afraid to be labeled because it's only by being labeled and bucking the stereotype that the stereotype disappears.

We can't be afraid!

(I'm talking about the word feminism. I don't think your example works because A. One is a racial slur over skin color, an unchangeable attribute and the other is an idea that one can choose to subscribe to. B. One is automatically hateful and the other isn't.)

John E Gunter | November 15, 2004
Kind of like saying someone is a conservative takes on the thought that they are a right-wing ultra-tight religious fanatic.

John

Amy Austin | November 15, 2004
Yeah -- you can't be a closet nigger, but you can be a closet feminist... that much is true! ;>

Thanks for trying to illustrate why some women don't want that label, though, Erik. I, too, am a feminist, but I think that subtlety works better than shouting it from the rooftops -- you only end up blue in the face that way.

And sometimes, you can learn more about "the enemy" when you are willing to listen more often than you cry "foul". Sometimes, it just isn't worth the effort to "speak up"... and I hate to drag another stereotype into this, but the adage "you can't teach an old dog new tricks" applies to people, not dogs -- and it's true... old people are *very* set in their ways, and they find it disrespectful when a "youngster" argues with them. So why argue? Soon enough, they won't be around anyway, and the best you can hope to do is counter their influences on your own generation.

If that sounds cold, well let me tell you a little story... a story about my first most BLATANT experience with sexism ever. When I was in college, I had an assortment of very part-time jobs that came and went. One time, while looking for one that would be satisfactory, I found an ad for something that I thought was "perfect" -- someone was needed for hand-lettering personalized items 10-15 hours a week. I called for an interview time, and when I arrived, I found an extremely crusty & ill-mannered old salt who ran his own business of selling hats, mugs and other unit-identifying crap to all sorts of military & civilian police groups everywhere. He needed someone with a neat hand to put liquid gold-leaf names on mugs that would be fired and sent out, and I was an ex-architecture student with nice lettering skills.

So, he sat me down with a mug, on which I demonstrated my ability rather well... one would think that would be all that was required to secure the job, right? At least... according to the ad! Not much else, beyond a *tolerable* personality (and really, even that? for 10-15 hours a week?) Should be easy enough for a 20-year-old "girl" like me to get, right??? Especially if my lettering was the best he'd seen (and he said it was)... right?

Well, let me tell you what other CRAP came spewing out of this old man's mouth. First of all, he swore like the Navy vet that he was... and not that swearing in and of itself bothers me (obviously) -- however, the presumption to do so without knowing that does, and that's not a "girl" thing, either... just a common good manners thing, by the way I was raised! So, I didn't flinch at his use of "fuck", "fucking", "fucked" every other word that came out, but I *was* secretly appalled by his bad manners. And then, the really hard to swallow shit came out...

He didn't really want to hire "a girl", he said. He needed someone who could help him out in other ways, if necessary. He was an old man, after all, and if he needed a "handy man type" to help him out and "get up on the roof with a ladder and all" (I don't know -- roof repairs? TV antenna? he didn't specify), then he couldn't very well hire "a girl", now could he? (His current help, a student on his way to graduating, was "a boy" BTW.) I told him that I was very handy (I am the oldest of my siblings, a former tomboy/tree climber, and the son my dad never had... up until the age of 15) and could handle most anything he wanted to throw my way (even though his ad said nothing about any of that -- and most certainly, if he had stated in that ad that only males need apply, he would have been an easy target for legal action) He shook his head, and what he continued with was even *worse* than that... (but how, you ask?)

He said that wouldn't be very easy to do if I were in skirts, pantyhose, & heels, which he would expect that I wear to his place of work if I were hired... and... (I think at this point I grew cold & faint, and everything sort of became a slow-mo blur & haze like you see in the movies... very surreal) I couldn't believe what I was hearing, and the thought finally sunk into my brain that I was having a 1950s flashback to what it was like to be a woman!!! Never mind that I was there in sneakers or Birkenstocks, one, and overalls & ballcap and perfectly capable of swinging a hammer... this guy just saw a regular "dame" or "broad" who didn't fit his bill!!! I didn't know what to say at that point, except to point out that I had extremely fine lettering as he had already seen and said... but he was willing to sacrifice that for a "more qualified" male candidate... and he did.

What could I have possibly done or said to this "man" to better plead my case or correct his insanely outdated male attitude? Absolutely nothing. He was a graduate of the all-male-at-sea Navy (with "short guy syndrome/complex", no less!), and it was all too clear what he thought of women and their "places" in life. To try and fight that would have been far too exhausting and so not worth it. And all I could have hoped for, at best, would have been some kind of punitive measures or renumeration to myself through legal action -- you can't change/undo this kind of mentality... it's *years* in the making!!! Even his current "assistant" knew all this about him, and I could see by the way he looked at me with sad/guilty face like he knew I didn't stand a chance... but if he didn't take the job, some other guy would have -- and we all needed it, so who can blame him really? Small comfort, but I'm sure that this guy wouldn't do that to a woman if he were the one in power... and I can really dream big and hope that one day later in life he will do something to compensate for this advantage he was unfairly given. But nothing about proclaiming myself "a feminist" would have changed anything that mattered, except perhaps to aggravate the situation.

