by sylar's eyebrows

Things That Make You Go, "WTF?!"

Good morning, folks. I hope your weekend was better than mine. I've got some caffeine and a bit of a rant brewing.

It is, of course, an election year and therefore everyone and their mother is sticking some appendage into their mouth or talking out of their ass.

By now you've probably heard about Republican candidate Todd Akin's outrageous and egregious claim about "legitimate rape" not leading to pregnancy. If you didn't, allow me to inform you. The Missouri nominee for a senate seat said,

"From what I understand from doctors, [pregnancy as a result of rape is] really rare. If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let's assume maybe that didn't work or something. I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist."

Oh, sweethearts and dear ones, I don't know where to start with this one. Okay, that's a bit of a fib, I know exactly where I want to start, but I understand that some of you may not want to get into politics. That's fine. Those of you who do...let's get together after the jump and dive into the cesspool that is Horribly Stupid Soundbytes from Political Figures!

*Possible trigger warning. We will be talking about rape/sexual assault. 

Okay...for one moment let's forget that this is even about abortion. Okay? We're not going to talk about pro-choice/pro-life, ultrasounds, birth control or women's rights. We're going to focus solely on this gem of ignorance brought to us from Mr. Akin.

"Legitimate Rape"  What in the bloody blue blazes of Satan's scrotum constitutes "legitimate rape"? Here's how I understand it: Person A makes an unwanted sexual advance on Person B. Person B makes it known through physical cues or a simple "no" that these advances are unwanted. When Person A presses the issue and forces sexual activity to happen... this equals rape.

I know that our society likes to muddy the waters by taking pages from the Blame the Victim playbook. Rather than educate our youth that rape is wrong, we're telling our girls not to leave the house dressed like sluts. We're conditioning more women who will internalize assault as their fault and therefore be less likely to come forward. It does not help when judges let known rapists go because they feel the women were asking for it. It's true. Click the link and be prepared to calm your gag reflex.

So, is Mr. Akin saying that "legitimate rape" is one where a woman is ushered off the street into a back alley and violated by a stranger? According to Rape Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN), nearly 60% of all reported rapes are committed by someone the victim knows. Does Mr. Akin feel that "date rape" is a sketchy area because clearly the woman wanted to be with this man, therefore, she can't possibly have been "legitimately raped"? I'd like to know what the would-be senator feels on this matter, but he hasn't clarified this statement. (Sure, he's walked it back and tried to weasel out of it, but he stayed away from explaining this particular phrase.)

Rape is rape. If Person A is told NO, but continues anyway? Done.

"A Really Rare Thing" Mr. Akin seems to be focusing on the idea that getting pregnant as a result of sexual assault is akin to finding a four-leaf clover. (We'll get to his reasoning why shortly, believe me.) But, there is some factual basis to this part. The US Department of Justice estimates that 5% of one-time unprotected sexual encounters will end in pregnancy. That's rather low, to be sure. There are many factors that may contribute to or skew this figure--particularly when trying to apply it to incidences of rape or incest--however, RAINN estimates that in one year, 3,204 assaults (out of the nationally reported 64,080) will end in pregnancy.

The frightening thing about RAINN's statistics, however, is that a woman is more likely to get pregnant from an assault than her attacker is to spend a single day in jail.

"...ways to shut that down..."

This is where Mr. Akin's statement takes a turn for the wacky and truly terrifying. While yes, we women are graced with a body that does amazing things in the nether regions, I think Mr. Akin gives a little too much credit to the feminine mystique. According to his statement, I've got a vagina rigged with trip wire, laser sensors and high explosives that James Bond couldn't get into with all the help from Q. And if he did manage to Mission: Impossible his way in there with his secret agent sperm, I'd have my uterus on lockdown faster than you could say Pussy Galore.

Look, it doesn't work that way. You see, a woman has no natural failsafe. Any college co-ed will tell you that we cannot will ourselves to Please God Don't Let Me Be Pregnant any more than a man can make one big boob by smooshing both of them together. We are not so in touch with our strange and mystical ovaries that we can make them stop the presses.

Funny thing: we all learned this in school. Biology class is nifty. Granted that Mr. Akin comes from the generation of "put an aspirin between your knees" birth control, but I'm pretty sure he went to school before No Child Left Behind started to dumb down the masses.

