“Ohh my goodness….  When u get a chance to dive into some cute lil argentinian pussy…  DO IT!   I only knew jenaveve for like 8 minutes before I started in, and digging her out!!!   I fanangled my way over to her table in the mall, and from there on, the only thing on my mind, was where on that pretty face to nut on!” —

Feminist organizations such as Our Bodies, Ourselves and Ms. Magazine are now funding the creation of such pornography. While they are only indirectly funneling cash into the hands of companies like Bang Bros., it’s still a shameful situation. Ironically, it was feminist shame that helped engineer this fiasco in the first place.

In the summer of 2006, a prominent feminist website was sold to an unknown party that still remains anonymous. The website was First created and owned by Barry Deutsch of Portland, Oregon, the site was created to showcase his work as a cartoonist. It later became a blog that he co-wrote with several female volunteers.

The new owner of the Amptoons required Deutsch to keep things as they were. According to Deutsch, his only personal obligation was to remain on as a blogger for a period of one year, working to maintain the level of internet traffic that the site was accustomed to receiving. After that he would be free to abandon any association with Amptoons or its new owner. On August 5th of 2007 Deutsch wrote that he’d no longer be writing or moderating comments at the Amptoon’s blog in order to revitalize his career as a cartoonist; most of his female staff stayed on.

The anonymous owner’s only other addition to the site was a number of hyperlinks to an innocuous sounding “review software.” These surreptitious links are designed to redirect visiting search engines, such as Google, to a “portal” page on Amptoons. There, yet another series of links invites users to connect to dozens of pornographic websites.

The goal of the person or group buying Amptoons was to capitalize on its good name—and keep that good name—in order to profit from its link popularity. That is, how many other pages on the internet link to it and continue to link to it on a daily basis. Those incoming links serve as positive votes of a sort, lending it more credibility with search engines than sites that receive less links from outside sources. Rather than just changing the content over to pornography, it was more cost efficient to put feminists in charge of freely maintaining the site’s credibility and future linking opportunities.

By maintaining traffic to Amptoons, the buyer would have the ability to outcompete others in the porn-shilling business. There’s a popular myth that pornographers don’t have to compete with each other, at least not to the extent of other industries (Coke vs. Pepsi), as male hunger for their product is unlimited and can be safely distributed into various niches. While porn websites often cooperated to form “link farms” in the past, the invention of blogs where people rapidly link to one another has seriously undercut their earlier advantage with search engines.

Furthermore, as porn users seldom have a reason to go out of their way to publicly promote the porn sites they frequent, most pornographic sites do fairly poorly when it comes to generating link popularity from third-parties. As such, being able to simply buy a slice of the feminist blogging community and its search engine credibility from one man must have seemed like it was worth a cool five-figure sum (likely a minimum of $30K, perhaps much more).

The buyer was banking on Amptoons’ continued popularity. Even if the sale proved to be controversial, a link is a link and there’s no bad publicity when it comes to search engines. The more attention that Amptoons receives, even from critics, the more likely it is that search engines will refer their users to its sub-domains, portal pages like and Thus anyone using their own websites to link to Amptoons would be adding to the link popularity of any of the pornographic websites it advertised. And yes, Our Bodies, Ourselves and Ms. Magazine are guilty of that—although this story is even more complex than even that.

While Barry Deutsch made a brief note of the sale on his blog, he initially forbid visitors to comment on it. (Comments were enabled months later, after a critical mass of feminists became vocal about the website’s new connection to pornography.) His choice to deny comments on the sale notice had the effect—likely intended—of allowing the news sink quietly off of the front page.

Only the most frequent readers of the blog would have had time to view the topic before it was buried under other posts. Even then, such “heavy users” were also likely to miss the news of the sale as they frequently navigate through the blog by using its comments section, focusing on the subjects that allow for comments and the raucous arguments that ensue. Indeed, many critics of Amptoons complain of its longstanding tradition of encouraging anti-feminists to debate with feminists at the blog. As a male host can more safely tolerate misogyny than his female counterparts, as the attacks aren’t personal in the same way, this aspect of male privilege was an advantage that enabled Deutsch and his Amptoons to outcompete other feminist websites when it came to generating link popularity.

Critics of the sale were horrified that a feminist website was connected to pornography, especially of the Bang Bros. style where exploitation is celebrated at every turn. Other complaints focused on the fact that the entirety of the money went to Deutsch when it was the female bloggers there who did the bulk of the writing. It was they who gave the site a feminist legitimacy that he—or any man—couldn’t have achieved on his own. (Most, but not all, of the women stayed on after the sale.) Even people who merely commented on the blog in its margins added to its sale value. Not only did they add repeated “hits” throughout the day as they came back to see if anyone had responded to their messages, the often redundant usage of keywords helped in making the blog a star with search engines. (Essays and articles have to worry about word repetition marring the elegance of their prose; internet bickering has no such concerns and key terms have to be constantly reintroduced for clarity.)

In many ways it was the online feminist community as a whole that decided that Amptoons was the place to speak one’s mind. The female cast of volunteers all had their own blogs, after all, but participating at Amptoons gave them the ability to speak to a larger audience and promote their own brands. This feedback loop elevated the site to the point where it was evidently the first and only feminist blog that its buyer sought to acquire. Many feminists believed that the sale was a violation of that community.

Not everyone objected to the sale, of course. Not everyone has a problem with the sexism of porn—or its racism for that matter. A few of the libertine men who stalk about Amptoons found themselves absolutely tickled by news of the sale, knowing that their hated radical feminists, in particular, were in a row about it. Others explained away the sale in more practical terms. “We all make deals with the patriarchy” and other nouveau “glass houses” appeals were made on behalf of Barry Deutsch. A significant number suddenly found themselves very much concerned with the absolute right to property (the site belonged to Deutsch and was his alone to sell), throwing themselves on the altar of capitalism. It’s astonishing how skeptical Progressives tend to be about capitalism until the idea of sex is introduced: then, they’re all about the joys of the free market.

The most fashionable apologetic was grounded in technology. The argument stated that the deal would not result in the addition of any new porn to the internet as the scheme would only result in “one porn site stealing customers away from other porn sites.” They argued that the sale of Amptoons to what they called a Search Engine Optimizer (SEO) wouldn’t have any net impact on porn in general and would only work to redistribute funds within it. As such, even if one is politically against pornography, the involvement of Amptoons in the industry must be regarded as entirely neutral.

This defense falls flat for a variety of reasons. Some women countered that teens looking for factual information about sexuality could be redirected to Bang Bros. due to the leveraging of Amptoon’s feminist credibility with search engines. That is true enough. There is a far more basic flaw, however: Amptoons was never sold to an SEO.

A Search Engine Optimizer is generally a consultant or company that helps clients to better market their products. This is done through a variety of fair and legal means—and many unscrupulous ones as well. In brief, for an agreed upon fee, an SEO works to push their client’s website to the top of selected key words that potential customers might use when querying search engines. In other cases, it tries to improve general traffic or even inspire accidental visitations through trickery.

People employing the SEO theory to defend Barry Deutsch were under the mistaken belief that Bang Bros., or a similar company, bought Amptoons outright (perhaps under the advice of an SEO consultant, one would have to imagine for the theory to live up to its name) to use for its own marketing purposes. However, there isn’t a shred of evidence to back such an assertion.

I would argue that something quite different was going on. Each link at Amptoons contains a referral code that is used to track people who navigate through it. Every time someone clicks “through” one and later subscribes to the pornographic sites, the referrer, an unrelated third-party, receives a substantial portion of the subscription fee as their cut. That person needn’t have any further involvement with the porn websites or the content that they create. Bang Bros. might have received an eponymous subdomain at Amptoons, something that presumably led the SEO theorists to believe that they were the ones behind the purchase, but the portal at the blog refers visitors to a variety of unrelated websites. Bang Bros. was merely the most popular—and potentially profitable—company to encourage male referrals to visit. As such, it received top billing.

While the distinction between an SEO and a referral-partner might not be meaningful to many people, there is a clear difference that undermines the “no net-benefit to porn” claim. More important than that difference, however, is how the simple acronym SEO supplied masculine power to those who invoked it in the argument over Amptoons and pornography. As I explained above, those believing they had insider knowledge of technical jargon had nothing of the sort: instead, the constant refrain of “SEO this” and “SEO that” was used as a phallus to silence the voices of women who objected to the sale.

