The international adventures of a singing, dancing zombie queen.

Saturday, July 17, 2004

I am NOT a prostitute!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

       So, my neighborhood has a lot of prostitutes.  And I understand that I dress unconventionally.  But I also carry a neon green Nalgene bottle, and a large bag.  Now, perhaps I am being classist, here, but prostitutes in my neighborhood do NOT carry Nalgene bottles of any color, nor do they have bags.   But for some reason, their seems to be some confusion about the fact that I am NOT a prostitute.  Maybe I need a big sign on my bag.  Although that probably wouldn't work.   And, honestly, I am sick of being made to feel afraid in my own neighborhood, or in fact in any neighborhood.  At all hours of the day.  Sick of it.
  So here are my two most recent reasons to celebrate being a woman.  Whoo hoo.
      On Tuesday night, I was walking home from BART after dance class.  It was after 10pm, and dark, and I was wearing a big, baggy sweatshirt with my dance tights underneath and chunky shoes.  A large, trashy, white hooptie pulled up via a cross street, and honked at me multiple times in a sloppy shave-and-a-haircut sort of way.  I had already passed the intersection, so I ignored it, kept my face forward, and continued walking.  So Mr. Trashy Car turned the corner and pulled over about 20 feet in front of me.  He tooted his little horn song again, and leans over to his passenger side window.  I ignored him again and continued walking.  He said something that I didn't hear, and then drove off down the street.  
   Unfortunately for me, he happened to stop at the mini mart down the street.  I saw his car parked as I walked towards it, and there he was, crossing the street towards his car.  He felt that it would help his cause to tell me to come over, because according to him, he'd treat me right.  I ignored him, crossed the street to my left, and then began crossing the other street.  He had gotten in his car, and turned left so that he could drive right in front of me as I was crossing.  The purpose of this was apparently to give me a dirty look right in the eyes.  I guess he wanted to teach me a lesson about being a pretentious whore. 
     As if this weren't enough for the week, the next day I was walking home again, this time in the sunny, bright late afternoon.   I was waiting for the light to change at that very same intersection when I heard someone say hi to me.  Suspicious of this as I usually am for the above mentioned reasons, I turned my head slowly, and pretended to look at the fast food restaurant across the street.  There was a guy on a motorcycle waiting for the light to change.  The motorcycle was blue, and he had a matching suit and helmet.  I had giant black sunglasses on, so I stared forward with my face while trying to see if I knew him out of the corner of my eye.  Apparently he thought I was checking him out.  The light changed, and I crossed the intersection, convinced that he was a complete stranger.
    He also traversed the intersection, and pulled over in down the street on my side.  By the time I walked by, he was still trying to take his helmet off.  He said 'hello,' and 'how are you.'  I said nothing.  He asked what I was doing, and since he seemed more friendly than creepy, I -regretfully- responded.  I didn't look at him, I didn't turn my head, I didn't slow my pace.  But I did, like a complete moron, mumble, "walking home."  I hadn't meant to say "home," and so mentally hit myself upside the back of the head.  He asked me to come over, said he just wanted to talk to me.  I didn't respond to this, and continued down the street.  He drove off down the street and turned left. 
    For a moment, I felt kind of sorry for the guy; maybe he felt a little embarrassed about not having gotten his helmet off in time for me to be able to see his face properly.  This was some short lived sympathy. 
    As I got to the end of the next block, I saw his motorcycle parked on the corner.  My chest tensed up with anxiety.  He was again struggling with his helmet, so I ignored his additional pleas to come over and talk to him, and marched more quickly down the street.  I could hear his voice behind me as I walked.  I walked a little bit faster, trying to look unscared, busy, and expected somewhere.  Secretly I was freaked out.   How much does it take for a man to notice that you are ignoring him?
   When I turned down my street, I saw him from the corner of my eye.  He was still following me. My heart started pounding.  I moved quickly into the open corridor of my building, grabbing my keys from my bag, and letting myself into the stairwell as fast as I could.  I pulled the door closed and locked behind me as hard as I could, with both hands, cursing the mechanism that keeps it from smacking you in the behind.  I heard his voice in the corridor, begging me to talk to him.
     Safely behind the door, I whipped out my cellphone and called my housemate upstairs, to ask him to come out to the balcony.  I didn't want to be seen on my floor, and wanted a large man to be seen with me, at least; what else could I do; I didn't want to hang out in the stairwell until I thought he was gone...

    We told the police who happened to be outside about the fact that this stranger had followed me onto my property.  He followed me home, and came onto my property without any invitation.  With me starting to walk faster as he came nearer.  Honestly, I was terrified. 

    So, now, there is a proposition up for voting in the legalization of prostitution in my area.  And I can't say that I disagree with it.  I imagine that most conservative women who have a problem with this idea think that it would cause them more trouble as women in society.   But I think it would be helpful.