Akin says that he got this information from doctors. Unless those doctors are the same high school girls who think that you won't get pregnant if you have sex in a pool, spin around 3 times and bark like a dog after he comes... I'm dubious of Mr. Akin's sources. I'm betting they look like that guy up there.

At least he finishes off with a bang, that cooky Mr. Akin. He says that if our wily vaginas don't manage to purge the invader semen, the rapist should be punished. That's fantastic. I'm glad he's on our side. (See above reporting statistics and the average that 97% of rapists walk free.)

There Should Be Some Punishment Here's the thing: Would-Be-Lawmaker Todd Akin is right. There should be some punishment. Rapists should be held accountable, women should feel they can report these attacks without the blame-the-victim bullshit that inevitably ensues and we should live in a world where a football stadium full of people are not assaulted every year. However, there are these roadblocks standing in the way of that utopia. They're called "politicians". Redefining rape, trying to package rape and abortion, using them as wedge issues and ammunition in an onslaught against women's rights... Yeah, to put it bluntly, they suck. And there should be a punishment for that level of stupidity. It's fine to be that ignorant in the privacy of your own home, but when it affects my uterus, you're done.

It reminds me of John Waters (filmmaker of such cult classics as Hairspray, Cry-Baby and Pecker). He once said that if you go home with someone and you can't see any books, don't fuck them. I think we need to impose a similar rule in politics.

So, here's what I want you to do.

If you think that Akin and other such people seeking office on a platform that spews ignorance and outright lies.... Don't vote for them. Period. Don't let this shit into a position of power. If he doesn't have a grasp of 4th grade biology, he doesn't get to play with your rights or money. Savvy?

If you aren't sure, you're still on the fence and want to see what's what? Pick up a book. Educate yourself. Scour Google for hours and use reputable sources, not just Wikipedia. Feed your head with knowledge, then, once you've done that... Don't vote for this shit.

If you agree with Mr. Akin and think he speaks gold-plated gospel... DON'T VOTE. Period. It's your civil right to vote, sure, but if you're completely off reality and scientific fact in the process, you've ceased to live in our country and now inhabit the same plane as unicorns, snozwankers and vermicious knids. Feel free to blow bubbles into your chocolate milk and fuck some electric sheep, but please, don't screw up my reality because you've abandoned it.

Nerdmaste, my friends.

EDIT 8pm, 8/20 - Two things have been brought to my attention since I posted this this morning and I wanted to give them a place here. 1) A dear friend of mine made the comment, "No doesn't mean no. No is implied until removed." This is an excellent point. She went on to explain that the burden of consent should not be on the victim, yet that is where we place it. She finishes off her statement saying that if there is already a blanket consent--for example, in a pre-existing relationship--it is up to the "victim" to communicate when sex is off limits. I think she's got an amazing point when it comes to where we place the burden of consent. It's something to think on.  And 2) Someone shared this open letter to Todd Akin by renowned feminist and writer Eve Ensler. Read it. Have kleenex handy. --jw

Backwards and In Heels

"Sure [Fred Astaire] was great, but don't forget Ginger Rogers did everything he did backwards...and in high heels!" -- Bob Thaves  So this might get ranty at times, but I'd like to throw my two cents into the ginormous piggy bank of this discussion. Women on book covers/movie posters...particularly in the urban fantasy genres. This comes about because Tor.com posted an article about that pose. I posted it on my Facebook page and someone asked me what a "good pose" would be and advised me to show my work. Well, here we go. It's not a new observation. There's the video that compares urban fantasy book covers. In January Jim C Hines did the iconic blog post where he tried to mimic the covers of popular books just to show how ridiculous women are portrayed. We also learned that insulin ports are sexier than tribal tattoos. Then a blogger named Anna took it a step further, imitating the same poses and those of men on similar covers. Please go check out the latter two links if nothing else. While highlighting a problem, they are wickedly funny.All joking aside, though, there is a trend in they way women are posed on book covers that pisses me off. Now, romance covers have their own tropes. Bodices splitting, shoulders bare...whatever. Those books are somewhat exempt from what I'm about to tear into and here's why: Urban Fantasy prides itself on having Strong Female Protagonists. There are whole message boards and websites devoted to amping up women's roles in books, bringing them to the fore as role models. We don't want female characters that are shoved into men's situations. We don't want wilting flowers or smoldering vixens. We want women. Real. Strong. Capable. Women. I say this as a reader, a writer and a woman. We need stories with women being themselves unabashedly, stories where her femininity isn't highlighted. You wouldn't praise Harry Dresden for accomplishing so much while also being a man, would you? Then don't do the same thing to Dante Valentine. Women need stories where our gender kicks ass, takes names and maintains herself throughout the arc. We need for that woman to be taken seriously.