For his part, Barry Deutsch could safely play a luddite, even to the point of pretending to be less technologically savvy than he is. He claims to not know certain basic things that he must have researched during the transfer of Amptoons to its buyer. Likewise, the male blogger that Deutsch ultimately chose to respond to (in lieu of directly addressing female critics), Hugo Schwyzer, was equally keen on admitting he had very limited knowledge of such matters.

Women, on the other hand, were terrified of being seen as ignorant. After the three letters of SEO were first introduced to the argument, defenders of both Deutsch and pornography (not necessarily one and the same) were thrilled to have them at their disposal. It was a marker of difference in the classic feminist sense: women who employed it did so to differentiate themselves from those who didn’t. Those who used it were entitled to be seen as more rational, reasonable, and powerful than those who didn’t: in short, the acronym made them more “male.”

Those on the opposing side of the argument were unable to use that same jargon without at least conceding that Amptoons was, in fact, bought by an SEO. A feminist objecting to the sale or pornography in general had to admit that she had less knowledge of the situation than her feminist peers. She could adopt “SEO” for use in her own statements about the sale—and thus allow others the power to entirely frame the debate and what direction it might go—or she could avoid its use entirely.

Women are seen as deficient when it comes to science and technology without proof to the contrary. Lacking access to that jargon and its transformative power, a feminist woman would appear as someone arguing out of emotion, rather than the concrete “facts” thought to be held by those wielding “SEO” as if it were a weapon—a penis.

Feminists on both sides of the discussion had severe anxiety about their competence with technology. It was obvious and palpable. And it was also no accident that men supplied a solution to that problem for only those women who would defend male interests, even if that solution proved to be phony. Indeed, the credentials of the men who first supplied the idea were never tested: their simple claim that an SEO was involved was taken at face value and without question. The masculinity of both the men and the jargon was enough to make it true.

Conversely, the two most popular male feminist-bloggers on the internet were able to brag about being computer illiterate. Rather than undercutting their male privilege, being assumed competent in such matters by default, such a pose reveled in it by denying the anxiety that women were experiencing in the debate. Feminist women had to learn the jargon or shut up. Technophobic grandstanding was not a choice available to them. For Barry Deutsch and Hugo Schwyzer, their professed ignorance served to separate them from men in general, insulating them from class responsibility. In effect, the pose gave them access to a new gender identity that afforded them both male power and the ability to be trusted as “one of the girls” when appealing to feminist solidarity.

It is the very same anxiety on the part of women that directly links Our Bodies, Ourselves and Ms. Magazine to Amptoons and its pornography.

Ms. Magazine once hosted a highly influential forum on the internet. The conversations that took place and the myriad relationships that arose had far reaching effects. Not only did famous authors, some feminist and some not, peek in and make an appearance from time to time, some of its more dramatic moments were discussed on FOX News. That might not seem all that impressive now with the mainstream media flocking to Yearly Kos, but this was years before such a thing had become commonplace.

Although it was often a tinderbox and the limelight was often not necessarily the sort Ms. Magazine was hoping to attract, in retrospect, it was a tremendous accomplishment. It set the stage for some of the most popular feminist blogs, Amptoons and Echidne of the Snakes. Even my own journal, Adonis Mirror, has Ms. to directly thank for its creation. Others from the forums are serving as editors at Rain and Thunder and Off Our Backs. There are a number of activist groups—some open, some clandestine—that were formed from the ashes of the “Ms. Boards.” Amongst our number is even a candidate for the President of the United States.

Overseeing such a community was undoubtedly a daunting responsibility. It was likely a thankless one at the time: the Ms. Boards were unceremoniously closed without notice in mid 2004. An up-swell was occurring elsewhere on the internet, however, as forums were being displaced by the more masculine blog format. Blogs, with their strict hierarchy governing social interaction, even had a name that was culled out of the most ridiculous depths of male jargon. (Are we really supposed to believe that someone once found themselves too winded to say “web log” and the truncated form somehow stuck?)

Although a “blog” might just be a macho rebranding of what was once demurely called a “home page,” those lacking one in this new environment were told that they were no longer relevant in public discourse. To be without one is to be impotent. Ms. hired their first professional blogger, Christine Cupaiuolo, scarcely a month or two after they had shut down their forums. She was to pen their Ms Musings.

Ms. Magazine might have bought itself a cock—in the form of a blog—to parade before their male peers at The Nation and other Leftist publications, but Ms. Musings was an abject failure. While they retained Cupaiuolo for nearly three years to write blurbs about newspaper headlines, it never generated the sort of acclaim or prestige that the Feminist Majority Federation (FMF) seemed to hope for: the sort they saw routinely afforded to men and their blogs.

Not only did Ms. abandon Ms. Musings, but two other blogs as well. Their second attempt was a short lived effort by radio comic Carol Ann Leif, while the third was an intermittent series by Eleanor Smeal herself.

Their rush to the blog bandwagon was informed by the same anxiety that manifested itself in the debate over the sale of Amptoons. Women were terrified of being left off of the cutting edge and were forced, by male sexism, to overcompensate. The FMF’s overcompensation turned out to be a tremendous waste of resources. This is something they were too embarrassed to share with the Boston Women’s Health Book Collective (Our Bodies, Ourselves), who have recently hired Christine Cupaiuolo to produce a similar project, a daily “Our Bodies, Our Blog.” Despite her best efforts—and her talents are ultimately immaterial to its future—it seems destined to the same fate as Ms. Musings.

When Cupaiuolo started at Ms. Musings is was clearly a challenging prospect. Although she had the power of the Ms. name behind her, it was still difficult to integrate with the online feminist community as a whole. It surely didn’t help that a small but vocal number of feminists were still upset over the dismissal of the Ms. Boards: heavily linking to certain members of that community such as Echidne of the Snakes and Amptoons worked to mitigate that to some extent. The latter even enjoys two prominent links on Ms. Musings, the first under a general feminist heading, and a second one privileged under “Men we Love.” Cupaiuolo is likewise responsible for a link to Amptoons at Our Bodies, Our Blog.

It is not my intention to blame Christine Cupaiuolo or the women at the FMF or the Boston Women’s Health Book Collective for the sale of Amptoons to pornographers. That is solely the fault of Barry Deutsch. Instead, I am arguing (and why I saw fit to title this essay the way I did), that far too many feminists have been caught up in a system of values that made that sale possible—and defensible—in the first place.

Many might believe that I’m writing out of jealousy or spite; or that my intentions aren’t entirely (or even partially) noble or feminist. In some instances they might be justified in saying so. Still, if we are to believe that the personal is political, there has to be meaning in ignoble thoughts. Such ugliness is at the root of this discussion and it certainly isn’t mine alone.

By ridding itself of the Ms. Boards, the FMF seems to believe that it put that sort of ugliness behind them: they could buy their way back into the online feminist community (much as the buyer of Amptoons did), only they’d no longer have to worry about the pettiness (or the glory) of human interaction. Ms. Musings would be a prize to keep safely on their mantle, a way to compare themselves to the big boys of the publishing world. Whether or not it currently contains links to pornography is not a thought that members of the editorial board even have to consider—or could even possibly begin to consider. The pedestrian infighting, the tangled relationships, and even the “lil argentinian pussy” being pimped at Amptoons: all of that is safely beneath them.

Fear has driven feminist organizations to corporate isolationism. Blogs might be worth buying into for the sake of masculine credibility. But these purchases have been insincere, with no effort to treat the feminist online community as equal partners. When the fact that one of the most popular and celebrated feminist blogs is owned by someone making money off of the filming of international sex tourism (and even George W. Bush has the sense to be against that) is reduced to a “blogosphere” squabble that is too unseemly or divisive to take notice of, rather than a call for action, one has to question why the Professional Feminists saw fit to buy into this realm in the first place.

I believe the answer to that question lies behind the same anxiety that caused feminists to parrot “SEO” in that same debate over Amptoons. The so-called Digital Divide isn’t just a problem for little girls: it’s equally an issue for adult women who are actually quite comfortable with technology until men start inventing reasons for women to doubt themselves. The profound and revolutionary nature attributed to blogs is merely the most recent invention. And it worked. The FMF might have been far ahead of the curve when it came to leveraging online community and yet it was more than willing to abandon that progress, fearful that they were straggling behind.

I certainly have my own anxiety. In speaking up against the sale of Amptoons to pornographers I have been accused several times of acting under my own jealous impulses. These critics offered the opinion that Barry Deutsch and I were merely competing for the attention and respect of women—and that neither one of us was any better than the other in that regard. There is some truth to that. There is some falsehood, too. After all, if one is just as guilty no matter what, you’d have to be a complete idiot to be the guy not making money off of porn.

I think I’m happy to be that idiot. Maybe feminism is the best form of revenge by a failed patriarch.

