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Nov 05 2005

The Maiden Aunt Explains Patriarchy

Twistyasshole

There’s been no dearth of animated discussion on the recent post in which I posited that marriage is a fucking patriarchal-ass institution that I wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot mole. Some folks got their bratwursts in a knot because they are married to princes who respect women and share equally in diapering and toilet cleaning. Some seemed to imagine that I was attacking the whole idea of heterosexual pairing-off. I was also accused of man-hating.

See here. The patriarchy I blame isn’t people, it’s a system. It is a hierarchical system of dominance at the gilded pinnacle of which pink-faced male captains of industry luxuriate, and at the rat-infested bottom of which poor brown women die screaming in filth and penury. In between are sub-hierarchies, but one constant obtains across all class, cultural and geographical lines: within any given hierarchy, women are consistently relegated to the lowest possible status.

And the rich white guy outranks everybody.

So check this out: I’m blaming patriarchy, not impugning the feminist credentials of women who, for whatever reason, decide to get married. Or carry tiny handbags. We all do what we gotta do.

The truth is, everybody, even those of us whose hobby it is to lounge around all day questioning the patriarchal origins of human behavior, contributes on some level to the sustenance of patriarchy. I, for instance, am at this very moment listening to Digital Underground’s "Packet Man"–damn those catchy sexist orgy-centric beats!– while wearing sweatpants that were made by Chinese slave labor in the Northern Mariana Islands. Earlier today I mocked people–I mean, what choice did I have?– who use the word "womyn." Later today I will catapult the lithe Twisty bod into the penismobile that gets about 4 miles a gallon (that I bought instead of the more pious Priapus) and tool at breakneck speed, while flipping off as many moron drivers as possible, to my most recent niece’s christening, which will transpire in a fucking church–a  fucking Catholic church–where the officiant is an octogenarian priest/family friend fond of alluding to me, to everyone’s unbridled amusement, as "the maiden aunt."

See, the patriarchal system remains in firmly place because so many of its principles are so deeply ingrained by social and operant conditioning that they have become invisible, and are therefore regarded as "natural," or harmless good fun, and/or necessary for health and survival.

Here are just a few of the insidious lies, bullshit ideas, and bogus institutions, that everybody takes for granted, that sprang to mind in about two minutes. Feel free to add your own.

Christenings, priests, and churches

If you work really hard you can get rich.

Men and women are vastly different.

Harriet Miers’ gender had nothing to do with it.

History is true.

People should drive obnoxious sportscars that get about 4 miles to a gallon.

Men should have a say in the destiny of the human uterus.

Embryos = babies.

Iraqi lives are more or less expendable.

Beauty is an absolute.

Bands should do Beatles covers.

We get the leaders we deserve.

Wrinkle cream works.

Girls Gone Wild

There is such a thing as an edible peach.

Columbus discovered America.

Self-esteem is a consummation devoutly to be wish’d.

"In regards to" is proper English.

Grocery stores are designed for convenience.

Jesus

Americans are free.

The nuclear family

Camembert imported to the US is authentic.

Marriage

Progress

Monogamy

Huge cans are sexy.

Prisons benefit society.

Dogs want to please humans.

You are a rugged individualist.

Gay male fashion designers adore women.

There are only two genders.

Recycling makes a difference.

Women have made huge strides toward equality.

Women should put this abortion thing on hold while we work out the important shit.

Pole dancing is empowering.

Spending 45 minutes doing hair and makeup every morning is "fun."

The cosmos gives a fuck.

92 comments

7 pings

  1. Knotted Knickers

    Twisty, you’re fucking brilliant. I’m gonna stop teaching my “women’s and gender studies” classes at university, and just make my students read your blog everyday.

    But how to assign grades at the end of the term??

  2. Buffalo Gal

    Sorry if this is a duplicate, but my previous attempt seems to have disappeared.

    There is such a thing as an edible peach, when local fruit is in season. I buy from the farmers’ market, eat a peach every day, and freeze some for the fall. A ripe peach is the sexiest fruit there is.

  3. chessie

    I too would like to vouch for the farmer’s market ripe peaches

  4. Tammy

    Now how on earth am I supposed to fit all that on a shirt? I know, y’all need to make a desk calendar. “A Blame a Day” or “A Lie Our Elders Told Us a Day”. Big seller girl, you are seriously missing the boat here.

  5. J. Ascher

    The Constitution is a work of genius, or even a fine document, worthy of merit, created by geniuses known as the people.

  6. Easily Annoyed

    within any given hierarchy, women are consistently relegated to the lowest possible status

    Heck, you don’t even have to have more than one sex in that hierarchy; if everybody’s the same sex, the girly become (perhaps proxy) women and get stepped on by the (perhaps proxy) men, by and large.