These covers completely undermine that last part. I'm sorry, I can't take a woman seriously if she's supposed to be fighting demons on rooftops if she's wearing skin-tight plastic and stiletto boots. I want strength, not a firm ass. By objectifying the heroine on the cover, you've already changed the narrative in a very subliminal way. It tells me that above all things, I should value her sexuality, not her dedication, her ferocious nature or her skills.

For example, DELIVERANCE by Dakota Banks features an Elektra knock-off in an impossible pose and clothing that is straight from the goth club on a Friday night. At least her hair is braided. Because when you're fighting off evil, there's nothing worse than having to blow your bangs out of your face or stop to tie up your hair.

FORGED IN FIRE by J.A. Pitts is another one that bothers me, but in a different way. On this cover, our heroine looks like a badass! Platinum blonde hair. Shaved sides. Reasonably realistic clothing choice for a warrior against the damned. WHY ARE WE FEATURING HER ASS?!?! She's got a fucking sword and a hammer on her hip. The look on her face tells me that she could rip out my throat with her teeth. Let her be fierce, dammit! Do not ruin the effect by sexualizing her!

GRR!!!

So, gentle reader, you may be wondering what I see as a good choice for a cover in the genre. Well, it took some looking, but I found some urban fantasy covers that I think maintain feminine integrity without objectifying the heroine.

SHAEDES OF GRAY by Amanda Bonilla. While we still have a variant on The Pose, this one doesn't make her ass the focus. She looks strong and ready to slice anything that twitches. She doesn't look like she is waiting for the first incubus she can find to shag six ways from Sunday.

Natasha Hoar's THE STUBBORN DEAD. On this cover, our heroine wears leather for a practical reason: she is riding a motorcycle. Dangerous, attractive, smart, capable. Based solely on the cover, this is a woman who has her shit together. I'd read it.

Armed. Dangerous. Lovely. Katniss Everdeen in another life, perhaps?
Caroyln Crane's MIND GAMES. Our heroine is dressed sensibly without being frumpy. She's got a wicked knife and the pose is one that is realistic. Solid cover.

 Michael R. Underwood's book GEEKOMANCY just released its cover last week and it is the hotness. We've got an attractive woman (albeit in one of the other stock poses) looking like she could be equally at home playing D&D or as an extra for The Craft. No nonsense, sexy librarian look? Yes. Witchy undertones? Yes. And in the center we've got a D20. I will read this.

It is possible to put a woman on the cover of a book without turning her into a prostitute. So why don't people do it? Why do we keep using the same dumbass tropes on our covers? And while I know it's probably asking for a lot, could we please have a plus-sized cover model? Just once? I'd love to be able to cosplay someone without saying, "Oh, I'm the fat version of ___." (Which is one more reason I love Alexia Tarabotti from Gail Carriger's Parasol Protectorate series.)

And men, I realize that you guys have your share of ridiculous cover art as well. But, the above mentioned Jim Hines posted a spectacular blog on the topic this very morning. Feast your eyes and don't drink anything while doing so. Wouldn't want you to kill a monitor from snarking your chai.

So what about you? What do you think about book cover poses? Share some of your favorites in the comments or point me toward the ones that just make your eyeballs curdle with shame and despair.

Until then,

Nerdmaste.

Stompy Boots

Hello, my loves. I come to you today not with silliness or heartwarming tales of my home life. No, today I come to you with a certified, 100% pure, uncut Wahine-style rant of the ages. Oh holy shit, I'm primed on this one. Allow me to just tell you right now: THERE WILL BE PROFANITY. Lots of it, probably. I've been incensed and I'm ready spit fiery porcupine quills in the general direction of this woman's face. Lace up your boots and come watch me kick in the teeth of a festering boil on the ass crack of humanity. So, today's rant comes to us from Liz Trotta, a contributor on (shock and awe) Fox "News". Either she's a satirical artist who just needs some time to hone her craft or she's a fucking nutjob.