I encourage other males reading this to be idiots, too.

There are plenty of smart men around. Men like Richard Jeffery Newman, a poet and professor at Nassau Community College. His academic stature has made him a natural to write as a guest blogger at Amptoons. It’s a smart opportunity. He has moved women to tears there with an essay on sexuality entitled “My Daughter’s Vagina.”

It would be stupid to give all of that up just because the venue is being paid for by the body of a girl named Jenaveve.

“Ohh my goodness….  When u get a chance to dive into some cute lil argentinian pussy…  DO IT!   I only knew jenaveve for like 8 minutes before I started in, and digging her out!!!   I fanangled my way over to her table in the mall, and from there on, the only thing on my mind, was where on that pretty face to nut on!” —

8thStreetLatinas (“See hot young & brown latinas that will do absolutely anything to get their citizenship”) has a review of 86 points and “two thumbs up” at


White critics are afraid of Forest Whitaker.

Roger Ebert once mused in his take on Whitaker’s Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai at the absurdity of many of his peers reviewing the movie with absolute seriousness. Rather than admitting—and enjoying—the film’s silliness, they were happy to check off a list of hard facts about the movie (disheveled black man, hit man for the mob, pigeons, samurai code of honor, curious dialogue with people he meets in the park) and then move on to grading his “performance” as if they were watching a production of Othello.

Or maybe, Macbeth: I do have Whitaker’s The Last King of Scotland on my mind. Indeed, it was the news of his “performance” that drove me, compelled me, to watch the film. That news was almost inescapable and capped off with an Oscar. “See The Last King of Scotland for Whitaker!” No one told me to see it because it was a good movie—and I now think that’s no accident.

Whitaker does give a “good performance.” He studied well for the part and was convincing at all times. On the other hand, it was classic Whitaker. If one can avoid the myopic focus on “my, I do believe he is a black man” that elevates his craft to “performance,” one can easily imagine he and William Shatner studying at the same acting school. I say that with affection. Whitaker is more complex with his pauses (put to good effect in his work on The Shield), shifting tones for a powerful contrapposto. Each new beginning makes one question the words that came before.

That style, more than his physical presence, made him a perfect fit to play the Ugandan ruler, Idi Amin.

A great performance doesn’t make for a great movie on its own, however. Forest Whitaker could have been twice as good as he was and I’d still have a hard time recommending The Last King of Scotland.

Admitting that, it’s easy to see all the hype in a new light, with the wide attention for his performance almost akin to saying “he speaks so well.”

One Bruce Banter at tells of how Whittaker’s Oscar win was telegraphed by white critics:

But the reason he will win has nothing to do with those things mentioned, but everything to do with who he is playing. If Whitaker would have been playing Kwame Nkrumah or Patrice Lumumba, we would not even be talking about how excellent he played that part. Those historical portrayals are way too dignified for Oscar voters and Hollywood. Denzel was Oscar winner material with his roles in The Hurricane and Malcolm X but no nod, yet he received it for his character in Training Day. Idi Amin was not a dignified figure thou some may beg to differ, so Forest will have no voter conflict in who he played.

The Last King of Scotland isn’t even about Idi Amin. It’s about the sexual conquests of a young white doctor who heads to Uganda in search of adventure.

It’s not five minutes into the film when he’s had his first lay.

If you think it’s improbable that the first English-speaking woman in Uganda that he meets has to jump his bones simply because they shared a bus seat, The Last King of Scotland probably isn’t the movie for you. 88% of professional film critics at will disagree with you, but I think you’ll be in better company.

Indeed, the only woman who is able—if only barely—to resist the protagonist’s charms is white (and is played by Gillian Anderson); somehow black women don’t even have a chance, even though James McAvoy exudes all the virility of a mewling Pokemon in his performance. They’ll literally die to sleep with him.

While McAvoy’s fictional Nicholas Garrigan is chided in the film as being just another tourist who “came to Africa to fuck,” the audience is invited to fuck those women right along with him. Only Gillian Anderson is allowed to keep her shirt on. All the gravitas afforded to anti-colonialist rebukes like the one above is ultimately hollow: The Last King of Scotland is merely an exercise in virtuosity. From the deep colors and grand architectures of the filming to the sweeping work done by Whitaker in showing the soaring heights and diving depths of Amin’s personality, all are for the sake of entertainment.

The political messages in The Last King of Scotland are tacked on precisely so white viewers—male ones, anyway—can feel good reveling in the excitement of the atrocities they watch.

Having seen the film, I can say that I know a good deal less about Idi Amin than before: certainly, I know more in an abstract sense, but I am far less certain about what I do know. The Last King of Scotland is a fantasy of a film drawn from a fantasy of a novel. Not only are characters an amalgamation of real people and timelines are condensed, the movie saw fit to change events in Amin’s life that were actually already on tape.

John Thomason at the Orlando Weekly gives a striking account of that and a good background on the 1994 documentary, General Idi Amin Dada.

Three short reviews (dissenting from the popular praise for the film) that might be of interest to those with more feminist sensibilities can be found at

Michael Joshua Rowin:

…the rough-hewn montage sequences (one of which might be the strangest of the year—after discovering one of the president’s mutilated victims, Nicholas visits Amin and his cronies zoning out to a screening of “Deep Throat.” Amin asks, with perfect sincerity, whether it’s anatomically possible for a woman to have a clitoris there?)

And Nicolas Rapold:

A filmmaker who feels the need to jazz up a hijacking may well feel that a paranoid genocidal lunatic isn’t quite enough to hold our bovine attentions.

If you were to ask me what the first thing is that pops into my head when you say “Ward Churchill,” I’d honestly have to answer with “pedophiles.” Word association can be a mysterious thing indeed.

But not this time.

No, I don’t have any secret information about the man, now recently fired from the University of Colorado. I didn’t conduct a sting or catch him chatting up teenagers on MySpace. Nor have I heard about any sort of illicit fetish, save for his propensity to pretend to be Native American—though I can’t fathom what guise that takes in his bedroom.

Most don’t consider his masquerade to be a serious offense. Not even the Board of Regents that booted him out gave a damn about that. No, they were concerned about the white-rules he broke: a disjointed mishmash of banal administrative errors and exposing—if only by accident and incompetence—the cracks in the lofty mythology that academia holds for those who want to stand on the shoulders of its giants.

It would take a very brave white man, one with a large audience who isn’t afraid to say unpopular things, to even have a chance at making the rest of white society respect tribal citizenship. You know, someone just like Ward Churchill, except—my, now isn’t that a Catch 22?

But it’s not that fetish (or even the silly conceit that not getting a haircut makes him look less like a white guy) that connects him in my mind to pedophiles.

His lawyer helped me with that. David Lane, a self-professed 1rst Amendment guru, made the cable-news rounds last night in order to drum up even more attention for his client. He informed me that Ward Churchill was only around other people who plagiarized. He said that Churchill’s “smallpox blankets” were from oral traditions that he was recording for the sake of posterity. And he said that even though Churchill can demolish every single complaint against him on a point for point basis (“HULK SMASH!!!”), the real issue is the witch hunt that was obviously started over the “nine-eleven” remarks.

In short: if Churchill loses his job it will have a chilling effect on the human race’s ability to generate new knowledge.

Wouldn’t it be grand to be that important? And know it?

Just imagine being able to say, without bursting out into laughter, “the fate of the Free World rests in my pension plan!”

This is a guy who reportedly said “new game, new game” as he vowed to sue his former employer: one might expect that from some troglodyte bragging about killing prostitutes on his PlayStation, not the scholar who is supposed to stand between us and the return of the Dark Ages.

The last time I encountered someone thusly important was in an article at Counter-Punch, a Leftist magazine that likes native people—or so I hear—especially when they’re white like Churchill.

It was about “Sexual Fascism in Progressive America,” in the words of its author, a real charmer calling himself “Pariah.”

The article is one of those sixth-grade concoctions where the writer is utterly convinced that he’s the very first to construct the sentence “the last safe minority to oppress in America is…”

Well, in this case, it’s pedophiles. (President Bush hates them so they must be a bunch of stand-up fellows; it’s only logical, after all.) The author uses other people, equally anonymous, to make his points:

“Most sex offenders, says one therapist who works with sex offenders in a state prison system, are ‘Gentle grandfathers who made one mistake in judgment years ago and fondled their grandchild. Or lonely, geeky gay men—teenagers some of them—who sought mutual sexual release with adolescent boys. Or young female teachers who succumbed to the wiles of handsome adolescent boys or girls. Or young men who got drunk and pushed their girlfriends over a line that is now called date rape.’”

