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Nov 03 2005

UnEnDowd

I still haven’t read the now-infamous article in which the entity known as "MoDo" liltingly (and if you ask me, lengthily) unveils her controversial "findings" that feminism has failed and that "the modern girl" should put The Art of Creative Swooning on her Christmas list and slip into a "Weener Coozy" T-shirt. But for those who have read the article–i.e. everyone but me–here is a piece in Women’s eNews calling Dowd out for lame-ass research and "irritating fluff."

One fun part is where authors Caryl Rivers and Rosalind Chait Barnett point out that when Dowd refers to a British study about men "not liking smart women," she unwittingly alludes to data collected from octogenarians. According to Rivers and Barnett, these data suggest that, among those Brits born in 1921, the higher a woman’s IQ, the slimmer her chances of getting hitched. In 1946.

The Dowd-is-a-dope angle is funny, all right, but couple of things niggle me about the authors’ leitmotifs. Such as the fountains of pathos that emanate from the bizarro yet persistent belief that men "like" women at all.

This belief is a romantic disease.

In our blighted patriarchy, fundamental inequalities require a pretty loose definition of the word like when applied to describe relationships between the oppressor and members of his sex class.

When men "like" women enough to marry them–because the woman has big-baby-eyes and oozes estrogen by the gallon?–the reward for her girlish appeal is domestic drudgery, sex service, pregnancy, child-rearing, and eventually getting dumped when Mr. Dude decides he’d rather be boning his assistant. In plenty of cases, poverty attends divorce, and physical violence often obtains in addition to these indignities.

Rivers and Barnett, however, opine that a reduction in the likelihood of their eventual matrimony ought to be "really bad news for bright women." By way of lighting the end of the tunnel, they point to another study showing that gals with advanced degrees are "just as likely to be successfully married as other working women." To which I say, too bad.

Why any woman, particularly one who has her own dough, and especially one with enough education to grasp the political consequences of such a regressive, patriarchy-affirming act, would want to get married (particularly to a man) remains one of the greatest and most poignant mysteries with which I’ve ever been vexed to grapple in all my middlin-long and pointless life.

108 comments

  1. PrissyNot

    Twisty – the very fact that you produce this blog is ample point to anyone’s life. People do marry, they want . . . I don’t know what they want . . . but it happens, and there’s nothing to be done about it but divorce, which is even more pointless. I’m rambling and sleep-deprived, but YOUR life, is NOT pointless.

  2. nina

    Why, indeed. I finally decided there’s no damn good reason, but the tragedy of reaching this conclusion is that it took me leaving two marriages to figure it out. I’m slow that way sometimes. I blame the patriarchy.

  3. Alice

    I married my dude so that if he were ever in intensive care they would let me in to hold his hand.

    I hate the idea of the institution of marriage. I hate joining a club that won’t let my gay friends in. But I was selfish enough to want the benefits the government confers on people who dance the conformist het dance.

  4. Lisa

    I agree with Alice. The legal benefits overall are tempting, but the most compelling reason for marrying my best friend, who just happens to be a man, is so that someone besides my crazy-ass mother has the legal authority to make decisions for me should I become incapacitated.

    I realize that we’re both very, very lucky. I’ve found a man who realizes I’m a person and not a giggling lump of meat attached to fun bags.

    And he’s got me.

  5. pj

    with all due respect to alice and lisa, there are ways to keep our “crazy-ass” mothers from being the ones who get to make the life/death decisions for us if we’re in the hospital.

    granted, none of them are as easy or comprehensive as marriage, but they do exist. getting a living will put together is actually relatively easy. hospitals are usually very respectful of them and, like we saw in the schiavo case, just because you’re married doesn’t mean your parents won’t try and interfere with your legal spouse’s decisions.

  6. Joolya

    I think it’s okay to marry a man who understands that being rewarded for your ostensible – but nor actual – heteronormativity is ridiculous. I happen to be attracted to men – or rather, folks who have dicks but lack machismo – but I’d still only want to file the papers in Massachusetts if I ever decided to pick a life-partner.

  7. Nancy

    I agree that marriage is a misogyny-based, pointless institution.

    But what are you saying, Twisty? Men should only marry other men, since men are incapable of loving women?

    Or are men incapable of love, period? Are women capable of love? What about hermaphrodites?

    And what about Mister Rogers? You best not be saying my boy Fred only thought with his dick – them’s fightin’ words.

  8. flea

    I, too, draw the line at Mister Rogers.

  9. Sarah Brodwall

    Two words: residency permit! I wouldn’t have been able to stay together with the love of my life if we hadn’t gotten married. Sometimes you don’t have any choice but to work within the system.

  10. Elise

    “Why any woman, particularly one who has her own dough, and especially one with enough education to grasp the political consequences of such a regressive, patriarchy-affirming act, would want to get married (particularly to a man) remains one of the greatest and most poignant mysteries with which I’ve ever been vexed to grapple in all my middlin-long and pointless life.”

    Well … some of them are kind of cute. And if you get them young and train them up right, they’re very handy for doing the heavy lifting. Also I made my husband take my last name, which was sort of fun.

  11. Lisa

    With all due respect to you, PJ, marriage is a pretty good deal as long as the partners negotiate and agree to the terms of the agreement. There are some benefits that simply are not available to non-married couples, even with legal agreements. Health care benefits come to mind. And no matter how carefully crafted your legal arrangement is, anything not specifically addressed in documentation will automatically revert to the authority of your nearest blood relative in the absence of an actual marriage.

    We have two children, too, which is a lot for a person to deal with alone. I’m glad the other person responsible for their existence is legally obligated to be around and help.

    Anyway, as Elise pointed out, some of them are kinda cute. My partner is 6 years younger than I am (see! I caught him young!) and has an ass you can bounce a quarter off of. That’s not all bad.

  12. Hattie

    My daughter and her partner have the same problems that hetero married couples do. Of course a lot of the bad behavior my daughter’s partner indulges in is male-inspired. That is, her partner does boorish things like leaving her power tools on the dining-room table and refusing to fix dinner while complaining that she’s hungry. Her love of expensive toys (new car, fancy furniture and home improvements, etc. etc.) and her aversion to domestic tasks takes a toll in money and time on my busy daughter. She’s also a big-time snorer.
    My daughter, for her part, ignores her partner’s feelings!
    The one thing I do think is good is that they share child care tasks equally, although the kid spends most of her waking hours in day care, and they leave her with a babysitter twice a week. None of this seems to harm her, I must say, but it’s real expensive.
    Avoiding men won’t solve problems, because the patriarchy is ingrained in all of us. I don’t see much gain in my daughter’s life from the hetero life I have led, married over 40 years to the same man.

  13. Daphne

    Twisty, you obviously can’t just *say* “why would we marry?” You must point to some studies that show, have shown, continue to show, that marriage decreases women’s life spans; increases men’s; and that married women are less happy than single women. Yet we all believe (oh and I am so loathe to say “we all believe,” based on a particular person in my office telling me “EVERYone knows” such-and-such the other day) that we’ll be miserably lonely without a guy. And a baby or three. And truth is that the same woman quoted parenthetically above is MUCH more pleasant now that she has a long-term boyfriend than she was as a quickly ageing 35-year-old.

  14. Nancy

    We have two children, too, which is a lot for a person to deal with alone. I’m glad the other person responsible for their existence is legally obligated to be around and help.

    Being a child’s father makes you responsible for their existence – and thanks to DNA testing, this is a testable proposition.

    And being married to someone does not legally oblige you to be around and help. Marriage is no guarantee of a committed, present father.

    As for the other benefits of marriage – domestic partner laws should take care of that advantage.

    No, marriage is only of value to traditionalists who like the idea. Of course some people don’t like to admit they’re a traditionalist, so they fall back on practical considerations. But there are few, and getting fewer all the time.

    And to some people, marriage gives men rights over women’s reproductive decisions – like the spousal notification law defended by Supreme Court nominee Alito. Better to stay out of men’s clutches, whether you have children together or not.

