Archive for the ‘Population’ Category

Let’s Go Out Past the Party Lights
March 29, 2008

If I had a woman, I’d play this Tom Waits’ re-make for her.

If I had to live in the suburbs, I’d pick North Massapequa, former home of Christine Jorgensen, who was the world’s first publicized sex change star.

If I had to live in North Massapequa, originally settled by the Native Americans of the Algonquain language group, I’d choose a house ten minutes from the ocean and the Wantagh nature trail.

If I had to live ten minutes from the ocean, I’d explore the vineyards of Long Island and take the LIRR into Manhattan every other weekend.

If I had to read up on such “surburban” living, I might go here:

This fascinating study of the suburbs of Long Island, New York (and by analogy, those across America) arose from the authors’ daily commute from Manhattan to SUNY Old Westbury, which is near Levittown, one of the earliest and perhaps the most famous of American suburbs. Initially they had imagined suburbia “as an anaesthetized state of mind, a no place dominated by a culture of conformity and consumption.” Their research quickly taught them otherwise. While Picture Windows does document a growing obsession with middle-class consumer goods, like the televisions that came with 1950 houses at Levittown, it disrupts the myth of suburban serenity to reveal “a rich and stormy history” of political and social conflict. The planners and visionaries of suburbia, as the authors attest, tried to create a place “where ordinary people, not just the elite, would have access to affordable, attractive modern housing in communities with parks, gardens, recreation, stores, and cooperative town meeting places.” Shunning the “snobbery” of cultural critics who deplored the “neat little toy houses on their neat little patches of lawn,” Baxandall and Ewen find much to celebrate in the burgeoning suburbs. Most of those who flocked to the new towns had been crowded into city slums during the depression and war; they never questioned the architectural conformity of the suburbs, but only rejoiced in the chance of owning their own brand-new homes, places empty of anyone else’s memories and rich with potential. Picture Windows is a quintessentially American story, told with skill and conviction. –Regina Marler

Or here:

Le Corbusier’s vision of the future had come true: “The cities shall be part of the country; I shall live 30 miles from my office in one direction, under a pine tree; my secretary will live 30 miles away from it too, in the other direction, under another pine tree.” What that vision omits, of course, is the 5 or 6 million people in between, each with his or her own pine tree.

“…you are brilliant and subtle if you come from Iowa and really strange and you live as you live and you are always well taken care of if you come from Iowa.” Gertrude Stein, Everybody’s Autobiography

Or Brooklyn, or Baltimore, or Buffalo, or Stone Mountain, or Massapequa, or, or, if.


3 Responses to “Let’s Go Out Past the Party Lights”

  1. Gary Says:
    January 7th, 2008 at 9:37 pm eWhile you’re on the topic, don’t forget Candy Darling, who lived for a while in Massapequa Park.
  2. Jim K. Says:
    January 8th, 2008 at 5:41 pm eThe move made. Hopefully a lot of
    commute drag is gone from life.
    Seems a bit like Cape Cod, at least
    the low, gradual part. Been for a shufti or two,
    looks like. Nice place!
  3. Amy King Says:
    January 11th, 2008 at 7:07 pm eCandy Darling! I didn’t know!

    It’s a lovely area, though not as busy to the naked eye as Brooklyn…


Analysis 101
March 27, 2008

Many of my students are required to watch the above youtube video, “A Girl Like Me”, among numerous others, as part of their supplemental assignments in my courses. Basically, I try to get them to begin analyzing by using the mediums they are most accustomed to, which include youtube and showing dvds of popular media in class. Some resist — these are the students who equate growing up in the “Information Age” with “knowing it all”. “Why do we have to ask so many questions?” And then there are the other students who suspect that they have inherited their belief systems from their parents and mainstream media and are longing for permission to question those values, especially as they become aware of the absence of a historical context for how those values came about. I aim to enable.

The video below, Ciara’s “Like a Boy”, is not assigned viewing; I expect they will have seen that one on their own. But the video did resonate with some recent comments Gloria Steinem made at Mill’s College last March. What follows are a few paragraphs I’ve excerpted from an article in the latest Curve Magazine, “Gloria Steinem’s Two Cents”, about her visit there.


