Monkey Media Report Archive

A North Carolina
news and arts Weblog
April/May 2005

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5.11.05 - For tonight's show, here's a link to the Alan Colmes radio clip where one of the leading lights of the extreme right, Neal Horsley, tries to explain to Colmes that everyone who grows up on the farm has historically had sex with animals, including him, and that liberal city folks "are so far removed" from "domestic life on the farm" that they just don't understand that "your first girlfriend is a mule" when you grow up on a farm in Georgia.

No, really.

[via Wonkette]

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4.20.05 - Links to topics on tonight's Monkeytime TV:

[images below to be fixed soon - 10.3.05]

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4.13.05 - My former Raleigh pal Lisa Whiteman, who has one of the most warm and engaging writing styles I've ever seen in a blog, recently posted a neat photo essay about New York City barbershops. [link]

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4.13.05 - It's Wednesday again, which means another episode of Monkeytime, the call-in show I host on Raleigh's cable access network. It's hard to top last week's appearance by a dozen Carolina Rollergirls, whose season opener last Sunday was packed - and just as thrilling (left) as last November's exhibition bout. But tonight we've got Buddy Owens, founding president of the North Carolina chapter of Americans United for Separation of Church and State and a member of AU's national advisory council. He's also one of the founders of Wake County's Interfaith Alliance, and was in large part responsible for the New Hanover County school board voting down a proposal to require schools to post the Ten Commandments as part of a display of "objects of historical significance that have formed and influenced the United States legal or governmental system":

"Children who are not of the religious majority do not need to be marginalized further," Owens told the board. "I hope New Hanover County chooses the neutral path. We must respect the religions of all our students."

...The proposal called on schools to post nine documents, including the Declaration of Independence, the Preamble to the North Carolina Constitution and the Magna Carta. The Ten Commandments was the only explicitly religious document on the list. The board subsequently voted against the proposal. After the meeting, one board member told Owens that his comments had persuaded her to vote no.

Should be fun to chat for an hour. We sure do have a lot to talk about, from the completely unacceptable decision by the Catholic governor of New Mexico to shut down state offices in honor of the pope's death to the much trickier thicket of UNC-Chapel Hill's decision to refuse official recognition to a Christian fraternity that allowed only Christian members. That decision was reversed last month by a federal judge who saw "significant constitutional concerns."

And you know what? I don't disagree. [link]

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4.12.05 - For those who didn't click the March 30 "Old Negro Space Program" link, a few stills from one of the smartest, funniest, 10-minute films you'll ever see online. It's a perfect parody of Ken Burns-style documentary/pomposity, from the pontificating pro-negro white academic to the hilarious blues song honoring America's first "blackstronauts."
Sheer don't-miss brilliance. [link]

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4.12.05 - Strange the folks whose passing inspires comment. I haven't thought about Andrea Dworkin in years, but learning about the loss of one of the world's most vehement opponents of pornography stirred up some surprisingly strong emotions. If your boss isn't looking, spend time at The Andrea Dworkin Online Library, which includes an autobiography, a page debunking things said about or attributed to her, and some classic anti-ACLU stuff. Dworkin's aggressive critique of a "free speech" that included porn - she once called the ACLU "a handmaiden of the pornographers, the Nazis, and the Ku Klux Klan" - was one of the more interesting shocks my system got during its university years. It took some thought to get past the satisfying rage in this statement:

It is time for the ACLU to stop working both sides of the street. Some groups exist in order to hurt other groups. Some groups are socially constructed for the purpose of hurting other groups. The Klan is such a group. Some people are born into groups that others want to hurt. The distinction is fundamental: so fundamental that even the ACLU will have to reckon with it.

Of course, it helped that Dworkin never seemed to provide a workable democratic solution to the problem of differing views about pictures of sex.

