Category Archives: Sexism

Hot Air

Old Hat, New Head

The very sophisticated barista at the Pencil back office (AKA Soma Coffee) sent me reeling back to my college years by playing Kate Bush this AM.


Kate Bush, Then & Now

Now, Kate Bush was viewed by the hip college intelligentsia (your humble correspondent, for one) as the cat’s miao some 34 years ago. That, my babies, is antico. Please consult your Italian-English dictionary. Natch, it’s not just emo-arty-baroque pop princesses who are still spun by the youth of this holy land these days. Had the rather sensitive-looking barista been, say, an aficionado of lunkhead rock (as remote a possibility as Michelle Bachmann attending her current husband’s inevitable gay marriage) he might have been playing, oh, Blue Öyster Cult’s Godzilla.

To fully grasp this phenomenon, one must consider whom I might have been listening to in those heady, smoke- and acid-filled afternoons spent lolling about in the University of Illinois-Chicago’s A. Montgomery Ward Student Lounge. In the year 1980, it follows, I’d have had to be grooving to the strains of Kay Kyser and His Orchestra or, IDK, something like  I Can’t Begin to Tell You, a duet by Bing Crosby and Carmen Cavallaro. Need I point out that I was doing no such grooving?

Kay Kyser’s Kollege Of Musical Knowledge

I know of countless parent-child combos who attend rock concerts together, with the younger halves of those unlikely pairings not cringing in deathly embarrassment. My brother and his sons catch Steely Dan every time that act hits the Chi. area. My friends Kim (a mom) and Harmony (her issue) recently took in the Arrowsmith show up in Indy.

I would have run away from home and sold myself into white slavery had my parents suggested we all attend a Perry Como show at the Auditorium Theater.

Who knows? Perhaps the generation gap has become a crack in the sidewalk.


Scroll through this strip. It’s called Trigger Warning: Breakfast. It’s raw. It’s heartfelt. It’s powerful.

From Trigger Warning: Breakfast

Panel From “Trigger Warning: Breakfast”

Its first line is “The morning after I was raped, I made my rapist breakfast.”

It is, therefore, puzzling.

I don’t get it. And, considering the fact that I’m more feminist-y than even half the women I know, I’m going to suppose 99.9 percent of my gender confreres don’t get it either. So we need help.

Help us understand this.

Help us understand why a woman who considers herself raped would make the perpetrator breakfast.

Help us understand why she wouldn’t plunge a steak knife into his heart.

In April, Philadelphia magazine ran a piece about campus rape that included a story told by a former Swarthmore College student who says she was raped by a man in her dorm room. Here are some details about the rape: she and the man had been lovers for several months but had recently agreed (she thought) to be just friends; he fell asleep on her bed; she changed into her pajamas and laid down next to him; he woke up and became frisky; she told him she wasn’t interested in sex; he ignored her and carried on. Here, let’s let her finish the story:

“I basically said, ‘No, I don’t want to have sex with you.’ And then he said, ‘Okay, that’s fine’ and stopped,” Sendrow told me. “And then he started again a few minutes later, taking off my panties, taking off his boxers. I just kind of laid there and didn’t do anything — I had already said no. I was just tired and wanted to go to bed. I let him finish. I pulled my panties back on and went to sleep.”

The woman considers what happened to have been a crime. A crime she did not report for a month and a half.

I understand why a woman would be loath to report a rape, especially on campus. The man whom the woman says raped her was a frat boy. The person she eventually reported the rape to was a frat brother. When she told the person about the rape, he was aghast that “such a good guy” would do such a thing.

For years, accusers have been battered in rape trials. Tens, hell, hundreds of thousands of them have been called sluts, flirts, opportunists, drunks, whores, man-haters, reckless idiots, and even the Devil in courts of law. No defense attorney calls a homeowner the Devil himself when he appears in court for the trial of someone who, allegedly, broke into his home and stole the family jewels.