So, the Pentagon recently reported that sex crimes committed by army personnel has gone up 64% in the past six years. A statistic bandied about in the Pentagon's study said that in 2011 every 6.5 hours, a US soldier committed a violent sex act. This is higher than the civilian population rates and is based on the 3200 crimes that were reported for that year. Considering how many sex crimes go unmentioned...? Yeah. Staggering numbers. The wording is a bit sketchy, but I believe this number pertains specifically to the assault of military service members by their peers. Soldier on soldier abuse. Security measures are being taken to protect our servicemen and women from these crimes, but they still happen. According to the Pentagon's numbers, domestic abuse and child abuse in the homes of US army personnel is on the rise as well. Initial reactions by officials are that the soldiers with PTSD are more likely to resort to violence.

Now... I look at this report and I see a few things that jump out at me.

  • First and foremost, we're not taking care of our military when they come home. I know from the experience of friends who fought in Afghanistan and Iraq that it's no picnic. Period. You do the best you can with what you're given. When they come home, though, we're not taking care of them. Our soldiers need mental and physical support on the homefront to deal with the hell they've been through while away at war.
  • The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are taking their toll on our people in ways that are kept in the shadows.  We think we're safe on this shore. No, we don't have car bombs or riots in the streets. There aren't rockets blowing up fifty yards from your office. But we're not okay here. We are not unscathed.
  • Gender is not specified, so it can (and does) go both ways.
So, are we all on the same page? The soldiers that have been giving up their sanity, homes, jobs and families (you know, the parts of their lives that aren't just biological processes) to go thousands of miles from home to sit in a desert where things explode all around them and people shoot at them all day... yeah, those people... anyway, they're turning on one another (at home and overseas) and on their families when they get home. (**Please know that when I say, "they", this is an obvious generalization. Not all soldiers cope with their demons in the same ways. Some have tremendous support networks even if the government doesn't provide it to them.**)
When Fox "News" ran a piece about women serving closer to the front lines, they turned to pundit Liz Trotta (the previously-mentioned object of my unholy wrath) to weigh in on the subject. She brought up the Pentagon's study in her interview. What was her reaction as a professional and as a woman? Let's take a look. Let's let Liz tell us what she thinks about this horrific insight into our failure to take care of our troops...
Let's just distill that to its finest point, shall we? "What did they expect?" Seriously? Fucking seriously? Oh, Liz, where do we begin with the myriad ways you've proven yourself to be a daft twat? How about this...?
FIRST of all, you've taken the Pentagon's findings and immediately made assumptions that women are the victims. Now, while that may be accurate, it is, at this point, an assumption on your part. Poor journalism on your part. Strike number one.
SECONDLY, you have just joined a sad group of our society that looks at sexual assaults and automatically assigns blame not to the criminal but to the victim. I don't care if you're a man, woman, gay, straight, lesbian, child, or a purple snouth from the planet Kuzbain: If you say 'no', and someone forcibly brings harm to your body, you are a victim. And there's a stigma to the word, but fuck that. Bad things happen to people and when they do, they shouldn't be harassed about it to add further insult to injury. A victim's emotion and stress and need for healing is valid. Period.
Also, along this same point, let's not forget that sexual assault is not an act of sex, it's about control and will. This pisses me off to no end that our society--Puritanical and strangely bent on sexualizing everything--still sees rape as something that must involve a penis, and therefore, must be solely about that most taboo subject that is sex. It's not. Sex crimes are about taking. The rapist isn't stealing a stereo or mugging someone for extra cash, nor are they just trying to get off. No, a rapist s/he's actively seeking to rob someone of their control. *That* is currency. A dominance of will. It's a power thing. Sex crimes involve terrorism and physical violence. Either Liz Trotta has had the good fortune to never have experienced a sex crime (first hand or through a friend/family member), or she needs a few rounds of therapy to help her with the self-loathing she's got going on.