  15. Twisty

    Nancy, I’m saying that marriage, which institutionalizes male domination and fetishizes monogamy, is not beneficial to women. I further suggest that same-sex marriage which mimics the hetero power structure merely inducts queers into an indentured servitude previously unique to the hetero nuclear family, which ekes out its existence in thrall to forces of commerce against which it is powerless.

    I’m also saying that men, on the whole, hate women. I do not know whether they are capable of love.

    Marriage has nothing to do with love, and even less to do with Mr. Rogers, to whom I cannot remember alluding in my post.

  16. magikmama

    I got married to get health insurance. I had to have a c-section, and without health insurance it would have cost more than I had made in the past year before taxes.

    Yeah, it sucks.

    I love my husband, and we have a decent relationship, but marriage kind of destroyed what had been a carefully developed partnership, because we BOTH began to assume things just because we were married. It took years to get over that.

  17. Dim Undercellar

    My S.O. and I are most likely never going to be married. It’s a trap – easy to get into, hard to get out of, and it allows one party to be a complete asshole with impunity. The benefits are nothing that a “Power of Attourney” statement can’t mimic, and the drawbacks are ginormous.

    The most degrading, dangerous lie the Patriarchy sells women is that they are nothing without a man.

  18. SneakySnu

    Twisty, your beautiful rant reminds me very much of a seminar I attended about 10 years ago with Eve Sedgwick (the course had the wonderful title “Three” “Victorian” “Women”). She argued this precise point while we were reading–if I remember correctly–Virginia Woolf.

    I got married last year because, like others here, I needed a certain set of documents. Prior to this decision, I had already made the potentially patriarchy-affirming choice of not pursuing an academic career in the U.S. in order to be with my partner, who is a diplomatic officer (not from U.S.). I don’t doubt you would admonish me for this. It took me years to decide and not without considerable angst to this day.

    On the other hand, this life has offered me lots of freedom (the financial part helping a lot) to do my work outside the constraints of an institution and read lots of political blogs, all while really slacking off on any housework that might need to be done.

    And we get to live in really cool places like Cuba, where we’re going in about 5 months.

    I guess what I’m saying is that I’m holding out hope for myself, though I feel terribly implicated in your critique.

  19. anon

    I used to be a traditionalist. Even after a really crappy marriage, I was a traditionalist; I thought I needed to be married, and almost tried it again (and thank goodness I didn’t, as it would have turned out badly in a whole different way than the first).

    Now I’m almost sure I don’t need to be married, even though I have a lovely companion and I suspect we have a lifetime deal.

    That cultural imperative is just so strong, that it’s very hard to swim against the current, even when it’s obvious how weighted marriage is in favor of the man, and how many women end up on the losing side of that (despite the cries of men everywhere who are shrieking about “child support”).

    There are a substantial number of men who do seem to hate women. There seems to be an even larger group, though, for whom women are so unimportant or so objectified that indifference is probably more accurate.

  20. emjaybee

    (shrugs)

    I like being married. I like my husband, and I take serious umbrage at the suggestion that he is incapable of love or of liking me due to my being a woman. I mean, I hate the patriarchy at least in part because it says such vile things about *men* as well as women, after all. He is my best friend, I wouldn’t have married him otherwise. The ceremony we went through was mostly an excuse for a party; we were de facto committed to each other long before that. Being married simplified many things for us as a couple, and it was the best decision for us, legally and practically. That doesn’t mean the whole concept couldn’t or shouldn’t be improved.

    If marriage didn’t exist, it wouldn’t affect our relationship much, presuming we would still have the legal rights that married couples have in some other form. I have no problem with the idea of breaking down marriage and re-structuring how we give out those rights. So long as I could choose to live with him, raise kids with him, and be the person who looked out for his interests, I wouldn’t really care what legal form all that would take.

    In the meantime, I offer no apologies for making use of this particular social construct just because others have misused it and continue to do so.

  21. speedbudget

    Thank Bob for Twisty. She always manages to clearly state what I’ve been thinking for a long time. I don’t see the need for marriage. I always said that if it came to the point where I would want to state to the world that “this is my dude,” it would be done without involving the state. Those commitment ceremonies that gay/lesbian couples are having sound like just the ticket. Mine would involve a pool, swimsuits, and a friend of mine who is ordained by the Universal Church on the internet to perform unions. And Billy Idol’s “Rebel Yell” would be playing while I walk down the “aisle.”

  22. bitchphd

    I don’t care about the marriage issue, but I will say for the record that I DO care about the Dowd-bashing. It seems like any time the woman writes honestly about her personal life, everyone piles on about how “silly” she is. From feminists, I detect a li’l bit of internalized misogyny: it’s okay for women to be successful as long as they do it in a mannish way–that is, by not getting too personal. The minute they seem conventionally feminine–weak, interested in marriage, whatever–we pile on.

    I disagree with Dowd’s analysis and many of her assertions: I haven’t found that men are uninterested to successful, aggressive, conventionally attractive women (and Dowd IS conventionally attractive). Quite the contrary. But I see no reason to question her statements about her own life, and if anything I rather support the fact that she’s trying to work out her personal life in a public context by trying to bring feminist analysis to bear. God knows we don’t see that in the pages of the NYT all that often.

  23. Josef K

    I’m getting married next year for many reasons, but the main one is that we want to show the world we’re spending the rest of our lives together. We didn’t think we needed to get married to prove this, but, judging by many people’s reactions, we sure did.

    I don’t think getting married makes me a willing victim of the patriarchy. My current relationship has less heteronormative baggage than most of the gay relationships I’ve been in.

  24. tisha

    http://www.slate.com/id/2129131/ click here for the FrayWatch (Slate magazine) on the blogging about the Dowd article.

    I loved the post commenting on the Roiphe article “Is Maureen Dowd Really Necessary?”

    Here it is:
    *************************************
    Dear Ms. Dowd and Roiphe–If I could enlighten both of you to one thing about most of us heterosexual men, it would be that anytime we appear to be hiding the fact that we want to have sex with you or apologizing for wanting to have sex with you or for wanting sex, liking sex, being sexually attracted to women (dumb and smart), etc, etc, it is almost always because we think it will lead to us having sex with you or we think you are ugly.How we conduct ourselves while doing the above depends on which of the two factors (you’re hot or you’re ugly) is motivating us. We are trying to be either sensitive thus attractive or un-interested and a turn-off, but it is all about whether we want you in bed.And no matter how much you may delude yourselves into thinking so, we do not ever really feel guilty over being genetically inclined to do these things. We only pretend to be, or condemn it when we see it in other guys, if we want to have sex with you and we think it will help to ease your feelings.Every guy who denies these things to his woman does so because he wants to have sex, doesn’t want to be bitched at, or both. Women don’t want to believe this about their men so they pretend it isn’t so. Which only makes his goals that much more attainable.
    ****************************************
    (. . . yup, pretty much sums it up.)

  25. Nancy


    I’m also saying that men, on the whole, hate women. I do not know whether they are capable of love.

    Marriage has nothing to do with love, and even less to do with Mr. Rogers, to whom I cannot remember alluding in my post.

    Saying that men on the whole hate women has nothing to do with marriage either.

    The point about Mr. Rogers is that you characterized men thus:


    When men “like” women enough to marry them–because the woman has big-baby-eyes and oozes estrogen by the gallon?–the reward for her girlish appeal is domestic drudgery, sex service, pregnancy, child-rearing, and eventually getting dumped when Mr. Dude decides he’d rather be boning his assistant. In plenty of cases, poverty attends divorce, and physical violence often obtains in addition to these indignities.

    You were lumping all men in with assholes. Now you modified a little by saying “on the whole” which presumably leaves room for non-assholes, but in your initial post I came away with the overwhelming impression that you feel that men are incapable of love for women.

    And now, as you’ve admitted you don’t know whether men are capable of love. Presumably for women or anything else.

    So where does Mr. Rogers fit in? Is he a man or not? Was Mr. Rogers capable of love?

