The Bog:
sphagnum moss, dark water, and politics
Sunday, November 19, 2006
Crazy? I Was Crazy Once . . .

. . . they put me in a rubber - which one shouldn't pass out without any deeper context or conversation, or it will be degrading, to men and women. Right?

Ah - ok, maybe this needs a bit of context. The first part's an odd little middleschoolish chant; I can't find any mention of an origin, and it may be an actual piece of childlore (or an obvious piece of piece of pop culture I missed somewhere along the line?). There are various versions, some slightly more involved than others - the big perk, however, is that it's a loop, like the infamous Song That Never Ends.
Crazy? I was crazy once. They put me in a rubber - a rubber room, that is. I died there. Then came the worms. Worms? I hate worms! They make me crazy! Crazy? I was crazy once . . .
And so on and on potentially forever, slightly maddening world (or worms) without end. The version I know seems a bit unusual, at least going by googlesearch standards, in its mild graveyard gruesomeness (rats or even ants often replace worms, and some don't involve the addled narrator dying at all), and its touch of innuendo-ish misdirection. - But while I do find this genuinely interesting, it's somewhat of a delaying tactic. After all, I don't know to approach the second bit, which is seriously weird.

Over at National Review Online's The Corner, Kathryn Jean Lopez asks:
Does Anyone Really Disagree with This?
A Bush administration HHS nominee is getting grief for his involvement with a pregnancy center that believes: "that the crass commercialization and distribution of birth control is demeaning to women, degrading of human sexuality and adverse to human health and happiness." [For more on the kinda crazy-sounding and very crackpottish Eric Keroack - who as a chief o f family planning programs will be overseeing some $238 million annually in government grants that are "designed to provide access to contraceptive supplies and information to all who want and need them" - read for example Feministing,Pandagon, or Pharyngula. - DS]
Passing out contraception without any deeper context or conversation is degrading and disrespectful — to men and women. Tell me I'm crazy.
And of course, across the blogosphere - and not just the lefty part - folks have been happy to oblige, with everyone from Tristero to Andrew Sullivan joining in for a big "Ok - you're crazy! (Kevin Drum, quite characteristically, asks readers to tell him that he's crazy).

I can't quite agree, though. She's not crazy, it's that her thinking is, ah . . . disordered. And no, that's not just a quasi-snarky reference to the hopelessly-out-of-touch document about ministering to gay Catholics recently approved at the big bishops' meeting (although I believe she bases her view in that tradition). This kind of thinking really seems out of order, mis-structured, confusedly jumbled, broken. Granted, having lived a sheltered life, I've only recently realized that the anti-contraception crusade (U.S. version) consists of more than five people, and that somehow they're taken seriously by folks who can actually spell. Additionally, what's quoted above is the whole of her post, with no other context or explanation: as Kevin noted " she thinks it's inconceivable that anyone would disagree with this view of contraceptives." So I don't have all that much to go on, and the whole thing sounds like the garbled meanderings of a dead idea (then came the worms I hate worms they make me crazy) but I can try . . .

The first thing that jumps out is the infantilization of adult men and women, who - whether or not they can handle the truth - are assumed to be unable, somehow, to handle the idea of contraception without some sort of patronizing "context or conversation". Now granted, some people do have trouble with the mechanics and/or the fine details, which is why us reality-based folks generally support comprehensive sex education - but I doubt that's what she's talking about, and anyone holding her view is unlikely to support that.

The next? Well, it sounds a bit like that point on the 'attitudes towards sex' wheel where distaste/disgust and a sort of chastely flushed over-veneration meet (and occasionally mix - people are weird). The common ground is that sex is one way or other sort of taboo, outside and below/above actual daily life. It's something - especially the latter - that I tend to associate with a occasional phase - self-righteous and very innocent, and usually happening somewhere in adolescence - often tempered by eventual experience. Most grown-ups come to realize that sex is (hopefully) a part of life, an important/amazing/rewarding/ frustrating/deeply intimate/transporting/add any and all adjectives you feel might apply/ part of life, to be sure, but still a part of life. - I can almost hear Ms. Lopez complaining in outraged shock after hearing grown-up women talk frankly about sex (if she listens to teens, she might well swoon).

Or [this part added the next morning], she could think it's degrading to men and women because the passer-out is implicitly assuming that the passee might well at some point be having The Sex! Possibly out of wedlock!! And regardless, conceivably not for the purpose of procreation!!! Why this is supposed to be degrading, I rather (obviously) don't quite get. Certainly there are folks who don't believe - personally, or generally - in nonmarital sex, or even nonprocreative sex, and that's ok . . hey, it's a free country . . . but like Kevin said, she seems to be under the impression that everybody, rather than a small minority, actually shares her view. And given that the physical setting for this whole scenario appears to be family planning clinics or possibly pharmacies, it's rather like, say, a Orthodox Jew insisting that a restaurant offering bacon cheeseburgers is degrading to people, or a strictly traditional Muslim insisting that Victoria's Secret - or Fashion Bug - is degrading to women . . .

