Monthly Archives: January 2008

the little green man.

WARNING: Image may (or may not) be not work safe (NWS).

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Bus drivers.

A friend pointed out to me that nowhere in this joke does it say that the bus driver was a man.

Talk about perceived gender roles! What a trap I fell into.

Reminds me of this (common) anecdote:

A father* and his son were both in a car accident. The father was killed, and the son was rushed to the hospital, where he needed an emergency operation to save his life. The surgeon examined the boy before the operation and said, “I can’t operate on this child. He is my son.”

How is this possible?

Of course, the answer is that the surgeon is the boy’s mother, and this story is used to illustrate the common perception that surgeons are always male. Likewise, I made an assumption that the bus driver was male, while bus drivers aren’t limited to one sex over the other.

*I’ve also heard this story from another angle – the mother is in the car with the son, and instead of a surgeon, a nurse is at the hospital and exclaims, “That’s my son!” I like this version of the story better in some respects, because it dashes the perceptions that nurses are always female (gender roles) if the nurse is the father and that the parents have to be of opposite genders (heteronormativity) if the two parents are lesbians, although the latter is far more politically charged.


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Braced (finished)


Braced. Graphite on paper, 7.5″ x 22.5″.

Here’s what I did to fix up in Photoshop CS (click for larger images):


First, I took a photo of it on my desk.


Then, I cropped it.


Desaturated and leveled a little.

After fixing up the value and the tone, I ended up with the image at the top of this entry.

Here’s a detail shot:


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bad joke about a nun.

A couple days ago, my little brother, who suffers from the telling sexually explicit jokes that aren’t even funny symptom that occurs at age 13, told me a bad joke. Warning: Potentially sacrilegious and just plain offensive.

A man gets onto a city bus. He sees a hot nun and wants to have sex with her. He goes up to her and asks, “Will you have sex with me?”

Of course, she declines, “no.”

After she gets off the bus, the bus driver says, “I know how you can have sex with her. Every Sunday night, she goes to the cemetery and prays. While she’s praying, pretend to be God and she’ll have sex with you. Put on a mask and a robe and have a lot of glitter and stuff.”

So, that Sunday, the man does what the bus driver says. Sure enough, the nun is praying at the cemetery. The man asks, “Will you have sex with me?”

The nun replies, “Sure, but only if we have anal sex.” * So they have anal sex.

After, the man rips off his mask and declares, “I’m not God! I’m actually the man from the bus!”

But then the nun rips off her mask and says, “I’m not a nun! I’m actually the bus driver!”

This joke is horrible in many ways, but especially these three:

  1. This joke features a man who attempts to deceive a woman into having sex with him. He ignores the conscious decision the woman has obviously made – to remain celibate. Instead, he assumes that every woman should be available to him for sex, including those who chose not to. A “no” should mean “no,” not “how-can-I-figure-out-how-to-make-it-a-yes.”
  2. The man has so fetishized this nun, or the act of having sex with a nun (Catholic/nun fetish) that he ignores the nun herself. This joke presents this very offensive fetish as ok to be laughed at. On another point, the man dehumanizes the “nun” to the point that he doesn’t realize it’s not the same nun, and it’s not even a woman. He sees only what he wants to see, which is a “hot nun.” This type of deception is not implausible, and was even made into a really good play. It demonstrates how much of this society is constructed around male values. From M. Butterfly:

    Song Liling: Comrade! Why in Beijing opera are woman’s roles traditionally played by men?
    Comrade Chin: I don’t know. Most probably a remnant of the reactionary and patriarchal social structure.
    Song Liling: No. It’s because only a man knows how a woman is supposed to act.

    Every “modern” culture is a patriarchy, not just the ones singled out as especially patriarchal and backwards, such as imperial China and its footbinding.

  3. I’m pretty horrified that seventh graders are telling each other these jokes. It shows that as much as society disapproves of crude jokes or lewd jokes, they proliferate and spread misogyny and ignorance.

* My little brother helpfully explained that this stipulation was because the nun wanted to keep her virginity. The association of true sex only with vaginal sex is a discussion for another day.


Filed under feminism, mundane life



Braced. Graphite on paper, 7.5″ x 22.5″.

Still unfinished, but I’m nearly done.

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Primary school kids and rhetoric.

I attended a PTA Reflections reception last night. At the end of the program, after I listened to countless little kids read their stories and poems and describe their pictures and compositions (of which I could only hear half, having a hearing loss), the PTA representative in the state legislature gave a little speech.

She was trying to convince the kids there to participate in the election process. “Does anyone here know why 2008 is special?” She started her speech. “Does anyone here know that 2008 is a presidential election year? We will vote on a new president this year!” Oh, I can’t wait, I thought, a boring speech to get kids fired up on politics.

Boy, was I wrong. Way wrong. She turned this into a HELL YES I’M PATRIOTIC, reactionary propaganda speech.

Here are some highlights (in order of appearance):

  • “You live in a country that is the most wonderful country in the world!”
  • “This country is the most wonderful in the world because we have peaceful transitions of power.”
  • “We don’t do it at the butt of a gun.” x2
  • “Every child who wishes to vote may do so.” When they’re of age, of course.
  • Peaceful transitions of power.
  • “Someday, you [little kiddies] might be called upon by people who care about you to go vote.” This one doesn’t make that much sense to me. Hopefully I’ll call upon myself to go vote, if anything.
  • “You will go the ballot box and make their vote known.” This is just picking at grammar. Yet still!
  • Peaceful transitions of power.” Do you see a pattern?

And her conclusion: Therefore, you must listen to your teacher, listen to your parents, and go vote.

Wow. First off, when did being an outstanding American citizen ever involve listening to teachers and to parents? Sure, usually the two fall in line, more or less, but this sounds like attempting to brainwash kids into being compliant. Secondly, there are plenty of other countries who hold elections voluntarily, and have peaceful transitions of power!! God forbid! Those darn Argentinians! There must have been a government suppressed riot somewhere.

And finally, I really resent people who present their political beliefs at an occasion with a variety of people with hella different backgrounds. A reception is not the place to preach – especially not in front of Asian, Hispanic, and black folks. And even more if a large fraction of those are immigrants. Yes, yes, the America = land of opportunity myth is still alive and kicking, and people love America, but some respect is needed towards other countries. Being more humble is not worse, either. Some of the adults in the room weren’t even American citizens – was she trying to alienate them? They can’t go vote!

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I like modern poetry. This one of my favorites from a great contemporary American poet. I love the conceit, aptly emphasized by the title:


Donald Hall

Pale gold of the walls, gold
of the centers of daisies, yellow roses
pressing from a clear bowl. All day
we lay on the bed, my hand
stroking the deep
gold of your thighs and your back.
We slept and woke
entering the golden room together,
lay down in it breathing
quickly, then
slowly again,
caressing and dozing, your hand sleepily
touching my hair now.

We made in those days
tiny identical rooms inside our bodies
which the men who uncover our graves
will find in a thousand years,
shining and whole.

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