Real progressives, “Pariah” argues, should be about abolishing such lines. Viva la Revolucion and kill all the frumpy puritans while we’re at it! Thankfully, the author has the geniuses at Counter-Punch to help him get that message out.

It’s this writer that sprang to mind when I found out exactly how important Ward Churchill is—and has to be—to the rest of us plain folk.

Indeed, Pariah too, is that important. As the Counter-Punch editors explain:

“The writer remains anonymous because he writes and is politically active in several completely unrelated social justice movements. He fears that the shunning and marginalization he describes for those who write about this topic could compromise (unfairly) his other work.”

Without the valiant efforts of this one Pariah, we might not have anyone to save the whales.

Unions would continue to die out.

Illegal wiretapping will go unabated.

Imagine being so important. And not just in that John Lennon way, I mean really imagine it: we’re not talking about heaven and hell. This is something that you can witness in the here and now in the cases of Churchill and Pariah.

Imagine being so vital to the fate of all the little people out there—so much so that a respected progressive journal will protect your identity as you write a manifesto in defense of date rapists, just in case you manage to singlehandedly stop global warming someday.

Similarly, imagine that people who claim to be all about Indigenous Rights will champion you, even after you make a mockery out of tribal authority, just because you can shout “Little Eichmanns” to get a rise out of Bill O’Reilly.

Now that’s power.

It’s also why I’ll always think of pedophiles whenever I hear the name Ward Churchill. Fair? Perhaps not.

Of course, no one can prove that he didn’t write that article at Counter-Punch, either.

Dear Ben,

In most circumstances, I’d begin a letter like this one with a Dear Mr. Bleiweiss.

We’re not friends, you don’t know me, and I’m about to level some fairly heavy stuff in your direction.

On the other hand, you’ve been kind enough to respond to my more basic questions on the forums at StarCityGames, sometimes taking me aside privately: you, above all people, realize that something as fundamentally trivial as a collectable card game is literally a house of cards. They’re worth nothing if no one wants to play and your business model depends upon fostering community. You do that better than anyone. It’s a testament to your own diligence that I feel comfortable starting this letter with a “Dear Ben.”

I can say with full confidence that I believe that you’re the single most positive force in the game of Magic. From your work in the “Building on a Budget” series to the columns you write on community building, you’re the one voice that reliably says: “Magic is for everybody.” Or, at least it has the potential to be if we don’t let ourselves get in the way.

That’s why I found it so disappointing that you signed off on trying to exploit the French versions of the Future Sight card, “Delay.” Yes, the card was translated into French as “Retard.” Merely selling them to English speaking audiences is one thing, but putting a premium on them is quite another: StarCityGames unveiled them at $15, a far cry from the $2 you ask for the English edition.

French Delay Magic Future SightBy adding that $13 tax on a piece of cardboard, you’re not just an invisible-hand guided by what demand for the product might bear. Instead, you’re complicit in the joke and any harm it might cause. That $13 tax says that you know certain members of the Magic community think the translation is amusing and that they’ll gladly pay $60 for a play-set of four in order to sneer “retard” at their opponents. (Note: no italics to represent the foreign nature of the word in this case.) You’re aiding and abetting that.

Of course, a fair number of those opponents will indeed find that quite amusing—although most of them somewhat less so if they wind up losing to the well-moneyed jokers, one might imagine. They’re playing against Islands, too, after all. No matter which side of the table they’re sitting on, they’re equally in need of your community building articles. Perhaps the one where you cite how a Women’s Studies class altered so many of your perspectives:

…it was the single most important class I ever took at any school, and it changed my entire life. It opened my eyes to a lot of my problems, including taking many aspects of my life for granted, pointing out all the wrong ways in which I was treating other people (both male and female), and opened up an empathy in me that I had suppressed years ago.

Empathy is the reason why people stop finding “retard” funny. It’s why we remove words like that from our vocabularies—all sorts of terms that demean entire classes of people, insults that incur splash damage far beyond the people we even know.

The Magic community needs to grow out. I’d say “grow up,” but there’s nothing inherently childlike about arrogance and hatred. Indeed, those are things that are pumped into us as we age. Giving a damn is somehow “Political Correctness.” I’m not writing this to censor anyone, especially you Ben, but think about the example that StarCityGames is setting.

It’s more than just French “Delays.”

It’s Raphael Levy with his “Pimp my Draft” column that you fund. Yes, it’s a take off a popular television show, he didn’t invent it. And yes, the word “pimp” has been afforded secondary meanings, making it harmless enough that even the supposedly conservative world of country music finds a Trick my Truck title to be “family friendly” in a way the Dixie Chicks are not.

Some statistics report that the average age of entry into prostitution is 14 years of age. That’s in the United States. The numbers are even more dismal elsewhere. For people like us who have the disposable income to even think about engaging in something like Magic to make light of that is—well, despicable doesn’t begin to cover it. Not by a long shot.

Kyle Sanchez is another writer funded by StarCityGames.  As the resident sometimes-shock-jock that you employ, the title of his weekly “Down and Dirty” column makes light of his last name and a “sex act” where a man smears feces across a woman’s lip. Sanchez recently gave one of his tournament reports the byline of “Montreal Massacre: 29 Hours of Pain.”

Marc Lépine walked into the École Polytechnique in Montreal on December 6, 1989 and murdered 14 women after accusing them of being feminists who stole his rightful place in society.

Kyle Sanchez, on the other hand, had a hard time transporting hair care products in his luggage.

Clearly the homage was justified.

This sort of selfishness pervades the StarCityGames forums as well. I’m not saying that it’s any worse than other male-centric forums, only that with your help we can hope to do better.

A simple keyword search of the forum (at the time of this letter) revealed 430 uses of the word “rape” and an additional 227 instances of “raped.” While very few of the authors were speaking specifically of a forcible sex act, each and every use was sexualized: real men penetrate and are superior for it; to be penetrated is to be victimized and to be victimized is to be a not a man but a woman or something worse.

Quotes like “I can go through this forum and every other and rape a hundred stupid posts for terrible ideas” or “Sure, [a Threshold deck] will rape a net deck version [of Flash] from a random Player” abound.The forums also contain 1500 uses of the word “pimp,” which has come to mean foil-coated or otherwise extravagant cards in the Magic community’s lexicon.

One “Boxy Brown (Just a Box Bitch)” of Santa Cruz commented favorably on your sale of French “Delays”:

“Yes. French Delays are awesome. It’s the perfect combination of good utility card + inherent pimpness for being foreign + hilarious joke.”

I believe you read that post as later in the very same thread you spoke of your plans to expand your foreign inventory.

“Pimp-ness” is about masculinity in more ways than one.

Until last Winter, if you asked me what the last rare card I pulled from a Magic pack was, I’d have told you “Phyrexian Dreadnaught.” That was in 1996. When I was invited by several family members to play in a Legacy tournament at Game Empire in San Diego, StarCityGames was my source not only for cards but for getting a handle on Magic again. Hell, the last time I played, the “stack” had not even been invented yet!

Thanks to you, I handily won my very first match that day. My second of the tournament didn’t go so well. During our initial game, my opponent played a “Phyrexian Arena.” Only it was a Japanese version, a foil at that, “pimp” in every conceivable way. I had no idea what it did and I listened to his explanation and said “ok.” I was a fish out of water and I certainly didn’t want to make waves. He was The Man and I was in his territory: the last thing I wanted to do was to look like I was in an even weaker position by appealing to others for help.

Yes, that’s my mistake—due to my own schooling in the art of masculinity that I have yet to overcome completely—but it’s an error that “pimp players” deliberately work to exploit whenever they can. Even the idea of a decadently expensive deck (foil and foreign versions being irrelevant to the mechanics of the game) is designed to say that the one wielding it is an “insider,” more a part of the game, and the community, than someone with lesser cards. As a society, we’re all taught that lesser people should know their place and that they certainly shouldn’t snitch.

When it became clear that his chances were going down the tubes and I had him on the ropes, he chose to “not pay the upkeep of one life” and sacrificed the card, as if it were an infinitely superior version of “Phyrexian Etchings.” He won the following two games. I later went to the store owners, who were effectively judges, and asked them what the card actually did, wanting to be clear in the future. They had a talk with my opponent (though his victory stood) and I was happy enough that I now knew what the card did. I was there to learn, not play hall monitor.