Seriously, Liz, you're going to sit there with your face hanging out and tell me that a woman who wants to serve her country by laying down her life to take up arms... you're telling me that she should expect that rape or assault comes part and parcel with her oath? Fuck. You. Regardless of gender a person should never be told to take rape as just part of the job. It's like the shit argument of "well, when you go out looking like that, what do you expect?" That doesn't jive in the military population since everyone's wearing the same thing and it's not all flash and short skirts. And it doesn't flow in the civilian world, either. Why? Because there is this thing called respect for others. We shouldn't be teaching our girls that a bright shade of lipstick and a low-cut blouse are an invitation to be raped, we should be teaching everyone (boys and girls) that no means fucking no! Respect. Self-responsibility. Liz, you've just joined every jock on every 80's after school special who grinned and drawled, "She was asking for it." Fuck. You.
THIRD: You're bitching that this is a web of red tape strung up by feminists just to spend your tax dollars on helping women who've been raped? Seriously? Liz is bitching about feminists and that's fine (masochistic, but fine). However, could someone triple check me on something? Go look at the video. In the sidebar within the first few seconds, her credentials slide by. It says that she is the first woman to cover a war for broadcast  news. Gee, if you don't like feminists, maybe you should head back to the kitchen, put on your lipstick and start making a sammich. Turn over that journalism degree from Columbia. Stop taking royalties on those books you've published. Just shut up like a good little woman and use the 19th Amendment for a tampon.
FOURTH! (and this one burns me up...) She says that pressure from feminists has built this web of bureaucracy to "support women in the military who are now being raped too much".  Oh, fuck, where do I start with this sentence? Like it's such a sin to support women. Let's pass that for a moment and move to my favorite part... "support women who are" what? Being raped too much. Too much. Because once should just be overlooked? As if it's like hot dogs where there's an acceptable about of rat shit that can go into the food before the FDA gets pissed. What the fuck is this!? Let's just say this in nice big letters that everyone will be able to read:
IT SHOULD NEVER BE ACCEPTABLE TO RAPE/ASSAULT SOMEONE!
And then, (FIVE) the Fox "News" anchor actually stands up for lady soldiers, agrees that women need support and protection and what does Liz do? The cunt sneers and laughs! When a FOX NEWS anchor has to tell you the difference between right and wrong, you've got issues. AND THEN (six), she digs the hole deeper with this gem:
"That's funny. I thought it was the mission of the [Armed Forces] to defend and protect us, not the people who were fighting the war."
Holy shit, you want to talk about a sense of entitlement? Listen, you crotchety old bag of lipstick, your logic here is severely flawed. I'm not sure if it's the senility settling in or brain damage of another sort, but allow me to educate you on a few things. A) Yes, the Armed Forces are there to defend the country and its citizens. B) That's not funny. Not at all.   It goes like this, Liz. We don't conscript our soldiers from slave populations. We don't outsource them like your tech support team for your iPhone. Our soldiers are us. They're your neighbors, they teach your grandchildren, they sit across from you in church. They have just as much to fight for--if not more--than you do, you fucking hag. Do you know what they've sacrificed? Do you have any earthly clue what the soldiers and their families go through in the name of "defending and protecting" you?
In case you haven't noticed it a camp in the middle of Afghanistan isn't exactly luxury accommodation. When your husband is gone for months at a time and you have to be both mother and father to your children during that time, it's not something that lands you on the cover of Vogue. If you're lucky enough to have your spouse come home with all limbs in tact, what about their mind? Have you ever had to kill someone Liz? Have you ever had to duck and cover because a missile hit the building less than a football field away? Have you had to watch a friend die or hold his organs in his body while waiting for help? Have you had to raise a family alone because your husband is serving his country?
I know for a fact I couldn't do it. I couldn't be an Army wife like my friend April. I couldn't be a soldier like Sgt. Tydings. I couldn't do it. It takes stones and it takes sacrifice to wear a uniform for your country. They deserve honor and respect, but you've just raised your voice with the others who make our wounded warriors feel like it is truly a thankless job. They deserve ticker tape parades and more, they deserve your gratitude. But you laugh instead. You snark off.
And now you'd take dignity away on top of that? Go to Hell, lady.
Fuck off, Liz Trotta. You're a disgrace to journalism. You're a horrible woman. You're a pitiful excuse for a human being. Shut. Up.