    And how do you determine such things? By asking? By actions?

    And are you unsure of men, or all of humanity?

    I didn’t want to get too overanalytical, because I really enjoy the bitter, stimulating brio of your literary style, and on the whole I agree with you. That’s actually why I mentioned Mr. Rogers – I was trying to be sort of light but serious at the same time.

  26. Sam

    Unmarried for almost 8 years now. It’s challenging enough working through issues as a radical feminist in love with a man without adding the deeply ingrained social implications of being husband and wife.

    Twisty, a while back you teased us with your hinted-at thoughts on this subject and I’ve been waiting since then for your more fully realized musings. If they’ve been on the back burner this long it’s gonna be tasty when it’s finally ready.

    A good site http://www.unmarried.org

  27. Nancy


    Every guy who denies these things to his woman does so because he wants to have sex, doesn’t want to be bitched at, or both. Women don’t want to believe this about their men so they pretend it isn’t so. Which only makes his goals that much more attainable.
    ****************************************
    (. . . yup, pretty much sums it up.)

    Allowing one asshole to speak for one half of humanity is just as bad as allowing Paris Hilton to represent the other half.

    Sure, be bitter about the assholes who run our world, who treat people like shit and blame it on “evolution” – but you’d be a fool to forget that there are asshole women and righteous men.

    Or would you rather hang out with Ann Coulter than Tim Robbins?

    And never forget Mr. Rogers – he wasn’t a macho asshole and yet he was a man.

    Don’t let the Patriarchy make you believe that macho asshole = all men.

  28. ms kate

    I’m married and don’t feel any particular reason to defend my marriage against homosexuals, twisty logic, etc. What I can say is that the reason so many Santorums (santori?) get out of control about gay marriage and feel marriage needs to be defended is because same-gender marriage introduces an egalitarian model of partnership. Lots of obsession about “who wears the pants” in the lesbian marriage or “who is on top” in the gay marriage from this crowd.

    In that vein, isn’t declaring marriage a traditional patriarchal institution to be accepted or rejected but not changed just affirming and supporting the patriarchy in some way? Is the only way to challenge the patriarchy come from yes or no decisions, from rejecting marriage all together, rather than simply rejecting the male-dominated model and rolling your own rules?

  29. ursa

    There is a good post on Radical Goddess Theology about the 2nd world conference of Matriarchal societies and links to audio’s of the speakers . The Mosuo women distain marriage and these societies may give us clues as to how we might organize for a fairer world.

  30. pj

    Lisa, the fact that some of those benefits simply aren’t available to some couples is exactly why i hope people don’t get married. if straight people reject marriage, and become more aware of the second-class (if that) citizenhood that denial of marriage benefits places on queer folks, they’re likely to be more supportive of same sex marriage.

    like twisty, i’m not a fan of marriage period. i also think it’s an oppressive institution that celebrates the time when women were property. (if Scalito has his way, we’re headed back to that time.) but i’m opposed to discrimination more than i’m opposed to others choosing to get married. ideally, marriage would be left to the churches who could marry anyone they chose to or not and would not carry with it any governmental rights or benefits. the state would perform legal unions for *any* two consenting adults which would convey all the benefits currently provided by conventional marriage.

    my partner and i won’t marry, and are secure in our relationship without bringing the state into our bedroom, and we hope that others will do the same.

    i recommend “Here Comes the Bride” by Jaclyn Geller as a great resource for anyone who needs to give their family reasons they’re not getting married.

  31. Nancy

    Oh don’t you worry about those heathen Mosuo, bloody Jesus lamb’s gonna fix their wagons:
    http://www.crossroad.to/Victory/testimonies/mosuo.htm

    choice quote:

    “The Han Chinese were scared, but they went with him to his house. They entered, and he locked the door and closed the shutters. Then he told them, “My wife and I read your tract, and we believe in Jesus. We have never known such peace. We worship Him every day. We have smashed our idols, and now we live as man and wife.”

    The Chinese said, “How do you know all this? We only left you with one small tract.”

    He answered, “My wife and I like to lie on our backs on our bed, and we see pictures on the ceiling. One of the pictures was of a Lamb. He was bleeding, and his blood flowed over the whole world and washed people clean.”

  32. darkymac

    None of the excuses for the paradigm from within the paradigm are to be trusted. And the protests here sound a smidge wan.

    I’m on the outside with more than 50 years under my belt and I still feel at ease for never having fallen for the two is better than one sucker ploy.

    One doesn’t need much money to live well when one doesn’t buy what the Patriarchy wants one to buy. And one doesn’t need to fool oneself that one romantically loves someone or is loved by them to have an interesting and satisfying existence. Pointless as it may be in the Patriarchy’s eyes.

    Most certainly one remains vulnerable to being attacked by men in a patriarchy when one is not married/partnered, as I can report about in good and full detail from my encounters with the usual run of misogynists on a mission to slap down any woman who presumes to say and do what men don’t please, but why make it an everyday certainty by marrying one of them?

    Logic should compel one to consider solidarity with women first, in defence against the license that the Patriarchy gives men to cripple them, before any defence of solidarity with individual men.

    I find Twisty’s essay an expression of that solidarity and moreover one that has great poetry about it.

  33. AndiF

    I’ve been married for 34 years. If something were to happen to my marriage tomorrow, I’d never consider getting married again. On the other hand, if I went back 34 years with the knowledge I have today, I’d still marry my husband. That’s because I’m married one specific individual, not the patriarchy. What’s more the patriarchy didn’t define what our marriage is, we did. Marriage as an instituion may be the patriarchy’s tool but no one’s individual marriage has to be.

  34. Beth S.

    I suspect that most of the soul-sucking drudgery you mention in your critique of marriage comes not from the marital state, but the parental state. Having kids takes the bloom off the rose pretty quickly, I imagine.

  35. Nancy


    Logic should compel one to consider solidarity with women first, in defence against the license that the Patriarchy gives men to cripple them, before any defence of solidarity with individual men.

    Yes, and then logic will compel one to ask oneself: ALL women? Phyllis Schlafly? Ann Coulter? Michelle Malkin? Paris Hilton? Imelda Marcos? Lynn Cheney? The women of Concerned Women for America?

    Sorry, but no, this is bullshit. Although the Patriarchy is for the benefit of males, there are plenty of males who stand against it and are harmed by it, and we’d be idiots to reject their aid due to the shape of their genitals.

    Furthermore, it doesn’t matter how sentimental you are about female solidarity, there are plenty of women who worship the Patriarchy. Those women would be glad to sell you and me and every other woman in the world out to hang onto what that fucking shithead Schlafly calls “our privileges.”

    Read this and then tell me how much solidarity you feel with Schlafly:

    http://www.newyorker.com/critics/books/?051107crbo_books

    quote:

    “STOP ERA—the acronym stood for Stop Taking Our Privileges—initially drew its support from the same network of conservative women who had helped Schlafly distribute “A Choice Not an Echo.” Soon the movement began to grow, according to Critchlow, mainly by involving young women—a large proportion of them Evangelical Christians—who had never before been involved in politics.”

  36. nicky

    goddam, I love this blog.

    I’ve been married for more than 33 years—since I was 19 years old. I married to escape my rigidly patriarchal nuclear family and the small-town life. I don’t know if we “love” each other at this point, but we’re compatible, and we like and respect each other. Sex is a thing of the past. I have in the intervening years concluded that I am bisexual. He acknowledges and actually respects that. I don’t think he hates women; I think he respects women and defers to women, bein’ a well-brought-up Southern guy. He has never been with anyone else sexually since we hitched up. I cannot say the same, and in retrospect, I wouldn’t have had it otherwise.

    My mother to this day continues to address correspondence to me as “Mrs. His First and His Last Name.”