Mamie Van Doren

Every Rape Victim In Every Court Of Law

So, I’m not unaware of how the legal system and society winks at rapists. For far too long, we’ve considered the only real victims of rape to be husbands whose wives were so molested or parents whose teenaged daughters had been assaulted. In other words, rape has been officially viewed as a property crime. And the property in question has never really been the vagina, the mouth, or the anus of the true victim. Nor has the true victim’s dignity, sanity, or physical health been of much concern to the courts.

Until more women are elected as legislators, this take on rape will continue to be predominant.

Now that my cred has been established, I ask loyal female Pencillistas to come forward and explain something to me. I want to know.

I want to know why the Swarthmore College woman continued sleeping in the same bed until morning with a man she says raped her the night before. I want to know why she didn’t tell him to go fuck himself when he continued to press for sex after she’d said no.

I want to know why the earlier-mentioned woman didn’t add arsenic to her former boyfriend’s eggs.

In each case, the upshot might have been a fight. So be it. I want to know why the women elected to avoid a fight at the cost of their future sanity and self-regard.

Teach me.

Hot Feline Air

…By Any Other Name…

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I love — love! — the fact that NPR anchors and reporters have to say the words Pussy Riot.

These are people, the stereotyping section of my brain has concluded, who’ve never uttered the P-word before in their lives. Whereas it’s my fave appellation for a woman’s business — a pussy is, after all, warm, snuggly, and comfortable. Rather like a de-clawed cat, no?


Now, the C-word. Uh uh. That’s bad sauce, babies. It’s a harsh, hateful word. Yet, even some feminist-y women occasionally drop it when referring to a dame they particularly detest. I strive never to use it because of its hard-edge and insulting connotation.

It’s a word I imagine frat boys bandy about while sitting around and philosophizing. If frat boys use it, I have to eliminate it from my vocabulary. I’m also thinking of refusing to use the word the in my speech, which I suspect will be a tad more problematic.

In fact, if you want to distinguish between, say, odious porn and glorious erotica, simply use my handy C-word system. If the book or video uses the C-word in its title or the term is used liberally (eek, such an unfortunately choice of a word) in its content, the work likely will not be of art at all but rather a crushing, repulsive, quasi-violent put-down of the female sex.

O'Keeffe/Jack In The Pulpit

Anyway, I’ve been wondering how media outlets like the New York Times, the Christian Science Monitor, or the Rush Limbaugh radio flatulence-fest refer to the two erstwhile jailed Russian members of the punk group.

Well, let’s find out, shall we? The Grey Lady (an antiquated nickname for the NYT which, in its historical stuffiness, largely eschewed photos) seemed fairly itchy when first called upon to name the band. In the story dated August 17, 2012, telling of the band’s conviction and sentence on charges of hooliganism (which, itself, is a fave word of mine), the paper waited until the second graf to even mention PR’s name and even then acted all peevish about it. “[M]embers of a punk band called Pussy Riot…,” the copy read, as if to plead, Hey, don’t blame us.

As the fairly long story continued, the paper seemed at pains to avoid mentioning the name again, only doing so three more times, once to huff, “But while the women became minor celebrities, Pussy Riot is far more political than musical: Its members have never commercially released a song or an album, and they do not seem to have any serious aspirations to do so.”

In case anybody doesn’t get the gist of that graf, the Grey Lady is saying, Good heavens, no proper young ladies who employ such déclassé verbiage should ever be taken seriously!

Guaranteed the editors of the NYT are, at this very moment, on their knees praying Pussy Riot will disappear from the Earth forthwith so subscribers can safely return to the reading of more refined topics like sub-Saharan genocide or teenage rape in Ohio.

Despite bannering a variation on the name of one billion people’s lord and savior in its very name, the Christian Science Monitor went full Pussy Riot within the first nine words of its article on the band’s conviction and sentence in 2012. And the funny thing is, as I type this, the CSM page is still up on another window and its auto-play ad is running a faux doc on meterologists, air force commanders, and other scientists and officials tracking Santa and his reindeers’ flight over this holy land. Hehe; I love funny juxtapositions, natch.