And this kind of condemnation isn't just about wild-n-crazy multiple-everything-sex-with-various-devices - it very much includes even contentedly-vanilla-sex-within-marriage. Which brings us to the religious aspects (are there any others?) of the anti-contraception crusade; for example, that same bishops' meeting I mentioned also produced another document, Married Love and the Gift of Life, which argued that "When married couples deliberately act to suppress fertility, sexual intercourse is no longer fully marital. It is something less powerful, less intimate, more casual" (original italics). Which of course suggests that this group of never-married celibate men don't just unsurprisingly fail to grasp the daily (and often economic) realities of grown-up life that they've been sheltered from, but also fail to understand all that much about marital intimacy. When a couple's deliberately act[ing] to suppress fertility 'cause of, y'know, the whole plans for a shared life together, it's not more casual, it's less so. -Just to approach this argument on its own premises. In the end, I can only understand this as, deep down, springing from the belief that sex is bad, but can be tolerated as a guilty pleasure as long as - and only as long as - it's carried out for its proper natural-law cause: makin' babies! (And of course the last part of that - that people having sex always have to be at least open to having babies is quite explicit; it's the the first part that seems to be scrunched down).

-But - throwing up hands - I really don't understand this whole thing (and I say this as someone who has been occasionally uncomfortable with the way birth control pills have been marketed, and does think there's various messages o' hypersexualization being sent by society that can, in various ways, be pretty degrading - if from different causes and for different reasons than these folks). I keep trying, but all I can hear are nonsensical ramblings; sterile, repetitive craziness . . .

crazy? I was crazy once . . .

posted by Dan S. on 9:36 PM | | link

what is a bog?
Definitions, definitions
1. ". . . one of North America's most distinctive kinds of wetlands . . . characterized by spongy peat deposits, acidic waters, and a floor covered by a thick carpet of spagnum moss." *
2. A relentless, hard-driving mix of political commentary, recipes, idle ramblings, and so on.

More about bogs here.

why "the bog"?
Something about the blog format made me think of spagnum moss slowly growing, forming layer after layer of peat deposits many feet thick, sometimes preserving (in Europe) ancient bodies . . . Also, it rhymes.

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Songs currently stuck in my head
despite all my best efforts

"My Happy Ending," by {yech} Avril Lavigne:
"Let's talk this over,
It's not like we're dead . . "

and "Laiska" by Varttina:
Laiska luotu laulmann
oikosormi soittamaan
yskin oita viettelen
unetonna laulelen

Toppling off the bedside book-pile:
Classroom Management for Middle-Grades Teachers , C.M. Charles & Marilyn G. Charles
Teaching U.S. History as Mystery, David Gerwin & Jack Zevin
Crossroads of Continents: Cultures of Siberia and Alaska, William W. Fitzhugh & Aron Crowell
Arctic Crossing: A Journey Through the Northwest Passage and Inuit Culture, Jonathan Waterman
Northern Tales: Stories from the Native People of the Arctic and Subarctic Regions, Howard Norman (ed.)
Life in the Cold, Peter J. Marchand
Wandering Through Winter, Edwin Way Teale
The Winter Vegetarian, Darra Goldstein

Teas of the week:
Tea of Good Tidings: Winter Fruit Blend,
The Republic of Tea
Russian Caravan,
Jacksons of Piccailly

on the web:
Land of links:
The American Prospect
Common Dreams
FAIR: Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting
The Nation
The Progressive
Washington Monthly

Organic Consumers Association
Eat Wild (pasture-based farming)
NOFA: Northeast Organic Farming Association
Consumer Supported Agriculture
Edible Wild Kitchen


Blogging away:
Vassar blogs
And yes, we've been co-ed since '69...
E's Den
Useless! Worthless! Insipid!

Other blogs
Alas, A Blog
Atrios' Eschaton
Body and Soul
Daily Kos
Digby's Hullabaloo
Dispatches From the Culture Wars
Echidne of the Snakes
Feminist Blogs
Interesting Times
Late Night Thoughts asleep?
Long story; short pier
Making Light
Mouse Words
One Good Thing
The Panda's Thumb
Respectful of Otters
The Sideshow
Sisyphus Shrugged
Matthew Yglesias

old peat (archives):
December 22, 2002
December 29, 2002
January 12, 2003
January 19, 2003
February 2, 2003
February 16, 2003
February 23, 2003
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