–from “Gloria Steinem’s Two Cents” in Curve Magazine

The 73-year-old former editor and founder of Ms. magazine joked about her undercover work as a Playboy Bunny for a labor expose in 1963, saying that she is still introduced as a former Bunny and would not do it again. She added that while it was not a great career move, it was a feminist step forward. Steinem said that a story she would try to get out today is of sexual and labor slavery, which is “more numerous in form in relation to the current population and the world than it was in the 1800s.” She says that these forms of slavery are much larger, more damaging and more profitable than the drugs and arms industries.

On the greater number of women who attend college today as an indication of living in “the best of times,” Steinem responded that the numbers partially reflect women who are now in college because they weren’t able to attend before. The audience responded with mumbles when Steinem added, “There are all these studies that show, like the famous valedictorian study, that women’s self-esteem goes down with every additional year of higher education–because we are essentially studying our absence. It took me over 20 years to get over my college education. I don’t think we can make easy assumptions.”

Steinem also took Mills to task for their own survey, in which its students (all female) revealed their regard for feminism as an “elitist movement, that it only represented white upper- and middle-class and largely heterosexual women.” Steinem argued the opposite: “The women’s movement is factually, actually, the most inclusive from every point of view– from race, class, sexuality, ethnicity, language –movement that this country has ever seen,” she stated, remembering the 1977 National Women’s Conference. “[It] was probably the only truly representative national political meeting the country has ever seen. In 1977.” Furthermore, Steinem argued that to label feminism a white, elitist and exclusive movement “wipes out the history of women of color who have been the pioneers of the women’s movement always.”

Dr. Candace Falk, director of the Emma Goldman Papers Project, about the radical first-wave feminist, at UC Berkeley, said, “What I think is very interesting about [Steinem] is her ability to listen and to change, and to become one with her political analysis, and her sexual analysis, and her understanding of the world, of hierarchies, of capitalism–of all the ways in which things converge to put women in the lesser place–but also have a larger view of a kind of world that would include all of us.”

–from “Gloria Steinem’s Two Cents” in Curve Magazine

5 Responses to “Analysis 101”

  1. Mr. Horton Says:
    August 9th, 2007 at 2:03 am eThanks for “Girl Like Me.” Very powerful stuff.
  2. Jim K. Says:
    August 9th, 2007 at 5:27 am eGreat to have just for looking.
    YouTube is getting to be a key resource!
    There really ought to be a YouTube//Lib. Of Congress
    project. Or someone. Buying up rights if necessary.
  3. Emmanuel Sigauke Says:
    August 9th, 2007 at 4:16 pm eI started using YouTube in class this summer and what an amazing resource! Most of my students used it as a tool to present on their research projects, and that worked for a summer writing class.
  4. Nic Sebastian Says:
    August 9th, 2007 at 9:09 pm eGot a great kick out of both videos — thanks!
  5. Amy King Says:
    August 10th, 2007 at 4:08 pm eWelcomes all around!

This Is Not An Indictment
March 27, 2008

For a few years now, I’ve used the 30-minute version of Maggie Hadleigh-West’s film, “War Zone“, in my basic writing course (excerpt above). I also used to work in Manhattan for about five years, and often found myself with a female co-worker navigating our lunchtime walks around construction sites or generally wherever men are known to gather, to avoid catcalling or worse. If we didn’t respond, the “compliments” immediately turned to aggression, “You’re ugly anyway” or “snobby bitches” & similar rebuttals to our silence. Hadleigh-West’s reaction was just the opposite of the standard: she took a video camera back in the early nineties and turned it on the men who, as strangers on the street, felt compelled to ‘innocently’ publicly appraise women’s bodies via a range of remarks. In turn, their responses range, as seen in the film, from curious engagement with the filmmaker to actual physical confrontation.