       If we had state-run brothels, we could lower the transmission of HIV.  The state could be responsible for enforcing testing in order for a woman's license to be valid, and provide free condoms.  Sex workers could be protected from abuse, and not have to deal with abusive pimps, like the one who offered me a "new weave" and then called me a bitch when I wouldn't tell him my name. 
       This also took place just a couple of blocks from my house.  And I did have a weave at the time.  But that doesn't mean that he or any other man have a right to know my name.  Nor do they have a right to get a smile out of me, or a hello in response to them, or a thank you for their unwanted comments on my body.  Nor a right to lie to me, telling me that I've dropped something just because they want me to turn around so they can see my walk again, as did the guy on the street today.
    If we had state-sanctioned prostitution, there would be a place where unwanted advances would be appropriate, and therefore they would perhaps be less likely to bother random women on the street.   Perhaps there would be more respect for women who do sex work.  She would be a woman with a specific job that she does at a specific jobsite.  She would be a woman with a profession instead of an object that is always available for use.  Not to mention the fact that men could take care of their sexual needs when they need to, without bothering women on the street about it ...

      I would be interested to know what the cultural views on women are in places like Amsterdam, where prostitution is legal.  Are my guesses correct about men treating women on the street more like humans and less like objects?  Are prostitutes treated with more respect than they are here?  Are HIV transmission and abuse less prevalent?  Does the government get enough revenue to help support education?  Do the police have more time to worry about violent crime?  Is there less rape and less stalking?  Somehow, I think the answer is yes. 
       But perhaps, what the more useful question to ask is how the locals treat sex-workers in Nevada.  Do the people who have had time to become used to having legal prostitution as a part of the structure of society have less negative attitudes surrounding sexuality?   Is the culture in small cities moving towards a more respectful opinion of women, and a more sex-positive society?  It's a lot to ask, I know.  It will be a long time before this country gets anywhere near as accepting of sex as Europe.  But perhaps this is a way to start; by making a big step towards removing the taboo about sex, instead of it being some hidden secret whose stifled angst women are supposed to bear the brunt of.  But I'll keep hoping.

  Oh, and by the way, I am NOT a prostitute.  Damn it.

Saturday, July 10, 2004

What's Wrong with America?

"And how many more of these stinking, double-downer sideshows will we have to go through before we can get ourselves straight enough to put together some kind of national election that will give me and the at least 20 million people I tend to agree with a chance to vote for something, instead of always being faced with that old familiar choice between the lesser of two evils?"
- Hunter S. Thompson, "Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72," January 1972

Last night, curled up under my fluffy down blanket, I saw the smartest man ever on TV. His name is Thomas Frank, and he just wrote a book called "What's Wrong with Kansas?" The book is about how the middle class in Kansas screw themselves over by voting Republican because the New Democrats have abandoned what the old Democrats used to stand for such as economic help for the middle classes. Frank proposes that the problem with America is that now everyone votes on cultural issues, such as abortion, prayer in schools, etc., and middle-class Midwesterners tend to be Conservative on cultural issues.
Now the New Democrats are only different from the Republicans on the subjects of culture. Both parties now (since Clinton,) no longer vote to support healthcare, retirement, unions, and other economic issues, but instead let themselves be dragged under by the riptide of power-money. Democrats used to be the party that supported economic equality. But since they no longer vote in favor of Unions, nor protect people's retirement, middle class Midwesterners feel totally alienated by them; these folks are Christian, and Pro-Lifers, so even though the Republicans screw them economically as well, at least the Republicans agree with them on cultural issues.
Of course, none of the Republican conservatives are actually making any headway in that realm, either. Frank cited the judge who put the ten commandments in front of his building. There was no way that he'd be able to get away with that, he must've known, so Frank posits that the judge did it in order to rally his supporters.
The funny thing is, as far as I'm concerned, that if Republicans stand for small government, then their platform of cultural conservatism is contradictory to that plan. It seems to me that America should have the least legislation making it legal to force Christian philosophy, prayer in schools and Creationism on people's minds. The freedoms of religion and thought were what the Constitution was based on; those are the rights that should, by now, be inaliable and beyond discussion, or at least beyond additional legislation.
The function of government should be to maintain the equality promised by the Declaration of Independence through the economy, so that huge companies don't abuse the middle and lower classes. But, according to Frank, these days politicians have an aversion to being seen as involved in class wars. This, he says, is because of the Republican construct of 'the perfect Free Market System' which doesn't in fact exist.
According to the polls cited by Frank, if you ask people, "would you like to be represented by a Union in your workplace?" 40% of people say yes. If you take out the red-flagged (because of the Republican construct) term, "Union," and just ask people, "Would you like to be able to negotiate with your boss and have some say about the way that your workplace is run?" you get 90% of the people saying that they would. Yet, these days, we have the lowest Union membership we have had in America since the 1920's. People are again being fired for trying to start Unions, because the penalty for companies that do so is so small as to be inconsequential. Back in the 1960's, there was 25% Union membership, but now we only have 8%. And, according to the polls mentioned above, that isn't what the people actually want, but just that they're either scared of the businesses that they work for, or brainwashed into thinking that Unions are somehow unpatriotic.
Sadly, if the Republicans continue to brainwash school systems into teaching kids to memorize instead of teaching them to think for themselves, there doesn't seem much chance that people will begin to think outside of the Republican construct and demand that the government protect their economic rights.

