About my farm

March 23, 2012

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My family’s farm is named Spring Lake Farm. You can visit our website here. I grew up working with my parents. This relationship has evolved but I am still very involved with the farm. I have been able to convince my father to raise Large Black Pigs which I am extremely excited about!

 

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That’s My Dubai

January 10, 2007

The second-largest emirate in the United Arab Emirates, Dubai is a Middle-Eastern city that plans to transcend the limits of oil wealth by making itself into a utopia of conspicuous consumption. 

Dubai in the 1990sIn the 1990s, Dubai’s Sheikh Zayed Road cut through desert. Today, it’s lined with skyscrapers. By 2009, Dubai will be home to the world’s tallest building; the world’s tallest, largest, and first underwater hotels (none of which are the same building); the world’s largest amusement park, indoor skiing facility, airport, and indoor shopping mall, and a vast archipelago of man-made islands modeled after palm trees. 

Encouraged by pro-development policies of its ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum–known as Sheikh Mo–Dubai’s growth rate is double that of China’s, and its skyline bristles with cranes. The chic destination for expats and tourists that’s uncomfortably close to the tumult in Iraq and Iran, Dubai is raising eyebrows.

“Is this a new science-fiction novel from Margaret Atwood, the sequel to Blade Runner, or Donald Trump tripping on acid?” asks Mike Davis, the author of urban planning classic City of Quartz:

“The coastal desert has become a huge circuit board into which the elite of transnational engineering firms and retail developers are invited to plug in high-tech clusters, entertainment zones, artificial islands, “cities within cities” — whatever is the latest fad in urban capitalism. The same phantasmagoric but generic Lego blocks, of course, can be found in dozens of aspiring cities these days, but Sheik Mo has a distinctive and inviolable criterion: Everything must be “world class,” by which he means number one in The Guinness Book of Records . . . He understands that if Dubai wants to become the luxury-consumer paradise of the Middle East and South Asia (its officially defined “home market” of 1.6 billion), it must ceaselessly strive for excess.” –Mike Davis on Dubai for TomDispatch.com

One blogger has constructed an website documenting Dubai’s   “craziness:” 

“The madness.  Dubai is said to currently have 15-25% of all the world’s cranes,” writes the moderator of Dubai is Nuts! 

The reason for the boom, everyone agrees, is a three-letter-word starting with “O.”

“Dubai, the emirate, has far less oil compared to its neighbouring emirates, such as Abu Dhabi, and so is building up its tourist industry to prepare for a point when oil revenue will not be enough to support the country and/or the Dubai emirate itself,” writes a Dubai resident at the Dubai is Nuts! forum.  “All in all, it’s a pretty interesting place, but it does have its problems. Notably, the drivers here being as crazy as the building rate.”

But the ceaseless development may have a hidden cost: ennui.

“Maybe it’s too early for people like me to live in Dubai. The city cannot afford my dreams,” opines The Dubaier. “When you walk in the shopping malls you see the same people all the time. People who came to make money and go . . . I want to enjoy watching the stars. I want to enjoy smelling the trees. I want to see the real wonders not the manmade Palms. I feel that I’m stuck in an meaningless cube. Why am I stuck here?” 

Like it or not, transgender and transsexual people are becoming culturally acceptable. Oprah, America’s conscience, has run programs on people who undergo hormone therapy and surgery to change their genders. Fortune 500 companies are creating policies to protect employees in “transition.” In 2006, school districts in Japan and Florida made headlines by allowing grade-school aged boys to attend school as girls.

But gender is one of humanity’s most ingrained institutions, and people who cross its lines encounter resistance from unexpected quarters. Feminism, an ideology that cherishes equality between the sexes, is its current unlikely opponent. 

In late December, a post on the venerable feminist blog I Blame the Patriarchy sparked a bitter discussion in its comments section about transsexuals.

The most aggressive poster, Luckynkl, insists that men who become women are nothing but “foxes in the henhouse” of womanhood:

“Male transsexuals are not female, never have been female, and never will be female. Trans are not women (adult human females) in any sense of the word . . . In short, trans are nutjobs. The bathroom is about the last place I want to be alone with a male nutjob.”

MagicKitty agrees, saying that male-to-female transsexuals can’t understand what it means to be a woman:

“A man or boy who decides at some point in their lives that they will change their sex and become a woman, cannot possibly expect to instantly understand the cultural, social, and biological implications of being female. He has come, ultimately, from a group of privilege. Can he fully comprehend the thousands of years of oppression and the million ways of discrimination that women live under, and (many, unfortunately) accept as their fate?”

And Maribelle concludes that transsexuals and women are natural enemies:

“They dominate women by co-opting our identity and insisting we recognize that they are what we are, effectively erasing our very identity and existence as women.”

The argument has thrown the feminist blogging community into turmoil over whether such opinions are correct feminist doctrine or hate speech. Andrea at The Silver Oak Leafis apalled.

“There is a shocking level of transphobia tolerated in feminist spaces,” she says. “I find it disgusting that people who claim to be enlightened, deep-thinking opposers of prejudice are so gleeful in tarring and feathering transfolk.”

Antiprincess, at I Shame the Matriarchy, sees alarming echoes from the past.

“It’s probably worth mentioning that it was not so very long ago that the late Betty Friedan feared that lesbians (eek!) would infiltrate the Women’s Movement and destroy it from within, co-opting feminism and perverting it to their own destructive purposes. Similarly, making gender-dysphoric people out to be mole agents for the Patriarchy in the War Between The Sexes just doesn’t make sense to me.”

And Ampersand, at Alas, A Blog!, broke down the discussion into five main arguments before rebutting each one. But she  had to admit that trans issues pose ideological problems for feminists:

“In a sense, those transsexuals who move from one sex to the other ‘entrench the system’ of gender as a binary, because they are willing to dress and be identified in society as one gender and not the other.”

Mark Angelo CummingsNobody mentions that feminism poses problems for transsexuals, too. Mark Angelo Cummings, a female-to-male transsexual, is a trans activist, and in his autobiography he devotes a chapter to his views of the differences between men and women:

“Gentle they appear, claiming to be the weaker sex, so they say. It’s all an act, a ploy to get their way. They sit back and explore how they could win their battle. Pretending to be sweet and innocent. Keep your eyes open, men, for they will devour you like the black widow. I know, I have been there and back.”

–Mark Angelo Cummings, The Mirror Makes No Sense.

When I met Cummings, I told him that some of his views about women sounded misogynistic. He replied that he believes that women have a “a touch of evil” in them, adding that he’d drawn his conclusions from his first-hand experience. Then I turned to his wife, woman-born and raised, asking her how she felt about what her husband had said. “I don’t like it,” she said. “Sometimes I get angry.”

At least she’s not alone. How should feminists react to misogyny from former or aspiring women? How should transsexuals handle women who refuse to let them out of the gender they were born what they were born? Can they ever get along?