Now then, how about the troggiest of all Oxycontin-head troglodytes, Rush Limbaugh? A casual google search shows — get this — absolutely no mentions of Pussy Riot by the King of Blowhard Kings. Imagine that. Here was his chance to either slam Vladimir Putin and the hated Russkies for being such stone-headed tyrants or to savage a band of slutty sluts who had the temerity to desecrate the Orthodox home of Jesus H. Christ himself. Yet Rush couldn’t even bring himself to address the issue. Who knows? Perhaps he digs their music and is torn. Or maybe he feels young women should be allowed to make the occasional public mistake without being ripped to shreds by porcine conservative commentators?

As they used to say in my old neighborhood, Whaddya, stupid?

I’m betting Rush and his merry band of keyboard clackers were paralyzed by Pussy Riot’s very name. You know the scene in the movie The Big Lebowski where Maude asks the Dude what his feelings are on the word vagina?

Maude: Does the female form make you uncomfortable, Mr. Lebowski?

The Dude: Um, is that what this is a picture of?

Maude: In a sense, yes. My art has been commended as being strongly vaginal, which bothers some men. The word itself makes some men uncomfortable. Vagina.

Scene from "The Big Lebowski"


The Dude: Oh yeah?

Maude: Yes. They don’t like hearing it and find it difficult to say….

I can see ol’ Rush reading about the Pussy Riot story the first time and then dashing off to the lavatory to scrub his hands and face.

My feeling is Rush et al would be far more comfortable had the Russian performance artists named themselves Cunt Riot.

Now, that’s a name they could get behind.

Merry Christmas!

Punk Prayer

Hot Air Today


So there’s wailing and shrieking over the interwebs regarding the Barilla CEO insulting gays. As there should be.

Not only that, Guido Barilla said, essentially, that women belong in the kitchen, stirring a big pot of rigatoni.

◗ Big Mike Point No. 1: Guido Barilla’s a dope.


Guido Barilla

I don’t care how his comments hurt his company. That’s his lookout. And clearly it doesn’t bother him that many of his customers are going to give him and his pastas the Italian salute:

If (gays and lesbians) like our pasta and our message, they will eat it. If they don’t like what we say, they will eat another.

That’s Guido explaining himself to Reuters. Apparently, he has forgotten that gays and lesbians have families, friends, and supporters. A huge number of them will never buy Barilla pasta again. This kind of thing lasts a long time. For instance, it’s a safe bet many of my loyal readers to this day do not drink Coors products.

◗ Big Mike Point No. 2: Don’t buy Barilla products.

This is going to hurt me a lot more than it hurts you. I make pasta every Wednesday like a good Sicilian son. And guess what — Barilla is my brand. Well, no more. Stick your homophobia and your sexism straight up your ass, Guido.

Barilla Ziti

Ciao, Ziti

Cibo é Veleno

The Barilla dust-up brought to the fore Bloomington’s food fetishists again. To wit: a pal of mine wrote on Facebook that she won’t eat Guido’s penne rigati et alia anymore.

Well, this horrified one commenter for a reason that might surprise you:

Pasta is terrible for u! Sooooo unnaturally dense that it spikes the shit out of your insulin level. Only thing worse are bagels.

“Pasta is terrible for u!”

Do I need to type that again? Okay.

“Pasta is terrible for u!”

Dig? The commenter was aghast that my pal puts vermicelli in her body!



I’m getting the feeling that there’s a subset of people around this town who are anti-food. I mean, what in the hell do these people eat? Pasta, out. Bagels, out. Meat, I would assume, out. Dairy products, out. Name any food category and you’ll find a local gang of true believers who equate it with arsenic.

People, people, people — the human body is extremely resilient and protective of itself. And the sentient among us know not to shove entire packages of Oscar Mayer bologna into our face holes morning noon and night. That would be somewhat akin to taking a dose of arsenic. But jeez! Let a gal eat a bowl of cavatelli once in a while without stoning her to death, wouldja?

BTW: The head line for this entry is Italian for Food is Poison.

Buon appetito!

Food, Glorious Food

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