    My daughter recently married. In a church. With a gown and veil and everything. During the rehearsal she turned to me several times to make sure I was ok with the language of the ceremony. Yuks all around, nervously and especially from the Episcopalian priest and his (female) assistant and the odious “wedding assistant” the church assigned to us. Nicky Jr. knew enough to veto the “obey” bullshit, and she knew how I felt about 1) being in a church in the first place and 2) the idea of her father and I, or anyone for that matter, “giving her away.” I gave a brief speech about patriarchy and the language was changed, with much rolling of eyes and smirks. (Fuck them.) My daughter knows enough, and has previously been in sufficiently numerous bad relationships, to know what she wants and will demand. My son-in-law adores her, and if that’s what they want, that’s what I want for them.

    My son has been living with his SO for two years. She has a job that, progressively and surprisingly enough, as he is her “domestic partner,” she can now cover him with her health insurance benefits. No need for marriage, although that’s what she desperately wants, for her own psychological reasons. He’s not so sure. I don’t think he wants to be with her forever, and I hope he eventually goes with that instinct. But for now, I can breathe more easily knowing that he won’t invoke financial ruin if god forbid something health-wise should happen. I think health insurance is the reason so many people stay together, or get together, these days. Nothing more needs to be pointed out in that regard in terms of how our culture is constructed.

    ideally, marriage would be left to the churches who could marry anyone they chose to or not and would not carry with it any governmental rights or benefits.

    Yes, yes. True separation of religiously dictated privileges from what should be religion-free civil rights. Of course marriage is an outmoded patriarchal construct. Of course it should be of no consequence to hetero, homo, or whatever citizens of an actual free democracy. All the more reason to oust the current regime and attempt to restore some semblance of progressive politics. That’s where it all begins and ends.

    Plus, what andif said at 3:05 pm.

    Sorry for going on so long.

  37. rose

    Pair bonding, some people like it. So they should go ahead and do it. I think nicky has the right idea.
    I agree with Modo, nothing sends a patriarchy member out the door faster than a sarcastic woman. An excellent tool for separating the patriarchs from the humans.

  38. Mandos

    I suspect that Twisty was referring to men as a class and not as individuals—this would explain her bafflement at the Mr. Rogers reference. And further that the hate or non-love is somewhat more abstract that what people associate with personal, individual, passionate hatred.

    By the way, I’ve just had my first encounter with the Safeway Artisan, and wow, that is inferior bread. No wonder it’s cheaper than the trucked-in nonfresh bread.

  39. sfk

    I got married after a lifetime of swearing i never would for the reasons T.F. states.

    So far it’s working out fine. However, we will not have children. Hell no – no way. It seems to me that having children is the trap, not so much marriage. Women do all the flippin work and pay full price for having children, while men ‘babysit’ once in a while and get every bit of the benefits in return. And they’re able to up and leave, apparently without remorse in many cases, whereas women have a much harder time of taking off without the kids. When divorce happens and kids are involved, women are far worse off than men.

    There is a lot wrong with marriage. I gambled. I believe that men do hate women – that’s patriarchy. Women hate women, too – ditto. It’s a struggle to overcome it. I grabbed for some happiness and a companion through life, hoping against the odds that he doesn’t turn out a total asshole.

  40. Kate

    Marriage? I can see why people do it. I can see why people don’t. I’m planning on doing it, for lots of reasons. I like the man, he likes me, and I think you can reshape marriage to make it fit your own life and ideals. But if we didn’t get married… again, I wouldn’t really care.

    If getting married makes me a lousy feminist in the eyes of some other feminists, then I accept that with a shrug. Just because I want to try to make a commitment to a person I love doesn’t make me less committed to effecting change in the world and making things better for other women.

  41. Mary

    Twisty – thanks for this post. For some people marraige is an option. For others it just isn’t.

    My mother said to me once that if I ever really wanted to “get the guy”, I’d have to act a little bit vulnerable. Apparently, I seemed too intelligent, too confident, too intimidating, too something and was scaring them off. Whatever. I’m glad I never followed her advice. Vulnerability hasn’t put a house over my head, paid my mortgage or taken me on vacation!

    Here is my current criteria for entering or staying in a relationship with a man: I simply have to ask myself if being with him makes my life better or worse. Once I started asking myself this simple question and was mature enough to answer it honestly I’ve been a much happier person.

  42. mythago

    As for the other benefits of marriage – domestic partner laws should take care of that advantage.

    It’s funny, but I only hear this arguments from heterosexuals who happily wallow in their privilege to marry or not. Gosh, why don’t these silly queers just take domestic partnership and like it?

    Which is, by the way, exactly why The Man doesn’t want same-sex marriage. It’s very hard to decide that the man makes the money and the woman does the shitwork when you don’t have one of each in a marriage.

  43. darkymac

    Nancy, Nancy, Nancy
    What Mandos said.

  44. Jen

    An interesting set of comments from everyone on this issue.

    I completely despise the institution of marriage and all the rest that goes with it, but I chose to get married anyway. Why? It felt like the right thing to do.

    I’ll admit, there are many days I am very, very queasy about all of it. I still flinch at being called “wife” and I referred to my spouse as “the husband” for months after we got married. However, I love my husband and we were interested in working in a relationship with the level of commitment we both attached to the construct of marriage. We were all influenced by what our society has deemed the socially acceptable means to be in a committed relationship (marriage) and we all attached certain values to that in our own heads.

    If you chose to use the vehicle of marriage to be in relationship – then the challenge lies in how you shape it to your values.

    PS: I hope to live to see the day when we all have civil unions and people who want to be “married” do it in their church. We tried to get a civil union in Vermont, but those are for same-sex couples only and we got married before Mass. changed it laws.

    PSS: My husband, even though he is dick-bearing creature, is what I consider an “evolved” male. Small examples – he taught me to say to anyone who called me a bitch “I prefer whirling bitch” (or castrating bitch depending on the day), he bought me my first “Bitch” magazine and he turned me onto this blog. Evolved boys do exist.

  45. Nancy


    Nancy, Nancy, Nancy
    What Mandos said.

    What, you mean you buy Safeway bread too?

  46. sparklegirl

    I’m also saying that men, on the whole, hate women. I do not know whether they are capable of love.

    Why would a feminist–a member of a movement that sees women as complex people and wants to fight damaging stereotypes and prejudices about them–make a sweeping, negative statement about one gender?

    Men are just as diverse as women. Some men do hate women. And today we still have a system that promotes male dominance over women in many ways. But that doesn’t mean all men are out to oppress women. In fact, patriarchy hurts them too, as Hugo Schwyzer has pointed out many times, because it pigeonholes them as emotionless breadwinners rather than letting them be complex people.

    There are plenty of men who do love and respect women. There are also plenty of assholes. It’s sad and unfair to lump all men together with the assholes.

  47. Elaine

    Hey Twisty, I was just wondering… Do you ever have sex with people? Men? Women? Do you have relationships with men that are sexual? Ever? Or do you just swear off all sex cause it cannot escape its patriarchal ways. I always wonder that when I read about you…

  48. Twisty

    I suspect that Twisty was referring to men as a class and not as individuals—this would explain her bafflement at the Mr. Rogers reference. And further that the hate or non-love is somewhat more abstract that what people associate with personal, individual, passionate hatred.

    Mandos has correctly identified my argument as abstract. Most, if not all, of my arguments are. I tend to paint, as it were, with broad strokes.

    I have no beef with Mr Rogers.

    Why would a feminist–a member of a movement that sees women as complex people and wants to fight damaging stereotypes and prejudices about them–make a sweeping, negative statement about one gender?

    I’m afraid I am the sort of feminist who has observed that the behavior, overall, of men towards women, overall, is rather more expressive of hatred than of love. One has only to cast a cursory eye over the expanse of space and time, or of geography and history, to perceive that men, as a class, have been and continue to be our oppressors, and that this has not been, nor is it likely to be, beneficial, overall, to women.

    Individual people’s individual husbands–excluding, of course, the musicians–are undoubtedly sterling examples of their breed. Some of my best friends, in fact, are married to men who rarely, if ever, beat them. But that doesn’t constitute an argument against making “negative statements” about the culture of male domination.