Not to bore you with more personal history, but the following week I participated in a Standard tournament, at a neighboring store called Artifex. My first opponent was playing a variant of what I now know is “Solar Flare.” (I was then ignorant of such things, being new on the Type 2 scene: hell, I was playing tribal soldiers!) A teenager of indeterminate age, he was also employing Japanese foils. Let me tell you, having to take someone’s word for what blue cards do is a scary prospect! Trying to explain what “Compulsive Research” does off the top of your head is trickier than it sounds, even when you’re being completely honest about it.

He might have been honest about it, but he sure wasn’t happy about it: he was gleeful, thrilled that he found someone so inferior as to not recognize every legal card by its artwork. And someone who was playing garbage like “Orcish Artillery” at that—someone he could treat as inferior, not just to his “Akroma” and “Angels of Despair,” but to himself as well. Then he lost twice to a “Blood Moon” that I pulled from a pack before he could even read.

Even if he had run roughshod over me, however, as he certainly might have, and probably ought to have, I think that “pimp” cards are unhealthy for the Magic scene. The callous sexism echoed in the term “pimp” itself speaks to other inequalities. For every person “pimpness” draws into the game, it pushes another person out: masculinity is a zero sum enterprise, after all.

Imagine, please, someone else going to their first Type 2 or Standard tournament. He or she taps two “mountains” and a “plains,” announces “Orcish Artillery,” only to be greeted by some guy sneering “reee-tard.”That’s a rather unfortunate introduction to the Magic community. But it’s one that can certainly happen now, thanks in part to StarCityGames. What would you say to that player in your next “Real Deal” column, Ben?

I don’t know how much money you’ve made off of the French “Delays.” I’m guessing maybe about $400, maybe as much as a $1000; perhaps much less as you’ve dropped the price to $12.50. I’m not sure that you need to make money in that way. Maybe scraping the bottom of the barrel isn’t worth it.

I can tell you that I won’t be pre-ordering the full set of theme decks for the upcoming Lorwyn expansion from you, as I did for both Planar Chaos and Future Sight. Nor will you be my choice for single cards in the immediate future. My business isn’t a huge loss, but I hope that my respect will be, and that you’ll consider my words here.

Knowing the kind of person you are, I believe that you will.  Sincerely,

Richard Leader

What about the “menz?”

Or sometimes, “teh menz,” to fully devolve into that self-aware style of internet speak.

I’m hesitant to make this post as it’s impossible to say anything definitive (it’s very hard to track down the lineages of made up words) and I am personally torn on the subject. As such, I will be brief:

Using the term menz gives women, especially feminist women, a way to trivialize men. For many women, having access to such a tool is both a rhetorical necessity and a morale booster: it’s not really revenge of any sort, but a needed way to put men out of the limelight and women first. What about the menz, indeed.

However, the use of it isn’t restricted to women who oppose patriarchy. Increasingly, as the neologism is popularized in the “gender arena,” many are using menz to trivialize men at the exact moment when trivializing them trivializes the male power that they are using against women.

I find that problematic to say the least. It’s not my place to say whether or not anyone should use the word (and I certainly believe women deserve a short-hand way to accomplish what menz does), but I don’t believe that anyone has had a serious discussion about how the expression very often seems to backfire.

Furthermore, while it’s hard to say how the word entered the realm of the gender arena (there’s a men’s rights website in New Zealand that incorporates their initials at the end of “men”), there’s a popular usage of it that predates the current context: for some time it has been a riff on “ghey menz,” a deliberate lisp used by homophobes in more masculine forums.

It’s seemingly impossible to say whether the current feminist (or not) use of it was an imitation of the prior phenomenon or was derived on its own. It would be regrettable if a homophobic joke is now a feminist trope.

The trivialization that menz accomplishes is done through feminizing (to make feminine, not feminist, to be clear) them to an extent, making the word soft, somehow porous and therefore penetrable. And maybe that reversal is necessary to feminism in some amount—and is thus markedly different from homophobia in all shapes and forms.

As I said before, I don’t know anything about any of this: I’m only suggesting that there is something here worth discussing and thinking about critically.

It’s not a DVD, it’s a Disney DVD! I’ve always found Disney’s brand entrenchment to be almost too bizarre for words. It’s like they’re operating out of a Machiavellian psychology handbook that was printed 150 years ago: as if redundancy alone can hypnotize people into believing in your corporation’s self image.

For a company that owns the golden goose of the American cultural imagination—our beloved imagery that honors and inculcates compulsory heterosexuality, fear of strong mothers, etc.—Disney seems awfully insecure. One might think that having the power to change our copyright laws at their core would assuage their fears, but even that proves to be insufficiently calming. In many ways, Disney reminds me of the pornographic industry: if smut peddlers were half as rich as they claim to be, they wouldn’t have a quarter of the time to brag about how rich they are and how much they are protecting the free-speech of the rest of us.

Disney is similar with all the phony threats they make about taking their own products off the market, like a spoiled child taking his ball and running home. Who does that? “No, we’re not going to sell you Sleeping Beauty right now, we don’t like to make money all of the time, only some of the time! We’re that rich!”

After popping in Bridge to Terabithia, one is greeted by another Disney Innovation: “Disney Fast Play.”

What is it? In reality, it’s a way for you to let your kids use the DVD player without letting them ever touch the remote control with their greasy mitts. In the mind of Disney, it’s the best thing since the last thing since sliced bread: a way for you to get right on with the movie, instead of having to use a menu to disable the advertisements.

That, of course, happens after they spend 30 seconds telling you how cool and special Disney Fast Play is with a masculine voice just brimming with sincerity and gravitas. If you don’t touch the remote during this period, all of the advertisements for other Disney DVDs will then start up automatically (just like on every other non Disney DVD lacking Disney Fast Play) so your youngsters can watch them every single day and grow up to be loyal consumers who brag about watching the Super Bowl “for the commercials.”

Bridge to Terabithia: I’m not sure if it was ever a children’s story. For an enduring book that has been taught in countless classrooms, it has always lacked a target demographic. Too sad and tragic for kids, too fanciful for many young teens preferring their secreted copies of Go Ask Alice, it’s really always been for adults and our own nostalgia: something we foist on kids for their own good, even though the benefit is entirely ours. Then they get to repeat the same process. Katherine Paterson’s Terabithia will outlast the cockroach because of that.

In order to sell it as a movie though, Disney had to misrepresent it as some sort of Lord of the Rings retread, creating a trailer that blended every special effects shot (none that impressive) in the film into an altogether different product.

It’s not the only thing different though.

In the magical world of Disney, having Leslie look like she’s about to strip for a Suicide Girls’ shoot is preferable to having her look like, well, a boy.

Some of her daily costumes for school would make twenty-something club kids jealous.

It’s not that there is anything wrong with a girl of that age dressing like that, nor is there any fault in AnnaSophia Robb’s performance. But it’s adults who are crafting the character and her image in a world where other adults have exploited the iconography of that image in very misogynist ways. I find that irresponsible. It’s also sexist:

There are a variety of ways to show someone as an inescapable outsider. For Disney, dressing her up in curiously-pristine “punky” clothes (that just happen to be out of some dirty-old-man fantasy) somehow seems like a safer bet than allowing some sort of gender amorphism.

Yes, I know, shame on Disney, buncha conservative creeps.

Well, it’s not just them. Liberals, fibbing that some sort of sexual revolution has transpired, swear up and down that celebrated rock stars and movie vixens are the definition of “androgynous,” not the perpetually ugly and sexless “Pat” of Saturday Night Live skits.

Everyone has somehow agreed that David Bowie’s eyeliner changed the world and that Angelina Jolie is somehow butch: Play a character that is wacky enough, or be wacky enough in real life, and all the dudes out there automatically stopped downloading her nudie clips on Mr. because she’s somehow macho now. As the agreed upon story goes, her masculinity repels all the straight-laced plebian men out there—guys who don’t have a clue about the magical world of gender transcendence—as their heterosexuality just can’t stomach her after that. Right. Hey, whatever Judith Halberstam says.

These are the same people, in a sense, who kept The Gendercator (a story about a lesbian who wakes up in a surgical future where she has to pick being a straight man or a straight woman) out of theaters for being “transphobic.”

A seven year old boy threatens to cut off his penis? Offer to have a doctor do it for him, allow the child to live as a her, and celebrate her experience on CNN. A new world—full of hope and caring—we live in, is it not?

OTOH, it’s better to have a pop-tart Leslie Burke in Bridge to Terabithia than one who resembles a tomboy in more ways than her tree climbing ability.

Finally, conservatives and libertines can agree on something.

The one thing I loved, adored, about the movie was the running. Not the early race where Leslie wipes the floor with the entire class of boys (and I weep for her feet in those Chuck Taylors, canvas high tops are not exactly the first choice of sprinters), nor the surreal dash towards the end of the film as they fly across their world of Terabithia.