Now, I recently discovered that there is a movement in many cities called “Holla Back” – a flip on the urban street term, “Holla Back Girls” – that takes Hadleigh-West’s idea to the next level of engagement as a mass movement. The websites encourage women and men to use their cell phones to document instances of harassment and send it in with the accompanying story. I’d like all of my students who claim that ‘a polite compliment on the street is harmless’ to see that there is a context, an actual consistant level of harassment on the street that they are feeding into and that women deal with on a daily basis. The context affects our mobility and our sense of safety. The Holla Back New York City site has enough examples to line the garbage cans for years to come, especially for those who think such a harassment culture is a figment of our imaginations because you are not one of those who become aggressive.

Special note: This is not an indictment of men. This is not an indictment of you, particularly if you aren’t a participant in the public spaces of harassment.

P.S. I’m happy to see that Maggie has a new documentary film coming out, “Player Hater“. Looks revealing …


7 Responses to “This Is Not An Indictment”

  1. Timothy Caldwell Says:
    July 8th, 2007 at 10:46 pm eWhen I’ve called out men on the street for saying inappropriate things to women passing by, most of the time the situation becomes a confrontation, as if I attacked their manhood. I’ve had to squelch this impulse because one time it got me surrounded by a moving company worth of young men who decided that this “four-eyed faggot” should shut. They were not very polite. I’m embarrassed for my sex when I see men behave this way. Thank you for clarifying that you are not indicting men. At times, however, a good number of men act indefensibly bad.
  2. Rachel Mallino Says:
    July 10th, 2007 at 2:50 pm eIt’s such an act of dominance and the moment the hecklers are confronted they are shocked that someone would challenge that dominance. I was especially amused by the old dirty white men who seemed to become much more irritated when confronted than the others.

    I received your package, by the way, and it made my day!!! I’ve got something coming back at ya.

  3. Kate Says:
    July 10th, 2007 at 11:33 pm eI’m so curious how your students respond to this film. Is it difficult to keep the discussion fruitful and generative?
  4. Amy King Says:
    July 12th, 2007 at 9:05 pm eThanks for speaking up, Tim — every little resistance has its merits. Sorry the aggression turns on you though.

    Rachel, You’re most welcome!

    Kate, I get the regular person who feels they’re being attacked, usually because they hit women up on friendly terms only, so to speak. In fact though, many men and women tend to speak up against the defender, and on the whole, discussions have been fruitful. I can’t say that any have been primarily negative. I’m often surprised by how many women tend to speak up after the film. The worst that happens consistently is a guy or two will comment on how unattractive Maggie is, clearly missing the whole point. But I’m usually not alone in clarifying the point – actually, never have I been. It’s a worthwhile classroom tool for sure. I also use it in conjunction with a film called, “Tough Guise”, by Jackson Katz, which is an excellent documentary on many levels. You can discuss the way an argument is constructed and organized, how the evidence supports or illustrates the claim/s, etc. It is also a way into talking about how a violent masculinity is normalized and enforced.

  5. Corin Says:
    July 15th, 2007 at 5:00 am eI have a confession to make– I am male and I check people out, in all kinds of places. There is a fuzzy line, but still a line, between sexual harassment and appreciation of somene’s beauty. I stay on the latter side, I believe; I never make “catcalls”, etc. and if I do remark on the beauty of a woman, I don’t say it in earshot of her. But sure, if she passes and I turn my head around to look at her ass, what’s so bad about that?

    First: some women obviously want people to look at them, otherwise they will not dress in such a sexy way. That doesn’t make it OK to harass though.

    Second: I’m sure that as a woman you would not want all men to not look at you when they’re attracted to you, ever. If the kinds of looks are purely sexual, and you feel “reduced” to a sex object, you still might acknowledge that sexual attraction is part of life.

    Third: If you want the cute ones to be interested in you, then be sure that the not-so-cute ones are also going to be interested–the old, the fat, the dirty, etc.

    I am getting tired of people who complain of “dirty old men” who probably are as clean as the rest of us, who simply happen to be “old” (age discrimination?) and still have sexual interests. It’s as if being old and having a sexuality were something to be ashamed of.