    Just yesterday, Republic of Dogs had a fine note about this as it pertains to gay men. And within the queer women’s communities I’ve seen, patriarchy is recapitulated as butch dyke privilege. The rationalization (and there’s always a rationalization) is that bisexuals and femmes are so chockablock with het privilege that — or so I have been informed — we ought to suck it up, accept our natural subservient place, and regard those pure, unsullied butch dykes as our wise leaders. (And was that ever a surprise to me. I came out for this shit? I don’t think so.) Lesbians who say they can avoid patriarchy through separatism are crazy, unobservant, or have something to gain.

  7. d.e.i.x.i.s.

    Why am I not making out with you RIGHT now?

  8. Chris Clarke

    “Twisty Faster” is actually an anagram of J. Alfred Prufrock.

    Dogs want to please humans.

    I’m completely on board with blaming the barkyarchy, but this dog-bashing is going too far. Sic ‘er, Bertie.

  9. ursa

    Beautiful women have it easy. Famous people are happy . Face lifts look good. Horses enjoy being ridden . Animals can’t understand language. Men think women are beautiful. Girls want it. Rome civilised Britain . The British were not Roman slaves. Rome civilised anywhere. Men don’t love each other. some men don’t chase sheep. The Greeks invented democracy. Alexander the Great was not defeated by an Ethiopian queen. People create their own illnesses. Louisa Hay. Governments are not run by big corporations. Positive thinking. Vaccines are never dangerous. War doesn’t change y chromosomes.

  10. Kyra

    Everyone not Christian is evil, misguided, and going to Hell.

    Especially Pagans, ’cause they’re evil and have orgies and worship the devil and molest and sacrifice children.

    Pro-choice is pro-abortion.

    The abortion industry makes billions of dollars every year, and if you go to Planned Parenthood for anything they’ll push you to have an abortion so they can make more money and also because they hate babies.

    You’ll be much happier if you save it for marriage.

    You’ll be much happier if you’re completely innocent on your wedding night.

    Happiness is being a Godly, submissive wife.

    And mother.

    Date rapes are all misunderstandings and accidents.

    Other types of rapes are all the woman’s fault.

    All child molestation is done by homosexuals or Satan worshippers (aka “pagans”).

    The Occult is out to seduce your children!

    Pregnancy and childbirth are good punishments for sex before marriage.

    Harry Potter is evil incarnate.

    America is perfect, anyone who says otherwise is a traitor, and any imperfections are the fault of liberals.

    Feminists, gays, environmentalists, and pagans caused 9/11.

    Pat Robertson is a good person.

    George Bush is a strong wartime president who has our country’s best interests at heart.

    We don’t need checks and balances—what, don’t you trust the government?

    Compassionate conservatives exist.

    We liberated Iraq.

    We have plenty of rainforest left, so don’t mind our logging operations.

    The Founding Fathers got everything right.

    Columbus Day is worthy of celebration.

    A woman’s hymen is her most important part.

    If you’re not already in a relationship, you have no reason to say no when a man asks you out.

    If you’re not already in a relationship, you have no reason to say no when a man asks you for sex.

    If you say no for any other reason, you’re a lesbian.

    If you turn him on, that counts as consent.

    Men never lie about rape, only women.

    Don’t do that, it isn’t ladylike.

    Birth control denies a woman’s biological destiny.

    What, can’t you feminists take a joke?

    CONTINUE AD NAUSEUM. (If necessary.)

    Gods, I’m almost ashamed to sign my name to the above list of bullshit.

  11. Kyra

    Ursa, tell me more about this Ethiopian queen conquering Alexander. For some reason my history classes seem to have left this out. (Imagine that.)

    “Oh, no, we’re not going to have any casualties.” —George W. Bush to Pat Roberton about starting a war in Iraq.

  12. Paris

    The Doctor knows best.

    Science is objective.

    Tom Cruise is attractive, straight and a talented actor.

  13. Dr. Virago of Quod She

    Love ya for mocking the spelling “womyn”! Most excellent!

    But hey, don’t blame Jesus for centuries of Christian bullshit. Blame Paul. All Jesus was was a peace-loving mama’s boy and confirmed bachelor whose best friends were (aside from his mother) a beautiful young man (John, his beloved) and a former prostitute. He was just a nice Jewish queer boy. It was Paul who added the bullshit in his Epistles, *especially* the misogynist bullshit.

    Huh. I never realized how much Jesus and his disciples were like the Beatles. Fucking Paul.

  14. femme feral

    very funny.

    I live near austin too! in kyle. glad to find you.

  15. rose

    Might makes right.
    the best defense is an offence.
    this will sting just a little.
    I’m only telling you this because I care about you.

  16. Duane

    Bumper stickers for your penismobile (not copywrited):

    There is no god but Aphrodite, and Priapus is her profit.

    I vote Pro-Life; nuke Iraq!

    Santy Claus loves me, this I know,
    for the tooth fairy tells me so.

    Manson/Squeaky in ’08.

  17. Anonymous

    Here are three that pissed me off royally very recently:

    You can’t criticize the sexist, partriarchial actions of another country because you live in a country that is also sexist and patriarchial.