Thursday, July 08, 2004

gore is my friend Posted by Hello

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Moore mad Thompson, please

Well, here I am at work, bored out of my mind. It’ll be another one of those nights tonight, if I end up getting laid; one of those nights where my inner eyelids flash pictures of spider solitaire at me while I’m trying to come. All of a sudden, I’ll have made some move that releases all of the trapped cards, and everything has become crystal clear and then whammo, convulsive orgasm. It’s kind of like having advertisements pumped into your subconscious.

I shall now extrapolate on Hunter S. Thompson, and how he should be an icon to us all.

Of course, everyone is so totally wrapped up in Micheal Moore right now… Not that I have anything in particular against Moore; I value his accomplishments, and his ability to be able to catch the attention of the blinded masses, even if it means occasional dumbing-down and generalization. But Hunter S. Thompson; he really did get down to the truth in his gritty surreal way… And perhaps it was too much for people, and that’s why he didn’t become the idol that Moore is becoming. Sure, there, too are generalizations of character and activities. But they leave you with a cathartic lump of wrath in the pit of your belly instead of a feeling of impatience with the simplicity of the argument. Thompson generalizes to get at the intestinal constipation of anger at a seemingly uneffectable administration. Moore generalizes so that the stupid people can be in on the joke.

One of the most beautiful things about reading Transmetropolitan (graphic novel by Warren Ellis,) is that the City, despite being a fragmented, junkie pile of shit, is also a great fan of our Thompsonesque character, Spider Jerusalem. Despite the extremeism and filth and carelessness, there is a beautiful amount of hope there; Spider is disgustingly popular as well as the happy recipient of many death threats. Because of his rhetoric, people are interested in the truth that government and capitalist corporations thrive on by propagandizing into shiny green fields. His audacity is so saleable that people listen to him even when he goes about cranked out of his mind and destroying their comfortable faith-machines. That, I think, is the glorious bit of humanity that we lack in this age. People are quite happy to masturbate to the propaganda of advertising in Transmetropolitan, but have enough taste to appreciate Spider Jerusalem’s wordage and therefore let him force feed them the facts behind the scandals and controversy. But here in real America, it’s taboo to speak of things that are being hidden; doing so is referred to as “offensive” or “unpatriotic”. Somehow we ended up with special word connotations specifically to form the backbone of our country’s denial of uncomfortable truths.

Certainly, the censorship of speaking against those in power has always existed. Surely, everything was censored while there were shortages in printers. It would be the wealthy investors who would censor according to their likely gains before the government had to concern itself with what was being printed. It’s nice that we now have Farenheit 9/11 as a blockbuster instead of an underground pamphlet or the slips of paper as presented by Martin Luther.

But then again, people who gain power will influence the formation of society’s mores. And perhaps the madness displayed by certain speakers of the truth comes from their (possibly subconscious) desire to not be saddled with the very responsibility that they see lashed by greed and denial… So a bit of craziness will avoid the masses giving them the hierarchy’s post-mortem crown. But all too often, it is likely that the same human weaknesses that the soothsayer was unable to gouge out of his already much-mastered self, are the same faults that the society carries on. Sure, Luther convinced people to have a vernacular bible so that the Catholic Church couldn’t continue to pull the wool over people’s eyes as easily, but he certainly didn’t help anyone’s civil rights.
And who would get to read that bible, anyway? It’s not as though everyman could read; one is still only speaking of the elite. And elitism continues…
Now, one might therefore whine about the pessimism in H.S. Thompson's writing, which is far from subtle. Thompson and Jerusalem both are ripe with a disaffection for the world; as far as their writing claims. But the fact that they write so viscerally and emotionally, with so much venom; it belies the many exclaimations of contempt. But the masses simply take this on as a new trend of hatred for the sake of charisma. Instead of reading subtextually or even thoughtfully, they simply ride out the cheap emotional excitement. You’d think that they’d be able to follow the example of examination and thoughtfulness displayed for them. A writer’s lucky if he can get even a fifth of his message into the minds of the masses with enough facts that they could explain it to others. And that is where Moore gets my vote, even if he does have to dumb things down.

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Dance & Fitness Faculty member at San Francisco Peninsula Community Colleges, Director, Choreographer & Featured Dancer, Founder of the Living Dead Girlz, and Owner of the Steele Dance Company, which provides entertainment for festivals, corporate events, conventions and private events. Teaching private dance lessons and creating choreography since 1997, Steele graduated from the University of California at Berkeley with a Double Major in Dance and Comparative Literature and completed her Master of Fine Arts in Dance and Choreography at Mills College. She has toured all the major cities in Germany and performed at the Cannes Film Festival as the featured dancer in TRIP -- Remix Your Experience, a multimedia exhibition of film, live music and art. Steele has also performed as a featured dancer for RJ Reynolds (CAMEL) promotional events. Steele currently manages the go-go dancers of "Poor Impulse Control," who perform frequently in San Francisco's industrial, alternative, and rock venues.