  6. Amy King Says:
    July 16th, 2007 at 8:40 pm eNot sure where you’re getting the “dirty old men” reference in here, or if you’re just bringing it in, Corin — but you’ve pointed out the distinctions that no one is disagreeing with; there’s a big difference between leering and saying things to women in public, and covertly or subtly checking someone out. I imagine we all agree that each human is curious about the other, and in some way, sexualized or not, checks others out. The problem enters when strange men in public feel free to act, verbally or more, towards other women in a way that makes them uncomfortable — what we call the “unwelcome” approach, I suppose. In the south, we say hello to folks on the street regulary, but women are often subjected to that moment when the friendly hello becomes something of a pursuit that they did not invite, thus putting them in the position of saying no or worse. Of course, there are also social settings where the approach is more expected such as a bar scene or party, but that’s not the same as walking down the street in a culture that becomes increasingly violent when women don’t respond in the affirmative. Subtely checking out? Yes, expected. Trying to get a date or some sort of rise from strange women? No, not welcome at all in most cases. Save it for the “pick-up scene” or a friend’s blind date set-up, etc.
  7. Corin Says:
    July 18th, 2007 at 7:20 am eI am glad that you can see where I am coming from. I think I mentioned the “dirty old men” because it was apparent in the movie, and I had already overhead some fairly young (25 or so), saccharine-sweet, really privileged-looking woman talk disparagingly about men who hit on her who are not of her preferred age and class status.

    I am sorry that my comment came a bit defensively. I recently also had a female friend complain about being harassed in her neighborhood. I also believe that the problems of having been rejected or ignored, which results from not sufficiently fulfilling women’s definition of appropriate “masculine” roles, leads men to express their hopelessness in gender relations by acting in this way.

    I also think that most of the time when you may hear such remarks, they’re made by the same small percentage of men while the majority are standing by without necessarily intervening, because it would reveal themselves as “faggots” or whatever.

    Either position isn’t acceptable to me, but I do not know what I would do if I were in a position where I was trying to maintain my masculine advantage due to sexism; for street credibility or at Wall Street. Luckily I am the person I am, and will not have to state my opposition to people who have long been my neighbors, coworkers and friends.

I Don’t Have Kids
March 26, 2008


And it doesn’t look like I’m going to have them anytime soon. I can live for me, me, me, which means I can consume, consume, consume! Maybe I’ve got a good fifty years left on this planet, so should I be concerned with the condition I leave it in when I’m stardust? I’m not leaving any personally-birthed people behind. And yet somehow, I continue to wonder why it seems I’m more concerned with what’s happening with the environment than people who have children — I really, really don’t get why news items regarding the threats against breathable air and the dramatic rise of asthma and allergies in children don’t seem to strike a chord of even remote interest, let alone fear, in our gas-guzzling SUV-driven country. It’s truly baffling. Aren’t parents invested enough to at least research the plausibility and hazards of that term, “Global Warming“? These two little symptoms I mention are just the tip of the iceberg. For a brief display of the top ten global warming stories of 2006 that will affect your children’s lives, take a look at this.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not blaming parents – maybe trying to incite a little, but I’m not pointing any real fingers. Everyone is responsible; we are a communal species that shares the same life-sustaining planet. So why won’t our government step up with the rest of the planet now and take action? Because our economy might take a hit? Perhaps it’s time we all learn to do with a little bit less, particularly those with vested interests in big business. “The United States, with less than 5 percent of the world’s population, produces between a fifth and a quarter of the world’s emissions, according to government data” 1. If you learned that you or your children were slowly being poisoned through the drinking water so that we would become ill in fifteen or twenty years, even dying as a result, I bet we would all be up in arms, demanding the U.S. government take action, locate the source of the poison, and eliminate the threat – immediately. We wouldn’t wait for a projected date of fifty more years for a possible fix. I’m no alarmist, but friends, this is not an outlandish possibility.

Why does the Bush administration continue to vote in favor of profit while dancing around — and then giving the finger to — first the Kyoto Protocol and now the G8 proposal? Is the rest of the world wrong, including Britain? Are we that pompous? Ignorant? Flagrant in our sense of superiority? Can we continue to blatantly share our poisons with the rest of the world, disregarding their effects, so that we might remain the top economical power? Do we care that our children will reap the hazards of our apathy?