  49. julia

    I was married and I loved it. We were a family. Before we were married, we didn’t have that same family feeling. And that is the feeling that I wanted.

    My husband and I complimented each other. We filled in for each other’s short comings. It was good.

    I don’t know why marriage gave me those feelings, but it did. I like families. I grew up in a great family where no one was ever hit, and we were all liberals. My father was respectful of my mother. My father worked outside the home and my mother ran the family business (she had been a business person since the 1950′s). My father knew what a remarkable woman he had married, and always reminded her that he loved her.

    I would marry again, if I thought I could regain the family thing. It was wonderful.

    I can’t disagree that there are alot of asshole men and women. The difference is that the partiarchy accepts asshole men as “boys being boys” but the women are considered sluts and golddiggers.

    But there are a lot of good people out there. I was married to one of them. The problem is that people think that the person they marry will automatically turn into the “perfect spouse” once they are married. People think that it is marriage that they want, when what they want is to be married to the person who is perfect for them.

  50. julia

    Opps!

    I just remembered that not everyone here knows me.

    Before someone asks, the reason I’m no longer married to my wonderful husband is that he died in 1997 from cancer.

  51. Chris Clarke

    Individual people’s individual husbands–excluding, of course, the musicians–are undoubtedly sterling examples of their breed

    I find it a little sad that you actually felt you had to say this.

    Come on, folks. We men are either assholes, in which case we deserve such criticism; or not assholes, in which case we can glean from such criticism whatever nuggets and corrections may serve to allow us to become better humans; or not assholes but oversensitive nonetheless, in which case we need to get over ourselves.

    And in any event, it’s not about us. Or if it is, it’s about us getting the hell out of the way as our sisters define themselves.

    Anyway, I hate to make this comment and run, but I need to dash off a note to BET to whine about their standup comedians because some white people can actually kind of dance.

    Rock on, Twisty. This admitted member of your oppressor class loves you to pieces. Not literal pieces, of course.

  52. Mandos

    At the same time I think that “hate” might be a misnomer. You’d have to say that “consider inferior” means “hate”. I’m not sure that’s the correct ontology.

  53. tisha

    Nancy wrote: “Allowing one asshole to speak for one half of humanity is just as bad as allowing Paris Hilton to represent the other half.”

    But Nancy, I DON’T think this man (boy?) was necessarily an asshole. Maybe he was, maybe he wasn’t. What he WAS, was honest. The bottom line is that sex is the overriding motivator for most men. I sort-of agree with Twisty: In general, as
    a class, straight men don’t “like” women; they just pretend to like women because they need sex like they need air or food.

    However, in the course of attaining their PRIMARY goal of getting laid, SOME men, over time, actually discover that – - – gasp! jinkies! women are human beings! SOME of these men will eventually evolve for real. For most men, however, acting evolved will be a technique they continue to use, because it continues to get them laid (and to those of you with husbands: Don’t automatically presume you KNOW which kind of man you’re married to! He might be evolved, but then again he might just be the kind of man who knows which side his bread is buttered on . . . and if you’re both happy, so what!).

    Bottom line: Het-Marriage is a social contract between two wholly different types of individuals with competing, yet often weirdly compatible, needs. To each his/her own . . .

  54. sparklegirl

    Twisty, couldn’t you just as easily say that since there is still so much racism in our society, white people hate black people?

  55. Twisty

    I find it a little sad that you actually felt you had to say this.

    When you think about it, it’s a little sad that I actually feel I have to write this whole blog. As I’m sure that guy who wants to shoot himself in the the morning because of people like me would agree.

  56. Chris Clarke

    When you think about it, it’s a little sad that I actually feel I have to write this whole blog.

    Yes, but it’s a lot happy that it’s you who’s doing so.

    As I’m sure that guy who wants to shoot himself in the the morning because of people like me would agree.

    Unfortunately, he’s all talk.

  57. Twisty

    Sparklegirl, I believe it’s safe to say that anyone–honky, negro, indian, crack ho, trophy wife, what have you– who does not enjoy fully human status within the white male dominant system can count herself hated.

  58. Sam

    Like most other feminists I’ve come against the “feminists are man-haters” statement too many times to count. The speaker and my mood generally determine how I handle it, but I remember one time a few years back when I snapped at a man for hauling it out in a conversation about discrimination against sportswomen.

    I told him it would be a nice change for men making the man-hater accusation to shoulder the burden of proof that most men don’t hate most women. For just one day, today, it would be on him to look at the extreme amounts of femicidal violence men commit against women, much of it sexualized violence, on top of the daily discriminations and constant belittlings, and try to make his case that most men don’t hate most women.

  59. Alice

    I think the whole men-are-driven-by-sex thing is hugely overrated.

    My spouse is not driven by an overwhelming, uncontrollable urge to screw.

    I wish he were.

  60. suezboo

    To reiterate, the blog is called I Blame the Patriarchy, not I blame Men.It’s a system, some would argue class-based, others caste. It’s an evil system of dominance and control with tentacles in every part of our lives.That is what one blames, not individual men, some of whom may actually like the woman they’re with. So saying your own particular live-in dick-wearer is a sweetie is nice and we’re all happy for you at finding Love Across the Gender Divide, BUT it does not, in any way, undermine the basic fact that he is a member of the privileged class in this society which is structured for him. You remain a second-class person.Under apartheid, there were some people who loved each other even though “miscegenation” was against the law.Didn’t do a thing to change the system.

  61. ursa

    I think if we personalize comments to much we prohibit useful discussion, none of us really know what another person does when they walk out of the door, even if its our dearly beloved husband or wife. I think male hatred of women is an important topic not least because of the many ways it manifests itself. how much is it cultural how much biological ? we need to understand the nature of what we are up against if feminism is to advance, to know our enemy or friend as the case may be.

  62. Alice

    Sure, Ursa and Suezboo, the patriarchy bites. I’m with you all the way on that one. But Twisty said that she’s unsure that men are capable of love. Somebody else said all men really want from women is sex.

    Saying you don’t want to hear examples to the contrary is like saying you don’t want to let annoying facts get in the way of your theory.

    I’m all for blaming the patriarchy, but the man-bashing is tiresome.

  63. delphyne

    I’ve never understood this idea that you can blame the patriarchy but you can’t blame men. What is the patriarchy made up of if not men?

    It’s not like there are so many men on the streets fighting for women’s rights. Most of them seem pretty happy with their male privilege and women’s inferior postion. That’s individual men, not some amorphous mass called patriarchy that people pretend has nothing to do with the chaps.

  64. Mandos

    Well, Delphyne, I think that people are generally OK with blaming individual men if not many individual men. I think that people were objecting to, instead, perceived blanket claims about specific characteristics of every single man alive. I think this was a mistaken objection since it would reduce to an absurdity if Twisty actually meant that it should be taken that way.

    Also even if a preponderance of men share some component of blame for some aspect or another of the patriarchy, this is true of many women no?

  65. Chris Clarke

    I’m all for blaming the patriarchy, but the man-bashing is tiresome.

    uh-oh. Was that an obstrepral lobe I just heard exploding?

    Whew. No, it was just my cheap, off-brand paralipsisimeter catching fire. Worried me there for a second.

  66. Twisty

    I can see how love could flourish between a couple of Brahmins, but I would suggest examining the nature of the love between a member of a privileged caste and a member of an oppressed one. This sort of love can probably be romantic and, to a degree, satisfactory, but where the full humanity of one of the parties is recognized by neither the state or nor the community nor the cable news channels, can this love really be the pinnacle of human achievement it is so often cracked up to be? Doesn’t the inherent power differential fuck it up somewhat?

    Emerson said that a friend–and we may assume he meant two dudes-is the masterpiece of nature. Note that he didn’t say “wife.”

  67. AB

    You know what I hate? That even among feminists, you can’t talk about marriage being patriarchal and maybe not the best thing ever without creating an endless wave of women who do the “yes, but it’s different for ME. Mine isn’t patriarchal.”