Instead, I enjoyed the more mundane kind of running: Jess and Leslie just getting from Point A to Point B (not that either point mattered) the way that kids have to, lacking more ferocious sorts of transportation. There’s a joy in it, one you don’t see replicated too often among adults.

That probably holds especially true for heterosexuals. If there’s one thing that men do, it’s fuck up women’s workout routines. Not that having a “workout routine” is the healthiest way to go through life—move, or not, because you want to!—but it’s the menfolk out there who use “cardio” as a word for everything that’s not bench pressing and “protein” for anything that’s not beer.

When they “tag along” on girlfriend’s workout, it’s always disastrous, especially if they happen upon other males (sometimes me) along the way. All of a sudden, women find themselves trailing behind their boyfriend or husband in 400 meter dashes (so much for that aerobic cardio work) just so boytoy can have a chance at alpha status. The idea: be the fastest person on the track for one or two laps and then go home happy, not more fit.

Once, I saw a man, failing at that, collect his “partner” and retire with her back to their tinted SUV parked behind the school. They came out after about fifteen minutes and returned to the track just as I was leaving, his manhood fully intact.

You get to see a lot of things there. It makes for some of the best people watching in town: if only because little league is the only thing that gets white people off of their own damn lawns in the summer. I don’t get to see those people, mind you, they’re a pitch over on one of the diamonds. Mostly, I get to watch how they treat their castoffs.

All the kids that daddy isn’t beating up umpires over.

They’re the ones who are left to wander about on their own: future Leslies and Jesses. Every so often they get screamed at, hollered at from afar, but between such episodes of—I guess you could call it “parenting”—they get to stand tall and pronounce themselves queens of the port-a-pit or bury each other like pirates in the shallow beaches of the long-jump run.

Watching Bridge to Terabithia, I was reminded of two older kids (about the age of Leslie and Jess) that I saw walking the track not long ago as a sibling’s baseball game lingered on into the evening. They weren’t running, but just ambling about: our society’s value system weighs on us all so heavily that I was tempted to say they were “killing time,” as if their conversation was actually less important than the baseball game they were forced to wait on.

The girl was a hand and a half taller than the boy. I often wonder about how many women relish, looking back, those few short seasons when they tower over their male peers. Not all females get to experience that, of course, but for those who do, I’d imagine it’s both nerve wracking and a bit glorious.

All the books for adolescents printed (whether by well meaning liberals or conservatives like Dr. James Dobson; I myself was saddled with the latter) probably describe that nervousness as a state of being “awkward.” From memory, I think they defined awkward thusly: pre-teen girls are clumsy flamingos constantly in danger of toppling over in the wind.

Of course, all of that Disney (and Harlequin) imagery of tiny women fitting into the massive arms of men (Tinkerbelle being the logical conclusion of that fantasy), being swept up and carried over thresholds, I’d imagine that being too large to imagine oneself performing the female-role in such theatrics is an awkward place to inhabit. To say the very-fucking-least.

I don’t want to presume to think that the two kids walking together were a couple. But I’d imagine that for heterosexual women, memories of that “awkward” time are especially conflicting.

I’m always amazed in online personal ads how often straight women set minimum heights for prospective partners, whether it’s done subtly in number-ranges off to the side or overtly in their introduction, with a “be over five-eight or else!” It’s not even exceptionally tall women who do this. One would think that a woman who is five-one (or even five-seven!) could reliably meet men larger than her without the risk of looking like a jerk. White people, after all, seldom request to date only other whites: we are able to accomplish that goal without going to any trouble or admitting to a fetish.

White people as a class might play it safe in personal ads but safety isn’t sexy when it comes to women as a class. Indeed, I might think that a woman is being an ass for requesting a taller man (especially when she claims to be a progressive of any sort) but I’m also reminded that I certainly meet and exceed her requirement. Statistically speaking, most men are thusly reminded: even the ones who would think it only natural that a woman would prefer a larger partner and wouldn’t think less of her for being blunt about that desire.

“Be over five-eight or else!” might be a jerk-faced thing to say, but ultimately, it’s sexy. And it’s for men’s benefit, even though men’s rights activists might cite that as a form of discrimination.

Indeed, the bully of Bridge to Terabithia is a seventh grade girl, Janice Avery. She towers over the other students and is transformed into a forest troll in the imaginations of Jess and Leslie. While she is redeemed by the end of the story as a gentle soul, she is never beautiful: her redemption is tied up in her being rejected by a popular boy. She’s still a troll, a giant monster, even if one friendly to the protagonist.

In patriarchal sexuality, risk is its own reward as danger is the principal ingredient in what women are expected to find erotic. Likewise, males are expected to get a sexual charge out of having the potential to do wrong: even those of us who behave ourselves find it advantageous to be around women who remind us of that power, and so “petite” women have come to symbolize all that is beautiful. Of course, one must point out that some men run the other direction, dominatrix fetishes and what have you, but male power (and the money that undergirds it) reminds us that such dalliances are merely games.

While Bridge to Terabithia might have a male protagonist and a twist that might sour female readers, the story is probably more beloved by women than men. Women, after all, are the ones who have been teaching the book to two generations of students.

Beyond women just being more literate than men in general, one could surmise that, especially for straight women, Terabithia presents an escape from the world of Tinkerbelles in outstretched palms, a place where a Leslie can run stride for stride with her Jess.


And that’s not bad in a Disney movie.

At first, I was unsure of what to think about Ward Churchill. I mean, everyone was telling us what to think. FOX News called him a terrorist. Counter-Punch called him a hero. I really wasn’t swayed by the latter’s campaign in his favor: it’s not like Churchill had said anything new and it’s not like he said it more eloquently than anyone else. He spoke well enough, sometimes; I thought an address to students, delivered under heavy security, one that aired on CSPAN, was suitable and adequate.

So much furor and attention for someone who is, at his very best, only adequate? Last I heard, that phenomenon was called “white male privilege.”

Indeed, it’s fairly easy to forget “Free Leonard Peltier” when the bigger crowds are shouting “Free Ward Churchill and give him a 401K.”

That is a bit rude. On the other hand, Churchill’s defense, some sort of Miranda-style syllogism, doesn’t seem on the up and up to me: “ok, so you discovered I’m a fraud who lied my way into my job, but your discovery of all of that doesn’t count because your search only happened because you wanted to violate my academic right to free speech because you were afraid of Bill O’Reilly.”

Ahem. I have no idea of the legal basis for that argument. After Scooter Libby, I’m not entirely sure how many wrongs it takes to make a right: I suppose once you have enough of them to require long-division to sort them out, most of us just give up and look the other way.

Churchill’s case is coming up at the end of July:

Discussions of race in the mainstream media have recently been shifting the entirety of white privilege onto the backs of white women. Liberal white men have enjoyed this process, snickering constantly over the corpses of white women, women whose disappearances only warrant media attention because they were too pretty and too white—before they were murdered by white men, anyway.

That’s not to say white women are or should be off the “hook” for white privilege, only that some of the same liberals who are rightly taking issue with Angelina Jolie for her blackface role are all too keen to reward Ward Churchill for his Indian-face performance.

It doesn’t seem that difficult for a white man to become a brother to someone, anyone, given the realities of power in our society. And for a bunch of sensitive dudes with awareness, we’re all too happy to let white women “hold the bag” when it comes to taking responsibility for white privilege.

Our freedom does not hinge upon the protection of Ward Churchill and his career, anymore than our freedom of speech is tied to Larry Flynt’s: there are far more deserving people than Churchill who require the urgent attention of the self-described Left. That he has become the focus of so much worry by liberals is as racist as Churchill’s attempt to ignore the sovereignty of the peoples for whom he claims to speak.

Some reading on Churchill:

Elizabeth Cook-Lynn:

Many of the scandals in academia these days are media events, melodramatic and sensational: just the ticket for someone like Ward Churchill, a man who loves center stage and has recently been outed as a wannabee Indian and a plagiarizer after a successful 20-year professorship based in fraud and ethnic studies at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Sensational examples like Chagnon or Margaret Mead or Stephen Ambrose come to mind, but who remembers?

Sooner or later, these scandals ebb and wane and stars flicker out. At long last, though, one of the many Indian impersonators in academia has become the focus of the most significant scandal to reach Indian country since Red Fox. This impersonator at the University of Colorado has been described as a plagiarizer and a fraud by an investigative committee made up of his colleagues and is, thus, charged with those crimes. Unfortunately for Indian studies, that same committee has refused to call his claim to Indian-ness or Indian identity either a ”hoax” or a ”crime.” This would seem to indicate that this committee of anti-historical intellectuals carries on the misguided belief that there is no such thing as tribal nation citizenship.

