As the lovely and talented Mr. Scalzi has pointed out, BlogPulse has posted a Top Blog Posts of 2005 list upon which we both appear — though my nominated entries were made on my LiveJournal, and not this page. I started to write a few words on this subject over at LJ, but it felt a little too “meta” for my tastes … and so I’ll do it here.
Neither of these posts struck me as being inherently news-worthy when I wrote them, and both were written in anger.
Stop Fucking Him.
My friends list did this one to me. There were two women who I’d been reading regularly for some time, and I had to drop them both because I was sick to death of feeling sorry for them. Their situations were similar – both women had several children with men they didn’t particularly care for. Both were primary (or even sole) caregiver for these children, and both were newly pregnant again. Neither of them had insisted upon birth control because their partner objected to it, hypothetically on moral principles. Both women were miserable with their status, and complained incessantly about how they didn’t want any more children, but gosh darn, whatdoyoudo?
I thought that the post was pretty self-explanatory, but it somehow prompted more misunderstanding and wildly incorrect interpretation than anything I’ve ever written. People emailed for days, calling me a baby-hater, arrogant leftist cunt, and hussy-slut (from one irate reader, hailing from the department of redundancy department). In fact I rather like babies; I think they’re swell. I might be a leftist cunt, but I prefer to think of myself as “direct” rather than “arrogant.” And obviously my desire for effective family planning means I intend to have sex with every pulse-producing penis-bearer, right?
Give me a break.
And forgive the hell out of me if I didn’t qualify the post with every possible footnote, disclaiming my message to anyone in a violently abusive relationship, incest situations, certain medical conditions, women who deliberately get pregnant to trap a man, void where prohibited, not valid in Alaska or Hawaii, some taxes or restrictions may apply, etcetera. I wasn’t shooting for an all-inclusive feminist manifesto; I was trying to compose a wake-up call to willing participants in the cult of poor-me-how-did-this-happen? victimhood.
Disjointed Thoughts on the Socio-Economics of Disaster
I was deeply furious about the state and federal response, and further insulted and aggravated by the (initial) media response — as you might be able to tell if you’ve read that particular essay. It quite literally left me speechless to watch the way everything unfolded. I simply could not find the words to talk about it. I wanted to shout, or scream, or swear and kick things; but no one listens to the hysterical woman raving on the street corner, so I did my best to pull something lucid together for the internet. I wanted to say what I meant, but I couldn’t bring it together, though. I still feel like the post is inadequate and sloppy, but I’m glad so many people responded to it. I’m glad it found an audience.
I am not from New Orleans, but I’ve been there quite a lot and I love the place. And even so, I am from the Gulf coast, and I’ve lived through half a dozen hurricanes in southeast Texas or Florida, and I know what it’s like to be there. I watched at a helpless-feeling distance as the government faltered, and I watched as ordinary, unofficial folks came swooping in to the rescue.
When the levees first failed, my first thought (as a native Florida girl) was – “They need to get some airboats down there, stat.” Airboats are light and powerful; they’re narrow enough to fit in tight spaces, and they don’t need as much consistent water depth as a boat with an outboard motor. They’ve got more space than canoes and (some) pontoons, and they were the obvious and perfect answer to the rescue clusterfuck that ensued. So when the first volunteers started showing up towing airboats behind beater pick-ups and backing up to the water line, I was thrilled silly. Here were the people who knew what to do – and look, there wasn’t a lettered-jacket official with a walkie-talkie among them.
[As an aside: I was particularly pleased and flattered to get a comment the other day from Robert Dummett, chairman of the safety committee for the Florida Airboat Association. You can go read his statement here, for his first-hand perspective.]
I did a follow-up post here, if you’re curious – specifically about the demographics of the people who came to help. And anyway, I think that’s all I’ve got left to say about that post. It still feels like it isn’t enough, but it was the best I could do at the time. I’m deeply grateful for the people who found it moving enough that they spontaneously donated money to the Red Cross, and I’m positively humbled by the distance that post eventually traveled. It was picked up or referenced by several newspapers, not to mention some of the best blogs on the web.
Still, it wows me.