    It’s kind of like talking to a man about sexism and getting bogged down in, “oh, but I don’t rape women, I don’t interrupt, I’m a good guy, you must validate me before we can talk” thing. Or talking about how women changing their last name is a sexist tradition and getting bogged down in “Oh, but his name is just more *melodious* than mine, it wasn’t at all influenced by sexism!”

    Yes, marriage was and remains a sexist institution that has its roots in women as property. That doesn’t make you a bad feminist for getting married; it makes you one of the vast majority of us that has to make compromises and live in the real world every day. Hell, I do too. I don’t have the time or the energy to live in a world where I’d weave my own gender-neutral clothes out of organic cotton and spend four hours a day expanding my mind by reading the latest social justice treatise and blah blah blah.

    I accept that the sheer amount of energy it would take to resist patriarchy in every formulation is more than any one woman (or man) probably has in them. (TW may be an exception here.) I also know that every feminist woman who compromises on marrying a guy, on changing her name, on quitting her job to take care of the kids (after all, sometimes it makes more financial sense) is acting in a way makes it a little harder for those of us who don’t to keep resisting the societal mandate.

    I’m not saying that any individual really has the responsibility to make my life easier by not compromising. We all compromise. However, ain’t no little thing we do that isn’t influenced by culture, and doesn’t influence the culture that all of the rest of the women in the world live in, and we shouldn’t act like marrying one particularly handsome, progressive man with good health insurance is an exception to that rule.

  68. AB

    OMG, that’s so embarrassing. Uh, I mean Twisty may be the exception (TW ^= TF). Damn. After I had penned my self-righteous little rant, that’ll bring me right back down to earth.

  69. Betsy

    “I’ve never understood this idea that you can blame the patriarchy but you can’t blame men. What is the patriarchy made up of if not men?”

    Oh, golly, Delphyne — don’t tell me you haven’t had a run-in with the women of the patriarchy. The men are bad, indeed, but the women are arguably worse.

    They’ll fight for the patriarchal ideal with not only the force of the institution behind them, but also the desperation of victimhood. They’ve traded in all their natural rights for a morsel of the patriarchy’s favor — and they’ll defend it with everything they’ve got.

    When you hear those spike heels clicking — RUN!!

  70. Alice

    Yes, absolutely, the patriarchy fucks with the het relationship. (I’d venture to say it fucks with the Brahmin relationship, too, making it a less pure and noble thing, since part of what attracts one Brahmin to another is each one’s superiority to members of the dog crap classes.) Those of us gals unfortunate enough to be stricken with heterosexuality have to fight to make the best relationship we can within the appalling system we live in. I blame the patriarchy.

  71. Sam

    Sometimes I catch myself thinking that being a lesbian radical feminist would be much easier than being a hetero radfem when it comes to integrity between woman-centered actions and woman-centered beliefs, but then I snap out of the moment and realize that’s bullshit. Being hetero is easier, period.

    Whether I accept or reject what my culture offers relationship-wise, they are choices not offered to lesbians who don’t have the privilege of options. As others have said, one of the many reasons we won’t marry is because our gay & lesbian friends can’t.

    Which is not a judgement on those who marry because I also believe Gandhi was right in that we need to “be the change you want to see in the world.” There’s more than one way to fight the patriarchy and building as egalitarian a marital relationship as possible is one option.

  72. mskate

    I find it interesting that some people think that they can fight the patriarchy by doing exactly what the patriarchy doesn’t want them to do.

    Let’s think about this a minute. If you do as you are told, you are obviously capitulating.

    If you do the opposite of what you are told, you are resisting BUT you are not necessarily free to be true to yourself. In that sense, the patriarchy is still controlling and directing your actions.

    If you do what you want to do in your own way for your own purposes and reasons, only then have you become your own free-willed self.

    Screw the Patriarchy. To hell with anti-whatever orthodoxy. I chose free will.

  73. kathe

    I have a lifetime of raising kids and being married to various people, and not married to others without ever being officially married until we needed to adopt some foreign kids. Can’t fool the State Department. But at least it’s a Quaker marriage. What I wanted to say is that the problems are with relationships as such, not with “marriage.” And breaking up is just as hard, regardless of the provenance of the marriage, or even if there is none. I wonder if it can really be blamed on the patriarchy, or do people just have trouble getting along?

  74. FoolishOwl

    On that letter to Salon: that guy wasn’t honest at all. He may not realize that, he may think he was perfectly honest, but he was lying to himself. He was reiterating a classic model of masculinity, announcing that he completely accepts the complete crippling of his spirit and the abandonment of all his hopes. Men are taught that if they don’t act properly masculine, that no man or woman will ever respect them. And part of that masculinity is to substitute sexual desire for emotional intimacy.

    That is, relationships take much time and hard work. But men are taught that if they have sex, that means they’ve been accepted — and that’s all the love they’ll ever get. And of course, that if they’re not sufficiently masculine, they’ll never even get that much. So most men will trumpet about their unquenchable libidos every chance they get.

    I knew what “love” meant long before puberty and the wakening of sexual desire. I loved my parents, my sister, my friends, my cat. On top of that, I was reading medieval romances in the years just before adolesence — they were hardly unproblematic, but they did depict romantic love with no apparent reference to sexuality. I was rather absorbed in the idea of mutual romantic obsession — so much so that in later years, I had a hard time reconciling my deeper feelings for a person with my sudden, rather insistent sexual desires, which I would often regard as a sort of nuisance.

  75. darkymac

    Well now FOOLISHOWL it seems that the arch mediaeval romance, the Arthurian one with all the loving of the Golden Ideal lady, may have been a con job from the outset.
    Have a listen to this small article in the Australian public broadcaster’s Science Show from a few weeks back.

    The one with the article is headed “Saturday 15 October ” at the bottom of the page.
    Unfortunately for the listener, the show’s audio file is not divided into articles and so you will have to download the whole show and find your way with the timing script if you want to listen.
    The article’s title is “Science, Mathematics and the Riddles of Camelot”. You may prefer to use the transcript

    The take-home message is that Dr Helms has found a precise, if coded, meaning in the classic French texts that began the Arthurian Romance industry. And it’s nothing to do with even a sexless kind of loving.
    I enjoy a bit of mystery solving, especially when the detective, as in this case, is a little old grandmother.

    For the rest of it, what about Harlan Ellison’s
    “Sure I know what love is; a boy loves his dog”?

  76. Anonymous

    “Also even if a preponderance of men share some component of blame for some aspect or another of the patriarchy, this is true of many women no?”

    No, women aren’t to blame for the patriarchy any more than any oppressed group is to blame for the oppressive system they have to survive in. Only a sexist would think they were.

    It’s interesting to see the many interpetations of the patriarchy here – mine is men in power (and that power has a wide reach), others seem to think it has something to do with female oppression but nothing to do with men, and you Mandos are trying to make us believe that it is made up of both men and women.

    I guess we’re all believing that Twisty is blaming our own personal definition.

  77. delphyne

    “Oh, golly, Delphyne — don’t tell me you haven’t had a run-in with the women of the patriarchy. The men are bad, indeed, but the women are arguably worse.”

    You’re kidding me right? I know the tone is light round here but seriously, who do you think is doing all the raping, beating and murdering of women? Who exploits women’s labour and reproductive abilities? Who is it who wants women treated as property and second class citizens? It’s not the ladies amongst us.

  78. Mandos

    “No, women aren’t to blame for the patriarchy any more than any oppressed group is to blame for the oppressive system they have to survive in. Only a sexist would think they were.”

    I’m sorry, I don’t agree with the premise. ie, that no “oppressed group is to blame for the oppressive system they have to survive in.” First of all, groups are not monoliths, and members of groups that are generally considered oppressed classes can achieve positions of privelege nonetheless. Don’t tell me that, say, Condi Rice is more oppressed than [insert list of oppressed groups]. Oppression can only be characterized in terms of tendencies in cases where it’s not a centralized despotism (and maybe even then).