Suzan Shown Harjo

There are many legit Indian and non-Indian people who are enthusiastically, unselfishly, tirelessly helpful to Indian people and causes. These generous traits are welcomed by many Native people, especially those who are overworked, understaffed, impoverished, stressed out or under siege.

Educator Norbert Hill, Oneida, gave Ward Churchill his first job at the University of Colorado – even though Hill recognized him as an Indian ”wannabe” – because Hill’s program needed help and Churchill was an eager beaver.

Churchill and many pseudo-Indians initially act like eager beavers. The difference between Indian and non-Indian eager beavers on the one hand and pseudo-Indian eager beavers on the other is that the pseudo-Indians are the ones pretending to be something they are not: Indians.

There are people who don’t think that lying about being Native is a serious matter, or even a lie. It’s more like a white lie, a pen name or a hobby. Actually, lying about being Native is more like identity theft, using a stolen passport or falsifying sworn documents. It is not victimless.

Pseudo-Indians are masters of distraction. Churchill is a classic obfuscator, as evidenced by the way he has kept reporters in Colorado running in circles chasing his biography, which is an unbroken chain of white roots linking back to southern Illinois and northern Europe.

When pressed, Churchill plays the ”Indian” victim and makes a bid for sympathy. When pressed harder, he goes on the attack. These are typical reactive traits of pseudo-Indians.

Harjo’s taxonomy of Eager Beavers, Weeping Willows, Prickly Pears, and Spies in Disguise can also apply to pro-feminists (I’m certainly guilty) and even male-to-female transsexuals. It’s worth reading and thinking about in wider terms.

Finally, the literary equivalent of Ward Churchill, “Nasdijj” or Tim Barrus:

“Did a struggling white writer of gay erotica become one of multicultural literature’s most celebrated memoirists — by passing himself off as Native American?”

Well, yes, he did. And we helped him.

The CW Network’s Gilmore Girls came to a warm and inoffensive conclusion this past Tuesday. The finale gave everyone pretty much what they hoped for: a chance for the wide pastiche of character actors to take a bow, another windfall of a cameo (Christiane Amanpour), a big kiss, and a goodbye.

Like most fans of the series, I enjoyed the frenetic pace of the dialogue—I have an aunt who loves the show both because of and despite of that, being that she generally has no idea what they’re actually talking about through the tirades of “cultural references.” Indeed, it’s hard to think of a program that rewards watchers more for being plugged-in consumerists.

Like everyone else, I also enjoyed the interplay between the two leads.

When they were together.

Rory was always a touch too perfect to be interesting on her own.

I think Paris was a deliberate commentary on that perfection, or at least its unattainable nature for women: she was the person Rory would have been were it not for the necessities of network marketing. (Liza Weil had originally auditioned for Rory.) If Gilmore Girls was a show about characters, tragically, Rory was never allowed to be one: she was more of a vehicle, a blank slate of quiet, effortless perfection for launching one boring romance after another. That’s what female “stars” exist for, after all; it’s the female “characters” who get to have all the fun.

Her perfection—and the utter imperfection of her suitors, all cast from the underbellies of various fourth grade princess fantasies—made the prospect of any relationship for her an ugly impossibility. As the show was a drama, and mother and daughter could never be lucky in love at the same time, it meant for a lot of adolescent romance that is best fast-forwarded through.

It’s disturbing to think that a show celebrated for a mother and daughter relationship often didn’t really have a daughter in it, but rather someone to set up punch-lines. Some like to blame Alexis Bledel for that. But it wasn’t her fault that Rory was the consistently least interesting female character on the show.

If I were to blame anyone or anything for that, my finger would point first to the ideal of feminism that supposedly progressive types are peddling on cable these days.

Joss Whedon, especially, gets a lot of credit for crafting “feminist-friendly” fare. And to a good extent, it is, even if scare-quotes are still necessary. Thematically, cinematic “feminism” has to differ from its real-life inspiration. Yes, some of these contortions are necessary to get female-centered programming onto the screen at all.

But men like Whedon also have their own ideals of what a “real” feminist is. Whedon’s friend Rob Thomas drives that stake even deeper with his Veronica Mars, where his feisty girl-detective is out tasering the bad guys while the school feminists are navel-gazing over theory and leveling false accusations against frat boys.

Back to Gilmore Girls:

Paris Geller is the ugly feminist, just funny and vulnerable enough to be palatable, enjoyable in short doses only with Rory as a foil. She is selfish, venal, and pursues her perfection with ruthless diligence.

Rory Gilmore is the post-feminist, plucky like some flapper heroine, who can make the world right just by being herself and bootstrapping her way through it. Somehow she always winds up on top by putting others first.

reading is sexyGilmore Girls’ creator Amy Sherman-Palladino, notwithstanding, it seems like a lot of men have a vested interest in promoting Rory as the ideal feminist. “Reading is Sexy,” after all. (A hipster t-shirt design she sported on the series once.)

Thankfully, they at least gave Rory the dignity of avoiding a marriage to her gadfly prince-charming, even if the end result made the final few episodes feel more than a little bit like a middle school career-day film: you too can join the fast paced world of journalism! It was sad enough to watch Lane sit on the sidelines of her own dream.

And by “they,” I mean the season’s producer, David Rosenthal, who replaced Sherman-Palladino and her husband. In contrast to Rory and her effortless perfection, always sitting still in class with the posture befitting a Good Girl, Rosenthal is proof that a man can be a living train wreck and still receive the very best of second chances.

Prior to his installation as Gilmore Girls’ show-runner, he reportedly had a past of intense misogyny. recounts his story as follows,

“The guy quit Spin City in order to concentrate on writing a play about his desire to have sex with Heidi Klum,” Julia told me. “Dropped out of TV completely to do this. He pretty much had a breakdown, dropped out of society, and became the madman writing a misogynist play. He lived like this until his dad read the play and actually had him committed.”What?!? After speaking to Julia, I did some more digging. Rosenthal had in fact written a play called “Love” about his quest to get supermodel Heidi Klum to have sex with him. Reviews of the play, which apparently contained so many profanities that it rated an NC-17, were not kind. The New York Times called Rosenthal’s play “not only offensive but incompetent” and said that the way that Rosenthal talked about Klum—whom he had met during a guest stint on Rosenthal’s show Spin City—was “as cruel and disgusting as actual stalking.”

The New York Times reviewer wasn’t the only one perturbed by Rosenthal’s play. Rosenthal had sent copies to his then agents at Endeavor—Ari Emanuel and Richard Weitz—who promptly dropped him as a client. His rabbi father, after reading the play, had Rosenthal briefly committed at UCLA Medical Center. Wait, what?


In 2001, Rosenthal appeared on Howard Stern’s radio show and spoke about the incident.

This is the guy they brought in to give Gilmore fans their happy ending.

I recently had the chance to view Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room. Like many, I knew the basics of the Enron story, I could be a snide finger pointer at the business world like the average liberal-type, but somehow I thought the nitty-gritty details were beyond my comprehension: why bother? The film did a decent job at explaining why I should bother, why we should all bother.

Plus, there’s enough “how did they get that tape?” moments to keep you enthralled, footage of stuff that you can’t believe there’s footage of, like a video-greeting card that George W. Bush did on behalf of a Ken Lay as a gift for a friend. Things that defy explanation, like a taped self-parody Jeff Skilling did about the company’s bookkeeping policies, or recorded conversations between Enron floor-traders about how they were breaking the California electric grid on purpose.

On the other hand, there’s also some “why did they use that tape?” moments. Primarily, about 45 seconds worth of strip club footage—likely bought from a stock company—that boosted the documentary to an R-rating for no good reason.

The footage in question plays out during a discussion of Lou Pai, the lucky Enron executive who “got out first,” leaving the company and cashing in his stock at Enron’s peak in order to meet the terms of a divorce settlement. Talking heads in the film repeatedly refer to him as “mysterious,” as if he were some sort of shadowy figure that appeared out of nowhere and vanished just as quickly. They did everything short of calling him a ninja: wouldn’t want to be racist when you’re being racist, after all.

Indeed, much was made of Pai’s patronage of strip clubs (supposedly the cause of his divorce), the humorous trope of the lusty—yet safely tiny and effete—Asian guy being played for all its worth.