Still, for what it's worth, I'd argue that the movement Dworkin represented is in large part responsible for the increased outspokenness of pro-porn feminists who didn't agree with her, which led to a dramatic increase in woman-produced porn and a more open approach to sex in general. We can thank her for that, at least. Not surprisingly, pro-porn feminist Susie Bright has a must-read obit that strikes just the right tone, balancing respect for Dworkin's significant accomplishment while begging to differ on some key aspects:

Along with Kate Millet in Sexual Politics, Andrea Dworkin used her considerable intellectual powers to analyze pornography, which was something that no one had done before. No one. The men who made porn didn’t. Porn was like a low culture joke before the feminist revolution kicked its ass. It was beneath discussion. Not so anymore!

Here’s the irony... every single woman who pioneered the sexual revolution, every erotic-feminist-bad-girl-and-proud-of-it-stiletto-shitkicker, was once a fan of Andrea Dworkin. Until 1984, we all were. She was the one who got us looking at porn with a critical eye, she made you feel like you could just stomp into the adult bookstore and seize everything for inspection and a bonfire.

The funny thing that happened on the way to the X-Rated Sex Palace was that some of us came to different conclusions than Ms. Dworkin. We saw the sexism of the porn business... but we also saw some intriguing possibilities and amazing maverick spirit. We said, “What if we made something that reflected our politics and values, but was just as sexually bold?”

Andrea did not like this one little bit.

If you doubt for a second that the mainstream press is incapable of capturing this kind of nuance, just check the obit from the NY Times, which glosses over one of the most valuable - and grossly misrepresented - elements in Dworkin's published work:

She was also critical of consensual sex between women and men, which she saw as an act of everyday subjugation in which women were accomplices. "One of the differences between marriage and prostitution is that in marriage you only have to make a deal with one man," Ms. Dworkin wrote in "Letters From a War Zone" (Dutton, 1989). Marriage, she added, "is a legal license to rape."

Sounds awfully over-the-top, doesn't it? But if you examine what Dworkin really said, you find she actually had a carefully reasoned point, as demonstrated in this 1995 interview conducted by British sci-fi author Michael Moorcock:

Moorcock: After "Right-Wing Women" and "Ice and Fire" you wrote "Intercourse". Another book which helped me clarify confusions about my own sexual relationships. You argue that attitudes to conventional sexual intercourse enshrine and perpetuate sexual inequality. Several reviewers accused you of saying that all intercourse was rape. I haven't found a hint of that anywhere in the book. Is that what you are saying?

Dworkin: No, I wasn't saying that and I didn't say that, then or ever. There is a long section in Right-Wing Women on intercourse in marriage. My point was that as long as the law allows statutory exemption for a husband from rape charges, no married woman has legal protection from rape. I also argued, based on a reading of our laws, that marriage mandated intercourse--it was compulsory, part of the marriage contract. Under the circumstances, I said, it was impossible to view sexual intercourse in marriage as the free act of a free woman.

Come on, y'all, that argument is dead-on-target. Intercourse appeared in 1987; it wasn't until 1993 that marital rape became a crime in all 50 states. It takes a certain kind of idiot to jump from the above to "Dworkin says all intercourse is rape!" - but, according to Dworkin, that didn't stop the distortion:

It's important to say, too, that the pornographers, especially Playboy, have published the "all sex is rape" slander repeatedly over the years, and it's been taken up by others like Time who, when challenged, cannot cite a source in my work.

Aargh. Why is it so difficult for the press to capture this kind of complexity? Perhaps now you see where the strong feelings about Dworkin come from. But, you know, in the end, I agree completely with this comment from the brilliant lefty economist Doug Henwood at Susie Bright's site:

What an odd and amazing character she was - clearly lots of brainpower, but so twisted up about lust and aggression. I guess that's what made her so compelling to read. Somehow all the bottled up lust & aggression came out, despite the best efforts of her ideology to contain it.

Amen. A conflicted but highly intelligent critic of gender relations, whose critique ultimately falls short of truly puncturing her primary target. RIP, Andrea. [link]

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You can't stop now.

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