  79. SF Knitter

    Honestly, TF is right and that’s all there is to say about it.

  80. Betsy

    Thanks, Delphyne, you noticed the huge hole in my earlier point. I was being light-hearted. I would never say that women are worse in terms of violence and coercion inflicted on women individually or as a class. I guess my point was that patriarchal women are capable of defending and enlarging the patriarchy just as much as men. I’m thinking of Phyllis Schlafly, and a lot of the socioeconomically dominant women of my own experience (upper-crust WASP women in the South). They are as thoroughly invested in the patriarchy as any men I’ve met. (I realize that “men I’ve met” doesn’t necessarily include the worst offenders known among men.)

    But you’re right, far, far fewer women would directly consent to inflict violence on women, whereas many patriarchal men would and do.

  81. Nancy

    Bitch PhD said:

    I rather support the fact that she’s trying to work out her personal life in a public context by trying to bring feminist analysis to bear. God knows we don’t see that in the pages of the NYT all that often.

    Yes, we don’t see it that often in the pages of the NYT because Dowd is the only regular female op-ed columnist. And she’s no sister.

    And Dowd IS a silly person. Not because she’s a woman, but because she is silly. You can’t have read her work on any number of subjects and think otherwise.

    And her ‘analysis’ stinks. She clearly subscribes to evolutionary psychology, and to back up her analysis she cites thoroughly discredited studies, including the recent one about Ivy League women who want to drop out and have babies.

    And she’s a class snob – to her, the only things that have ‘style’ are Cary Grant and fantasies about walking your pet leopard down the street.

    And then there’s her intensely obnoxious habit of having things both ways – bemoaning the unflattering stereotypes of feminists while offering up several of her own.

    I can’t see how this book excerpt is anything except an insult to feminists, written by a simpering, privileged powderpuff of a creature.

  82. delphyne

    You’ve lost me Mandos. Are you saying that Condoleeza Rice is responsible for the racism and sexism she faces? That makes no sense whatsoever.

    Betsy, that’s very nice of you to thank me for pointing out the problem in your argument. I’m not saying women don’t prop up the patriarchy. The point is to understand why they do it. The rewards and punishments offered by men to women to enforce women’s second class status makes it almost inevitable that some women are going to be complicit. What is required is to maintain the focus on who benefits from that complicity i.e. men. Mary Daly calls them Token Torturers. She has lots of interesting to say about the phenomenon.

  83. Nancy


    As for the other benefits of marriage – domestic partner laws should take care of that advantage.

    It’s funny, but I only hear this arguments from heterosexuals who happily wallow in their privilege to marry or not. Gosh, why don’t these silly queers just take domestic partnership and like it?

    Which is, by the way, exactly why The Man doesn’t want same-sex marriage. It’s very hard to decide that the man makes the money and the woman does the shitwork when you don’t have one of each in a marriage.


    I’m not saying gays should not have the right to get married. I’m saying that marriage is pointless and stupid for anybody, except for the few medical/legal privileges attached to marriage. But I don’t think marriage itself is a privilege.

    I’m arguing that everybody should have the right to domestic partnerships – and regardless of whether the two people involved are even having sex.

    And if you have some attachment to marriage itself – apart from the medical/legal benefits – go get married for the sheer pointless romanticism of it. Have a big church wedding with all the trappings for all I care.

    But save your hetero-resentment for somebody else. I prefer males as sex partners, but that doesn’t make me a supporter of hetero fascism.

  84. Nancy


    Emerson said that a friend–and we may assume he meant two dudes-is the masterpiece of nature. Note that he didn’t say “wife.”

    Why may we assume he meant two dudes?

    And even if he did, why do we care what Emerson thought?

  85. Twisty

    We care what Emerson wrote because, though a guy, he was, I believe, smarter than all of us.

    I believe he alludes to same-sex friendships because he wrote in a time when friendships between men and women were not common or proper.

    Check this: back then friendships between men were characterized by something other than chest-butting and howling “booya” at strip clubs!

    By the way, when I said “Brahmins” I meant privileged male bluebloods of any nationality, not necessarily actual Indians.

  86. Mandos

    “Check this: back then friendships between men were characterized by something other than chest-butting and howling “booya” at strip clubs!”

    This is interesting. Do you think it might be related to the fact that friendships between men and women are considered to be more proper? I don’t mean that I “blame” friendships between men and women, I’m talking about what people sometimes seem to call “homosociality.”

    “You’ve lost me Mandos. Are you saying that Condoleeza Rice is responsible for the racism and sexism she faces? That makes no sense whatsoever.”

    Uh. In the most elementary sense, the consequences and risks of racism and sexism for Condoleeza Rice are less than the consequences for women in significantly different circumstances.

    Secondly, and more importantly, who was talking *only* about the racism and sexism *she* faces? Clearly though being a member of the oppressed class, in the process of obtaining the many ample privileges that she presumably has, being Secretary of State and all, she contributes disproportionately to the upkeep of a political party presently highly invested (relatively speaking) in certain forms of systemic oppression. My statement follows immediately from this fact. Do you deny it?

    This is leaving out the thorny issue of whether a member of an oppressed class *can* participate in the oppression of *themselves*. On the contrary, it may not be correct, but the proposition is not itself inherently contradictory.

  87. Chloe

    According to this site: Dr. Irene… men like that (incapable of respecting women, etc.) are actually mentally ill.
    And yeah, I think it does have a lot to do with “patriarchal pedagogy”.
    But some women are “mentally ill” in the same way, and objectify their husbands, see them as merely hard butts attached to strong arms, more than an actual person. ;)
    So I think it’s a human issue rather than a male/female issue.
    And why it’s so important to stop states like Texas from preventing people from getting the same legal benefits for their significant others through means other than male/female matrimony.

  88. delphyne

    Mandos, Condoleeza Rice is a collaborator. In an oppressive system they will always exist. She’s still not to blame for the patriarchy no matter how hard you try to argue it. Responsibility for the patriarchy lies with men.

  89. Mandos

    “Mandos, Condoleeza Rice is a collaborator. In an oppressive system they will always exist. She’s still not to blame for the patriarchy no matter how hard you try to argue it. Responsibility for the patriarchy lies with men.”

    This is an incredible semantic quibble and I’m not sure whether its fruitful to argue it any more. A rose by any other name smells just as sweet. Or not.

  90. tisha

    Anyone who wants to ponder the question of whether or not women can participate in their own oppression need only recall the Chinese footbinding practices from years ago . . . it was done by women, to women. Sigh.

  91. delphyne

    It’s not a semantic quibble Mandos it’s a political argument. Take away the collaborators you would still have the patriarchy, take away the patriarchy, there would be no collaborators. One causes the other.

    Why are people so desperate to blame women for the existence of the patriarchy? Do you think it is black peoples’ fault that slavery existed in the American South? Should gay and lesbian people be blamed for homophobia? It comes down to that idea that we can’t blame men for anything. Saying men aren’t to blame for the existence of the patriarchy is faulty political analysis.

    Tisha, women were forced into binding their daughters feet in China. If they didn’t do it, their daughters would be unable to get married in the same way that men in certain countries demand wives who have been genitally mutilated. Everybody here needs to read Gyn/Ecology by Mary Daly and have a good long think about it.

  92. Mandos

    “It’s not a semantic quibble Mandos it’s a political argument. Take away the collaborators you would still have the patriarchy, take away the patriarchy, there would be no collaborators. One causes the other.”

    I actually don’t agree, empirically speaking, with this. In particular I don’t agree that the line between collaboration and Ultimate Responsibility can be so sharply defined.

  93. delphyne

    If you can find me one instance of collaborators existing without an oppressive regime for them to collaborate with (you know, empircally speaking) I’d be very interested Mandos.

  94. Mandos

    “If you can find me one instance of collaborators existing without an oppressive regime for them to collaborate with (you know, empircally speaking) I’d be very interested Mandos.”