Back to Back Pain

As friends and long-time readers will know my struggle with back issues is a tale of vitriol and Vicodin. After 7 years marching drumline, a lifetime of shitty posture and various poor choices in office chair, I slipped 2 discs in 2008. A pinched sciatic nerve and the intense pain resulting therefrom led to a few rounds of physical therapy, four spinal injections, two MRIs, and a pharmacy in a pear tree. I was on a ton of painkillers, muscle relaxers and for months I couldn't function like a normal human being. I couldn't walk without a cane. I had to sit out on one Sin Aesthesia performance, step down from performer to emcee for another and do a lackluster poi routine for the final hurrah. I'm not going back to that--especially since the last time I spoke with my doctor he said that if I *did* have a relapse, I would be staring down the barrel of my first spinal surgery.So that was 2008. It sucked. I am mostly recovered with a bit of residual nerve damage down my left leg and the occasional tweak of pain. So last week, whilst walking to pick up my daughter from school, my legs started cramping...my calves started to go pins-and-needles numb, and my lower back began to ache in a very familiar way. Fuck.

Part of the problem is that routine has changed about fifty times in the past few months. Another problem is that I've got a desk made for a person with short legs and I'm an amazon. Another issue is that my desk chair from hell gave up the ghost so I've been making due with a metal folding chair and a throw pillow for a month. My lower back is beginning to complain about the state of its union with my SI joint, the nerves around it and thus, my pain receptors. Before it gets critical, I'm backing off where I can. And that means not spending hours at the desk. I've got a workhorse laptop that I use at times like this. It has no internet. No bells and whistles. Just an older version of Windows, Microsoft Word and a smile.

If I want to finish this book AND have a healthy back, I can't sit at this desk in this chair. I can't afford the desk chair I want/need at the moment. So that means, less internetting.

Blogging can still happen with a thumbdrive, yes, but if I'm on the laptop I'm working my tail off. So, dear readers, just be aware that for my own health and sanity I may be blogging less frequently. Trust me, I paid off those damn medical bills and I don't want to start fighting that battle again. Can't afford the meds, the MRIs, the PT or the mental fog that comes with being drugged to the gills for pain. Can't do that again.

Love you all.

Nerdmaste.

EDITED TO ADD: So, apparently my workhorse laptop has decided to call in sick today. Something is wrong with the start up and the little clit-like-mouse button (what the hell is that called again?) is not working. Seriously, Monday, it's time for you to fuck off. 

 

Words. Words. Words.

Nerdmaste and happy Friday to you all, my lovely readers.

Today I bring you a rant about something near and dear to my heart: Words. This week I've seen multiple conversations talking about language. Chuck Wendig, Tommy Pluck and others were having a debate on Twitter about profanity in writing, particularly crime fiction. It's been fun, enlightening and has opened up new possibilities in the world of four-letter-words. Not long after this, a post on Facebook made me cringe at someone's use of a euphemism. And thus, a rant formed and now I am sharing with you my personal thoughts on language.

Buckle up.

It shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone that, as a writer, I am fascinated by words. At the heart of my interest is rhythm. Poetry, prose, conversation...it all flows. Our words create their own rhythms and even the most mundane comments when spoken aloud can ring with authority and grace simply because the right words were used in the right order. I love the way an accent can change the rhythm, the pronunciation or even the word choice. It's mesmerizing. Beyond this, though, is meaning. We try to pack centuries of human experience into tiny letters and then expect those definitions to stand up to an ever-changing landscape. When 7 billion people live and experience the world in their billions of ways, words will take on new shapes and meanings not just from epoch to epoch, culture to culture but from person to person. Hell, even a day can change the way a single word impacts you. For example, one day you're walking across campus without a care. The next you're in a hospital shivering after a sexual assault and from that moment forward you have a visceral reaction to the word, "rape". Words are slippery chameleons with their own emotions charged into them for every person who uses them.

Words have baggage. Some words are reviled and avoided due to the genetic/societal memory of how they were once used to objectify, enslave and dehumanize. Slurs and epithets carry wars and atrocities in their little letters. Some words are seen as "bad" due to notions of propriety. What is illegal on television is acceptable in some movies and music. You wouldn't tell a nun you've had a shitty day but you might say it to a friend, teacher or a waitress.

Words have a time and a place. In writing, word choice can tell you a lot about a character. Do they use taboo slurs? Do they curse? Do they consistently misuse big words or abuse grammar? Do they use contractions or drop the g's off of the ends of -ing words? By the way a person talks, you get a sense of who they are and what their experiences have been like. The words can show us more than the character tells us.