Enron folklore claims that Pai once explained that he splashed gasoline on himself before he went home so his wife couldn’t smell the perfume of his strippers: the punch line of the rumor had it that during one such explanation, one of his fellow Enron club-goers retorted “your wife probably thinks you’re fucking a gas station attendant,” causing Pai, in revenge, to ship him off to the far reaches of Canada. Of course, if he was hanging out with his lackeys at a strip club, shooting the shit with them, how mysterious could he really be?

The film does not make it clear whether the footage shown was of an actual club that Pai had visited or if it was just stock footage they had purchased. Alex Gibney, the director, does little elaboration during his commentary track: he seems utterly obsessed with trying to position himself as a music geek and sounds consistently tickled by the cleverness of his choices. He does remark on his selection of Philip Glass’ “Einstein on the Beach” and how he saw the interplay between it, the strip club, and Jeff Skilling’s belief in evolutionary biology. Then he pointed out that the breast implant was invented in Houston, as if that fact was the crowning piece of synergism in his argument.

For all the tsk-tsking the film does about “hubris,” it’s ironic that Alex Gibney’s own fascination with boobs disqualifies it from being played for many audiences. Not only does it become iffy for educational settings, but it almost has the tone of: this is for liberal people who go to far flung indy-film festivals; if you’re not hip enough to get past the boobs and just view them as wallpaper, you’re not cool enough to watch our movie.

Gibney knew he was safe from feminist criticism: a complaining feminist would have to admit that she thought the exploitation of women’s bodies superseded the importance of people knowing about why all kinds of middle-class people lost their pensions. The feminist critic who snubbed the film on account of Gibney’s strip clubs would look like a spoiled child, selfishly obsessed with her own “niche” issues.

On the other hand, it’s fairly safe to point out that anger at Enron is a non-partisan emotion. By taking the hipster pose regarding nudity, Gibney was purposefully alienating conservative viewers who could be best reached by the film, particularly with its footage of connections between Bush and the company’s top executives. Numerous critics have pointed that out, if only in the margins of websites.

One final note on Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room: much is seemingly made of the macho atmosphere at the company, not just the strip clubs, the Darwinian “survival of the fittest” mentality, and even the “extreme” adventure outings that employees took together, racing dirt bikes through bone grinding courses. Jeff Skilling had a phrase he spun about how he appreciated “men with spikes.”

What interests me—and I don’t say that lightly, I mean, I’m completely interested down to my last molecule right now—is how such gender treatments are so often used in media to give a pejorative view of something that people already have a pejorative view of. In other words, people hate Enron. If we show people that Enron was sexist, they will hate it more and feel safe and informed in their hatred for it.

However, even after seeing that bad things can be sexist and that sexist things can be bad, viewers still don’t have the power to see that sexism, itself, is bad.

I think “media people,” for lack of a better descriptor, are aware of that phenomenon. I think they exploit it. More on this from me in the future.

But really, how effective was the Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room from a feminist perspective if, immediately after viewing it, one self-avowed Leftist blogger wrote:

Jeff Skilling was right about one thing

As much as I despise Enron and injury they perpetrated (although employees could have saved their retirement through diversification!), Jeff Skilling was right about one thing. I also like men with spikes. No, this is not a gay metaphor. It means that men should be men. We should be extreme and we should pursue until we kill or are killed.

Ever see those older men at the mall whimpering around like a castrated dog while they wait for their wives to finish trying on clothes? Kill me if I ever lose that much direction.

The first comment on the post was from a conservative rival who called him a “pussy” for being against the war on Iraq. The blogger called him a “pussy” back.

Everyone seems to love Ugly Betty. It is fun. It’s bright, bold, and shiny: so much so that many of the liberal themes—from immigration to homosexuality and transsexualism—are made palatable even to conservative audiences. There’s something to be said for that, it’s no mean feat, but Leftist issues are only marketable when they’re liberal issues, no capital letter to be found. After all, ABC attempted to give the show a shot in the arm by creating a “Be Ugly” campaign, daring women to be themselves, just like their precocious Betty.

Of course, ABC didn’t invent that sort of pseudo-feminism, the kind where a mammoth broadcaster can act like an equal partner to a nonprofit like Girls Inc., they were just following the lead of Dove and their “Campaign for Real Beauty.” As a male, it’s perhaps too easy for me to dismiss that sort of thing as insipid; I do understand that to even see something like that is a welcome bit of respite for many women, even if the capitalism behind it is amongst the worst sort of crass: clumsy, obvious crass.

The show centers around Betty, the unflappable assistant to a young publishing scion, Daniel Meade—a playboy trying to make something of himself in the family business, only to have the rug pulled out from underneath him at every turn, like an oversexed Charlie Brown. Betty guides him through his various crises and teaches him valuable lessons between his relapses into superficiality.

His latest crisis is having committed rape.

Of course, the show is quick to point out that it is only statutory rape.

Not real rape.

More like rape on paper; paper rape.

The story goes something like this: Two fashion models, ostensibly from Eastern Europe, claim to be sisters when they show up at his office for no discernable reason. Somehow hours pass, day becomes night, evidently they just talked for six hours, and a set change is needed. They show up at a club. He takes one home with him and as she showers after sex, the other barges in and starts making demands: it was her 16 year old daughter he slept with and she will ruin him if he doesn’t give her child the desired cover shot. A key part of the crisis is that, thanks to his brother-now-sister’s machinations, he no longer has the power to deliver that cover to his blackmailers.

I don’t know how the story will turn out. Not exactly anyway. But I do know the broad strokes: Betty will save him. Somehow she will placate or shame the mother into submission. She’ll restore him as editor-in-chief of the magazine and he’ll be able to sweep everything under the rug. Maybe Betty will get them deported and they will all pontificate on how ironic and tragic that is, with Betty’s own father facing a similar fate. Maybe she’ll tell Daniel to piss off and he will learn his important life lesson and tackle the situation himself. There will be a surprise twist. Maybe the girl is actually older and both she and her mother are really from Kansas and are faking the accents.

Whatever happens, it will be in an episode called “Petra Gate” (after the name of the underage model), the “gate” nomenclature now standing for scandals that, well, really aren’t all that scandalous. They’re silly things, based on technicalities. You know, just like statutory rape.

One of the Desperate Housewives people likes to tell a story about how “The Network” objected to him showing a character smoking after sex with her under-aged partner; he questioned their priorities if they had a problem the smoking but not the “statutory rape,” the punch line to his anecdote.

Certainly, it plays out differently across various configurations of gender—and antifeminist men certainly do like to joke on their Fark.coms about hot female teachers getting away with molesting their male pupils, and how unfair it is that male teachers are punished more harshly—but Ugly Betty seems to be wading into especially dangerous territory.

It wasn’t lust that sent that 16 year old girl into Daniel Meade’s bed. That was made quite clear. Because she was complicit in her mother’s blackmail scheme, viewers are expected to think the worst of her: and thinking the worst means that she consented to sex, even if that consent was ultimately as a high-end prostitute.

And many viewers do think the worst.

One fan’s reaction on her blog:

“Totally uncalled for from the guy who runs to her at all hours of the day and night with every little problem, but I guess that’s Daniel for you, and he really starts to regret it when he finds out he’s been trapped into a statutory rape situation and his only choice is to put a (rather unattractive) underage Russian model on the next cover. As if Wilhelmina and Alex(is) didn’t have enough ammo.”

“Rather unattractive?”

I guess only good people are invited to “Be Ugly” in the world of ABC.

Much more sympathy abounds for Daniel.’s write up is plain about it (Tracie Potochnik):

“And what is meant to be a fun night for Daniel also turns into a nightmare, as he inadvertently sleeps with a sixteen-year-old model whose mother is angling to get her on the cover of Mode.”

He accidentally raped a girl.

It just kind of happened, like tripping on the sidewalk.

Inadvertently. Inadvertently is a word that obviates against consent, it makes it irrelevant: Daniel himself didn’t consent to sex, it just happened, like the grass growing or the wind blowing. As such, he was the victim in all of this, even though his life as a philanderer is predicated on the idea that he is a wealthy and powerful figure while his conquests, by definition, are not. (While the show reversed that paradigm once, with Daniel being taken advantage of by a character played by Selma Hayek, her character, while powerful, was presented as a gold-digger, much like the young model, in order to keep Daniel the sympathetic party.)

And despite him existing in some sort of parallel world to the very idea of consent, the villainy of the girl assures audiences of hers. Of course she wanted it, she has to want that sex, if she also wants the money and fame that she doesn’t deserve—not as an “unattractive model,” anyway.

Thank you ABC and Ugly Betty for showing us once again that rape is funny.

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