    You missed my point. I was blurring the lines between the collaborators and the regime.

  95. tisha

    Actually I have read Daly’s GynEcology (twice in fact, given her unique language I think twice is the necessary minimum). In fact it still keeps it’s honored place in my library.

    Delphyne, you jumped to the conclusion that I BLAME women for collaborating. I did no such thing. As Mandos has suggested, I believe the line between “collaboration” and “ultimate responsibility” are pretty blurry. The consequences for refusing to collaborate with any oppressor can be dire, so I wouldn’t blame ANY oppressed minority for doing what he or she feels must do to ensure the survival of herself or her children . . . including marriage, to put us back on topic . . .

  96. Mandos

    To give a concrete example, and to take it back to Condi Rice, it’s not like Rice had no choices. I mean, she COULD very well have become by now a settled tenured professor at a big-name university, by all accounts, in something like Russian Studies. This would not have been very difficult for her. But instead, she’s chosen to become one of George Bush’s political handlers, a position she would really have to have *chosen* and *wanted*.

    In this, she ain’t no victim. And she ain’t no collaborator. She’s definitely the regime.

  97. Nancy


    We care what Emerson wrote because, though a guy, he was, I believe, smarter than all of us.

    I believe he alludes to same-sex friendships because he wrote in a time when friendships between men and women were not common or proper.

    Check this: back then friendships between men were characterized by something other than chest-butting and howling “booya” at strip clubs!

    If it is indisputable that Emerson was excluding male-female friendship – and that still hasn’t been settled to my satisfaction – but if it is, then Emerson was strictly a man of his times. But his contemporary John Stuart Mill was clearly a man ahead of his time, evident by his On the Subjection of Women.

    And as such, Emerson’s intellectual superior.

    On what basis do you place your belief in Emerson’s intellectual superiority?

    * * * * * * *

    From Mill’s “On the Subjection of Women” 1869:

    “Standing on the ground of common sense and the constitution of the human mind, I deny that anyone knows, or can know, the nature of the two sexes, as long as they have only been seen in their present relation to one another. If men had ever been found in society without women, or women without men, or if there had been a society of men and women in which the women were not under the control of the men, something might have been positively known about the mental and moral differences which may be inherent in the nature of each. What is now called the nature of women is an eminently artificial thing — the result of forced repression in some directions, unnatural stimulation in others.”

  98. darkymac

    Nancy, Nancy, Nancy

    There you go again. Redefining the terms of the dialogue.
    This is not an entertaining move.
    In the first place Twisty’s “smarter than us” you have dodged.
    Secondement you interdeuce another eminent writer (another in the company of Emerson and Twisty, that is), the dotty scotty’s son Mills and make the large chasm jump of making him Emerson’s “intellectual superior” on the basis of a single, even if laudable, observation on sexual politics.
    Thirdly you want anybody to indulge in a comparison of the works of two vewy vewy prolific writers in a comments thread on feminism?
    Sink me lass if under your rules I can’t interdeuce a spot of Emerson’s pal, and correspondent until he croaked, Thos. Carlyle:

    Under all speech that is good for anything there lies a silence that is better. Silence is deep as eternity; speech is shallow as time.

  99. Twisty

    When it was placed on a scale–sometime after, one presumes, his death–John Stuart Mill’s brain famously weighed in at about 87 pounds. But I don’t know what that has to do with the size of Emerson’s brain.

  100. delphyne

    “You missed my point. I was blurring the lines between the collaborators and the regime.”

    I know you were Mandos, you want to keep the focus off the real perpetrators and share the blame amongst everybody. It’s a good trick when you are trying to prop up the patriarchy, you can wring your hands and pretend that everybody is to blame so what can be done.

    If you were really interested in criticising the patriarchy you’d be talking about all the white men in Bush’s government, instead you choose to focus on the one black woman. Of course that’s one of the purposes why she’s been placed there. Again, a good trick.

    Tisha, sorry to misinterpret your post, I get antsy when the conversation keeps turning to how women are to “blame” for the patriarchy whilst totally ignoring who is really responsible.

  101. Mandos

    “If you were really interested in criticising the patriarchy you’d be talking about all the white men in Bush’s government, instead you choose to focus on the one black woman. Of course that’s one of the purposes why she’s been placed there. Again, a good trick.”

    Uh, the internet is full of talk about all the white men in the regime. It would have been kind of irrelevant to talk about them here, in a discussion specifically about collaborators… It would have been a whole other discussion. The form of your argument is as follows:

    D. Men are responsible for patriarchy. Women are merely collaborators.
    M. [gives evidence for a woman being independently responsible for patriarchy]
    D. How dare you even *mention* a woman? Obviously you are simply trying to deflect!

    So naturally any argument I can give you can simply deflect by impugning my motives, regardless of whether the argument is valid or not! In the meantime, no woman has any agency whatsoever, apparently. That’s really very odd.

  102. Beth

    Men arent so different from women. We all want some lovely person to share a life with, we all want lots of great sex, we all want a little freedom to be ourselves, we all want to have the security of being in a long term relationship. The myth that women badger unwilling men into marriage only continues the arguement that men are pathetic and useless, and women are nagging house-wife ball and chains.
    Please just accept that men and women both want love, and that men and women both enjoy lots of sex!

    (please note that I am generalising, so if you are a man who does not want anyone to love them, or to love someone back, or if you are a woman who doesnt enjoy sex above doing the laundry, I fully apologise to you – hang on, no I don’t. Please get a life!)

  103. Nancy


    But I don’t know what that has to do with the size of Emerson’s brain.

    Mills was ahead of his time, Emerson it seems, was not. On that basis, Mill was Emerson’s intellectual superior.

    So why shouldn’t we consider Mill’s views over Emerson’s?

    But more importantly, why do you think Emerson was “smarter than all of us.”

    Or am I expected to just take your word for it, since it is your blog.

  104. Nancy


    Nancy, Nancy, Nancy

    There you go again. Redefining the terms of the dialogue.
    This is not an entertaining move.

    I haven’t experienced such a gratuitous repetition of my name since the last time I had sex.

    But if you want to talk entertainment, well, your posts are surely not. Your excessive self-regard blights your attempts at repartee.

    I have to wonder if you aren’t merely Mandos’s sock puppet.

    In any case, I have no motivation to respond to you here on out.

  105. Mandos

    Dear Nancy,

    Didn’t you know? EVERYONE is my sock puppet.

    Yrs,
    –Mandos.

  106. darkymac

    Didn’t you know? EVERYONE is my sock puppet.

    Certainement tricoté.

  107. acm

    Yet we all believe (oh and I am so loathe to say “we all believe,” based on a particular person in my office telling me “EVERYone knows” such-and-such the other day) that we’ll be miserably lonely without a guy.

    is that really the motive? I find that I have no problem being single, and yet I value all of my close relationships, be they platonic or romantic. there just happens to be something meaningful about making a lifetime commitment to a partner, whether or not you get the state to sanction it, that transforms the relationship and adds dimensions that aren’t there otherwise (obviously, time adds dimensions as well, as do children, but each of the three is separable) — even if it is infused with optimism that isn’t supported by statistics.

    disparagement of “old maids” is despicable, but it doesn’t follow that an individual’s desire to commit to a life partner may be worth celebrating.

    …the reason so many Santorums (santori?) get out of control about gay marriage and feel marriage needs to be defended is because same-gender marriage introduces an egalitarian model of partnership. Lots of obsession about “who wears the pants” in the lesbian marriage or “who is on top” in the gay marriage from this crowd.

    fascinating addition — hadn’t thought about it in that way, but it fits with a lot of other things that seem to threaten needlessly…

    If you chose to use the vehicle of marriage to be in relationship – then the challenge lies in how you shape it to your values.

    aaahhhhh, now we’re getting somewhere.

  108. baby metropolis

    I love being married in spite of my belief that it’s an economically outmoded, heterosexist institution and the nuclear family encourages limiting social support networks to a destructive degree.

    Go figure.

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