Dichotomies, admittedly, tend to be deceptive. Like gay vs. straight: hardly anyone is decisively one or the other, without nuance. Or male vs. female: we’re all finding out (belatedly, many of us) that that’s false. Neurodiverse vs. neurotypical: nope, again with the spectrum. But they’re so convenient to think with!
This is something that drives me crazy about my boss: she thinks in black and white (often black vs. white), and one is always better than the other (not different: better) and you’re doing a disservice to your students if you see it differently.
(A fun happy hour with colleagues once involved hyperbolic escalations of how we’ve ruined everything with our bad teaching choices; my favorite was, well, great: now [school] has lost its accreditation because of this, just so you know.)
(It’s funny because it’s based in truth, helas.)
Rich vs. poor.
My rich friends want me to come up to their house in the Hamptons this weekend. Our mutual DC friend is going (she of the delightful Miami trip of a few months back).
I have some good arguments against going: it is a five hour trip, basically, by train – and that’s assuming I take the Acela [expensive fast train], which I probably won’t – and I’ve got a shit-ton of work to do this weekend so I’m ready to teach on Tuesday. And I can’t really do it all now, because the new semester’s training session isn’t until Friday, so I won’t know all the changes, and understand how they will impact my plans, until that’s done.
(I will commend the Powers that Be on getting our course websites put together in reasonably good time; usually we only get them a few days before the semester starts. This time I was informed that they were ready to go on Friday afternoon – that’s more than a week to play with setting them up to my liking!)
I’m worried that their arguments are better, though: namely, they’re moving to London at the end of the year for who knows how long, and this will probably be the last chance to see them at their fancy beach
house mansion for a while.
(They spent $150,000 just on the design plans. Although maybe that’s not expensive? I don’t know how much it costs to design a house.)
(And, to be fair, the land itself was in the rich friend’s family – her father’s family had a little modest cabin on it – but then again I think they bought the lot next door to build their tennis courts, so… yeah.)
(Yes: they have tennis courts. Plural.)
I admit that I have a real problem with wealth. I am judgy and impatient with it, and find displays of it off-putting and insulting. But these are old friends, and they are basically good people…
I’m still deeply disdainful of the rich friend’s husband choice to stick with his green card and not get citizenship in order to avoid paying taxes on all his family’s wealth, which I think is gross and selfish. But, again, there are no hard and fast lines, and we all make the choices that make sense to us in our context, and sometimes those choices don’t make sense to people who don’t have all the information.
Yet and still.
But who am I kidding, I’ll probably go. For one thing, the rich friend is exceedingly pushy when she wants to be, and it’s easier to give in than resist.
And of course it will be glorious and ritzy, and I will feel a little icky, but I will enjoy good company (and excellent booze – they are always well stocked with excellent and free-flowing booze) and I know I will come home more happy than not.
I know I haven’t been especially prone to engaging with the world around TDP for a while now, and have been mostly on about personal concerns and what-not, but I am interested in these Trump statues that appeared last week, and the responses to them.
So, if you haven’t heard, some anarchist artist collective put up statues of naked Donald Trump statues in several cities (New York, Seattle, LA… three or four others) (not Phila, alas — bringing out my requisite Phila-chip-on-shoulder: what, we’re not good enough for yous and your art? Well fuck yous! We don’t want your art anyway!) and they are, shall we say, not flattering. I don’t feel like embedding images, for various reasons, but I am positive that google will do you right on this front: the interwebz are full of pictures of these statues.
But I will describe them: the statues depict an unflatteringly aging man, with small buttocks and a spare tire and looming paunch, with blue veins showing through in various places, with the trademark atrocious hair and arrogant mug, and, most saliently, with a very small male member, and with no balls.
When I first came across the story, I thought it was funny, and payment in kind, in a way: he talks incessantly about women as if we’re only there to be observed, and only as valuable as they are beautiful (by his narrow, nasty, boring standards) – ‘she’s a dog’, ‘she’s bleeding out of her wherever’, ‘she’s no longer a ten’:
(Props to Heidi Klum for having a sense of humor about that nonsense, and giving it the middle finger it deserves.)
In short, I had a hard time feeling bad for Trump for being ridiculed for his body.
But a lot of people came out pretty hard against it:
And I see the point. It may be momentarily fun to publicly remind Donald Trump that he hardly registers on the ten-point-scale-of-attractiveness, but…
Doug Muder, as he often does, encapsulates the problem neatly:
I’m of two minds about this, and I’m glad to hear that the sculptor is a Gary Johnson supporter, so Democrats have nothing to answer for. Slate‘s Christina Cauterucci sums up the anti-statue position:
Encouraging people to laugh at the statue of Trump because it’s fat, wrinkly, and small-dicked doesn’t tell them Trump is a bad person. It tells them that fat, wrinkly, and small-dicked (or transgender, or intersex) people are funny to look at and should be embarrassed of their naked bodies.
Like many of Trump’s own insults, the statues are “demeaning, gratuitous, and don’t say anything worth saying.”
I’m not sure I agree with that assessment, though, because there’s an ongoing debate among anti-Trump people about whether to respond to him with fear, anger, or laughter. The statue clearly comes out on the side of laughter; which is a point worth making. (Though I agree with Cauterucci about the collateral damage to people who share the statue’s supposedly risible features.)
As for the offense to Trump himself, what standards of decency are he and his supporters playing by? If I could identify any, I’d happily grant him the protection of those standards. But it gets tiresome to follow rules and uphold standards when your opponents don’t.
(Quotes within quotes!)
So there’s another dichotomy lost: it isn’t always obviously okay or not okay to make fun of even the worst people.
Goddammit. It’s like the world is incredibly complicated or something, and everything is compromise.
But I’ve got only three more quilt blocks to do on the blue quilt, and a new absurd David Wong novel to get further into, so I guess we’ll call that a night.
Where do you stand on the Trump statue, though?
Oh, and how could I possibly not include the New York Parks Department’s statement about why they removed it, because [potential trans-shaming etc aside] it is golden:
NYC Parks stands firmly against any unpermitted erection in city parks, no matter how small.