So when someone tells me that I say, "Fuck" too much or that "goatfucker" isn't acceptable when referring to my satyr character, I'm going to pick a fight. Look, I spent 7 years in a drumline with some of the most foul-mouthed, disrespectful budding misogynists you could find. If I spoke a second language fluently it would be "Fuck". Is it base humor? Does it pander to the crass? Possibly, but it's a word! Crass or no, it has value. It's rhythm. It's more than just a euphemism/slang for fornication, it's a percussive sound that can punctuate anger, frustration. It can add gravity to a statement. It can act as any part of speech and it can be modified in so many luscious ways.

I am an acolyte of George Carlin, Mr. 7 Dirty Words himself. He says it better than I could ever hope to in his book Last Words, but the gist is that language is so rich and diverse! It's amazing how squeamish people get when you say "cock", "cunt" or "piss" instead of tamer synonyms like "penis, "vagina" or "urine". You might think that Carlin didn't respect the English language because of how much he chose to inhabit its darker corners, but that couldn't be farther from the truth. Carlin, like me, loves language and words. He, too, was fascinated by not just words and their rhythms or meanings, but also the reactions words incite!

Profanity has its place in the world and it's not just at the back of the class room or in the poor neighborhoods. Profanity can be glorious! (Profanity can also be used to try to mask poor writing. Do. Not. Do. This.) Look at Christopher Moore's books. He takes Shakespear's King Lear, tells it from the Fool's perspective and gives us "Fuckstockings!"** It's beautiful! (If you haven't read Fool, read it now. I'll wait.)

On the flip side of this is a trend to avoid perfectly "normal" words. Yes, there's "political correctness" and I think that's bullshit, but what I'm talking about is more subtle and annoying. Euphemisms have their place. As a friend said, "You wouldn't say, 'I'm going to the lavatory to defecate.'" There are so many ways you can communicate that thought and unless you're a cyborg you're not going to be that clinical about it. You don't have to go vulgar and say you're going to "take a shit"...there are perfectly good alternatives that are socially acceptable.

However...the one that really pisses me off and makes me shudder every. damn. time I see/hear it used:

AUNT FLO
 
Why the fuck do people do this? Seriously? Why is this a thing? No, I don't expect everyone to say, "menstruating", but what is wrong with just saying "period". It's something anyone with a 5th grade education should know about: Every 28 days or so a female who has been through puberty will shed her uterine lining (blood) unless a fetus has implanted there. A woman has a period. Period! Why the fuck can't we just say it that way?
Look, I know it can be an uncomfortable subject, especially for men. (Trust me, it's more uncomfortable for us than it is for you. Sack up.) When I was a teenager, my dad would get a little squicked out by me just mentioning it. Well, how do my dad and I deal with discomfiting things? Humor. I then referred to my period as "a visit from Stephen King" (or just Stephen King). This made light of the ick factor and was a way that a teenaged girl and her bachelor dad could talk about an awkward subject. I get that.
Also, I know there are other terms used as more of an insult.  "What's wrong with her?" "Oh, she must be on the rag." In Clueless, "riding the crimson wave" was kinda funny. But "aunt flo", "monthly bill", "visitor" all that shit? Come on. Don't pussyfoot around it. The word you're looking for is period.

Words have power. And I think this is why shit like the above bothers me so much. By taking a very acceptable word for something that is a natural, biological process and stuffing stupid euphemisms in its place, we belittle the process itself. Because we feel shame and discomfort at the word, we feel shame and discomfort at the act. Call me a bitch (and I better deserve it) and you're insulting me. Refer to all women as bitches and you're saying something about yourself right there. This goes for racial slurs as well as labels like "faggot". You're disrespecting an entire group of humans.

So often we like to think words have black and white meanings to match the text on the page. They don't, though. And they never will. Words are constantly evolving like the societies that use them. Words are malleable and conform to the needs of the time. You never just "read" a book. You imbibe a series of ideas and experiences because these words flow with their own life. Words are astounding. Use them freely because they are yours. Remember to also use them wisely.

**Throx.com sells "Fucksox" with the Christopher Moore font. It is Fucksox Friday! All proceeds go to MS research. Just sayin'.