Another small consolation -- and postnote to the story... I wound up working at a local convenience store, much closer to my dorm (I could walk across the major street and back a block). Apparently, Mr. Sexist was a regular lottery player. One night, he came in right after draw time to get his winning numbers. My sizably beefy & intimidating male co-worker, who didn't usually work this shift (he was a good pick for the alone-at-night guy, but was filling in during the shift beforehand, which I regularly worked) couldn't remember how to get them from the computer. I didn't know how at all -- I was newer and usually had another guy on my shift who did know. So Pat lied to the guy and told him that they were not available yet. Well, Crusty knew better, and you should have seen the string of profanity that came out of this guy! Well, Pat wasn't about to stand for that -- he gave right back, and the pig left the store grumbling and screaming that he would never do business there again (a lie -- he did)... but not without first recognizing me and asking for my help in dealing with my "unreasonable" co-worker. I shook my head and gave him my best "dumb broad" look and held my stomach laughing as Pat screamed "Fuck you, asshole!" after his exit. Then I gave Pat another good laugh by telling him the story that I just told you.

This is my brand of feminism. Some battles just can't be won. You're much better off making allies where possible, even if your ideals don't overlap all the way -- because then at least then you're united against the enemies that can't be beat.

And it's just too bad that Old Crusty couldn't see me, a mere woman, serving on two aircraft carriers at sea in "his" Navy... but that's okay, because there are plenty more like him out there. One by one, they'll fall off eventually.

Scott Horowitz | November 15, 2004
Damn, Amy.... you just wrote the Great American Novel. I think this one post is longer than all of your other posts put together.

Amy Austin | November 15, 2004
Hahaha... but did you enjoy reading it?

Jackie Mason | November 15, 2004
[hidden by request]

Anna Gregoline | November 15, 2004
Amy, you're absolutely right that some battles can't be won and some people's minds can't be changed. Those are not people that I would try to convince otherwise.

I'm more concerned about the small areas of branding and small signs of attitude that are displayed more casually, such as the stereotype of feminists having to be militant liberals who have multiple abortions while playing sex games with their lesbian buddies and hating on every man that comes along.

I get upset that on average in Illinois, women make 71 cents to a man's $1 for the same job.

I get upset that abortions (and sometimes birth control), both legal things in this country, are denied and squirreled away from women on a daily basis.

I get upset when I see almost the entire show schedule of Fox Television, as it seems to prove to me that many people are comfortable with old gender roles and that women haven't really gotten that far.

I get upset that if I am raped, I have to worry about the fact that no one might believe me. I am upset that I have to even worry about being raped.

I get upset over the problem of trying to buy certain things - like a car, without a man present, because of the sexism I am likely to encounter.

These are just some things I get angry about. It's all the small attitudes and little discriminations that get me down, not the people who out and out hate. There will always be those people, and there's little to do about them, except hope that cultural attitudes will soon enlighten them or push them into a dark corner. But it's the small things I speak up about, in the hopes of making a small change, and letting people know that THIS feminist is proud to be one.

(Believe me too when I say that it seems I am much more militant on here than in real life - simply because we talk about issues like this on here. In real life, opportunities to talk about it are fewer.)

Amy Austin | November 15, 2004
True, true.

Jackie Mason | November 16, 2004
[hidden by request]

Amy Austin | November 16, 2004
An expose! TV news would be even better! That's completely brilliant, Jackie! Too bad I didn't have that idea over ten years ago... Ha -- that would be pretty funny, indeed!

Scott Horowitz | November 17, 2004
(sigh) And so it begins

(link)

Jackie Mason | November 17, 2004
[hidden by request]

Steve West | November 17, 2004
Why stop there? Even if he is convicted and jailed, I don't see why DeLay can't run the House from the Big House.

Kris Weberg | November 17, 2004
The best part of all this is that it's a rule the GOP House members created back in 1993.

Scott Horowitz | November 30, 2004
Here's some more good news.

(link)

I fucking hate this guy.

Kris Weberg | December 1, 2004
Yeah, but remember, when Ashcroft resigned, we got Albert Gonzalez, former chief counsel for Enron and author of the infamous torture memos that called the Geneva Convention 'quaint" and claimed, in essence, that torture is what the President says it is, and nothing else.

And when Colin Powell retired, we got Condoleeza Rice, the NSA advisor who didn't believe that a briefing entitled "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US" making note of preparations for hijackings in the future was either mportant or a warning.

No matter how much you hate the old Cabinet, so far the new one looks even worse.

Anthony Lewis | December 1, 2004
This administration rewards incompetence, and scorns people who seem to want to do a good job. Although I believe Condoleeza got the job because she's the real Mrs. Bush. I don't know who that white lady was next to Bush throughout the campaign, but Condi is the real Mrs. Bush. She's his Sweet Brown Sugar.

Jackie Mason | December 1, 2004
[hidden by request]


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