After the last election, even Christian evangelicals felt betrayed by Bush, who seems to be truly faithful only to those whose stock reports papered his campaign trail. Now, the Christian right is teaming up with scientists, both groups tolerating their differences in beliefs for what they now see as a moral issue rather than a political one. And yet, Bush continues to play monetarily-motivated politics with the future health of this planet. Are we going to let him carry on? Will our next president return to business-as-usual after the campaign promises fade? Between the pressing matter of Iraq and the long-standing neglected cooker that is global warming, we can’t afford to sit around waiting for someone to take the reigns and guide us. One of the people who has been at the forefront of getting Christians and scientists to come together on the matter, E.O. Wilson, has a few things to say on the matter that might motivate you (FYI – population growth factors in heavily too). As you become more informed and gear up to get your political voice in tune, there are also things that can be done in the present and in the midst of your daily movements – some practical suggestions found here and here.


My grandfather was an entomologist, whose specialty was ants. Likewise, E. O. Wilson is too:

Say you’re president. What’s your environmental agenda?

New, sustainable energy generation, new forms of transportation, conservation of natural resources and general improvement of the quality of American life with a simultaneous reduction in per-capita consumption of energy and materials. The president who exercised that kind of leadership would ensure his or her legacy for all time.

Somehow that doesn’t seem likely from any president, let alone a Republican.

Last spring I was invited to speak at one of the leading conservative think tanks, and I asked two questions: What is the core of conservatism if it does not include conservation? And why have the conservatives needlessly and destructively abandoned the moral high ground on the issue? We had a lively discussion. They essentially said the liberals are blue sky, they’re big talkers and dreamers, whereas conservatives are problem-oriented, practical people who keep the wheels turning and the world on course. But they’re not solving this problem. Too often they don’t even admit that the problem exists.

–from Salon

If atheists and the God-fearing can get on board, why can’t the dreamers and conservatives find that same common ground? It’s high time we figured out how.


p.s. Water? Do you and your children actually need it?

“Also, fresh water is declining around the world, with many of the aquifers scheduled to give out in the next several decades. The forests, estuaries, coral reefs, river systems and, increasingly, even the oceans are being either destroyed or seriously degraded.

The experts on natural resources around the world are in pretty much complete agreement that the world population as a whole is running down arable land, and the trend shows no sign of being reversible.” –excerpt from Salon Interview with E.O. Wilson


5 Responses to “I Don’t Have Kids”

  1. Jim K. Says:
    June 2nd, 2007 at 3:29 am eI get worried that the success of our
    boom-or-die economical (stock) system works
    because it taps into the warm-blooded, always-hunting,
    energy-intense animal. That means it taps deep…addicted for eons.
    But there will be serious reminders soon that we are running out
    of it all. The efficient must thrive, not the intensive. We need a scheme
    that drives that.
  2. Jim K. Says:
    June 2nd, 2007 at 3:32 am eBTW, if we really screw up the Earth and perish in big quantities,
    we will do what only the blue-green algae mats did when they
    loaded the oxygen into the air and poisoned themselves.
    Creepy to think that our aggregated smarts was no better
    than algae mats. They had the excuse of no brain.
  3. Sam Rasnake Says:
    June 2nd, 2007 at 3:38 am eStrong post, Amy. Thanks for this.
  4. SarahJ Says:
    June 11th, 2007 at 4:12 pm eHi –
    like your blog. i was reading with interest the anne boyle post, and then came down to read this. thanks.
    I was at the zoo this weekend and was glad to see people with children and babies because I remember when I had children it made me way more concerned about the environment and the future. I was pretty environmentally conscious to begin with, but kids brought it home to me like nothing else.
    yes, babies are being born like crazy, and mostly in countries where they think they can’t afford to make concessions to the environment if economic growth is at stake. it’s complicated and tetchy, because it’s hard to go somewhere like Africa and say, “well, you guys haven’t hurt the environment much over the past 200 years, and we have but please lay off all polluting activities right now.”
    if you don’t mind, i’m going to link to you.
    best, sarah
  5. SarahJ Says:
    June 11th, 2007 at 6:27 pm eboof, sorry, anne boyer!