    You can’t criticize the sexist, patriarchial actions of this country because there are other countries that are more sexist and patriarchial than the U.S.

    You can’t criticize the sexist, patriarchial beliefs of other people/countries/religions because this would be trying to assert your cultural views on someone else.

  18. Tony Patti

    Women get what they deserve, the uppity bitches!

    A real stomach turner, and it encapsulates many of the other ideas.

    I’m always glad to read once again the liberating yet dismal truth about the patriarchy being an inescapable system, not something I am personally responsible for. It really clears the decks for real improvement in one’s life to just get over the insoluble problem of where to place the blame and start trying to see things from any other perspective than male hegemony.

    Blame the patriarchy, and open your eyes to why you do the things you do. Rinse, then repeat.

  19. Wordlackey

    I’m on the same page as you re: marriage and patriarchy. It’s been a pet peeve of mine that it’s an unredeemable institution founded on treating women as chattel and slaves owned by men. No matter how people and the law try to tweak it, it remains a horrorshow.

    I think a lot of people confuse critiques of marriage (the legal institution) with critiques of their personal relationships, that such criticism is aimed at their choice of marriage. (Well, actually I *am* being a _little_ critical…)

  20. Hissy Cat

    People wouldn’t need Prozac if they’d just buck up and stop whining.

    Mushroom is an appropriate flavor for ice cream.

    Sometimes, helping you isn’t the best way to help you.

    It’s not you, it’s me.

    I love you.

    Bananas

  21. Nancy


    Men and women are vastly different.

    But I can’t resist asking – if men and women are not so vastly different – and I agree that they are not vastly different – what does it mean when you say that you aren’t sure that men are capable of love?

    Does that mean you aren’t sure that women are capable of love either, being not so vastly different from men – or is this one of the ways that men and women differ?

    I can’t help but press you on this point – I don’t know if one could call it “man-hating” exactly, but to say that you aren’t sure that men are capable of love is pretty remarkable – unless you were engaging in literary hyperbole.

  22. Erin

    If you don’t [shave your legs, dye your hair, paint your nails, carry a purse], no one will ever find you attractive.

    If you go places by yourself, whatever happens will be at least a little bit your fault.

    If you are a mother, you are completely capable of shaping your child’s personality; anything negative about him/her is because of something you did or failed to do.

    You can make other people happy, if you try hard enough.

    Other people can make you happy, if you’d just let them.

    Wanting to be alone means there’s something wrong with you.

    If there’s something wrong with you, there’s a product that will fix it.

    Straight men are only attracted to one kind of woman; this attraction is entirely physical, and .00000001 percent of the population fits the description. If a straight man says he loves you and you’re not in that fraction of a percent, then he’s probably waiting for something better.

    Men love with their eyes and their penises.

    Women can’t trust other women.

    Men can’t trust women.

    Women can’t trust men.

    Men can only trust their buddies.

    Teenaged girls are poisonous.

    Teenaged boys have no brains.

    All differences between men and women can be found, if not in the genitals, in the brain. These differences all work to ensure that men of all ages chase teenaged girls, and women who are not teenaged girls develop intense and manipulative methods to keep men around. Because without men and their material resources, women and children would all die, or become moral degenerates.

    How’m I doing?

  23. ck

    you can’t be president if you don’t end every fucking spech with “god bless america”

  24. Easily Annoyed

    If you do [shave your legs, dye your hair, paint your nails, carry a purse], you’re stupid and weak. Expensive, teetery shoes are incredibly important. Being attractive, all the time, is incredibly important. Punks are scary. Women’s unshaved legs are scary. Overweight women are scary. Overweight, unshaved punk women are too terrifying to imagine. Everybody looks at porn, and if you don’t, there’s something very wrong with you. Married women can’t stand up to anybody, and they’re all stupid. Freaking the mundanes is always good clean ethical fun. The people, united, will never be defeated. Women should be less cautious because it’s offensive to men. Your sex drive is too high. Your sex drive is too low. Your sex drive is too inconvenient. Women’s bodies aren’t “real” unless they’re at least size 14. Perfume is delightful. Botox is sensible. Honesty is the best policy. No act of kindness is ever wasted.

  25. shannon

    Africa had no culture or technology until the wonderful Europeans saved them from their horrid horrid lives.

    Slavery is a good thing because it’s good for blacks.

    Being non white automatically makes you terrible at jobs and unsuited for college.

    Women with hairy pussies smell bad.

    White men are victims of oppression because people get mad when they call people offensive slurs.

    Whites are automatically qualified to talk about anyone and everyone’s shortcomings.

    If you’re not good at math, you’re stupid and worthless.

    Attractive women aren’t good at math.

    If one member of the oppressed group isn’t offended by racism/sexism/classism/whatever else, it’s perfectly ok.

  26. nicky

    Women are responsible for their own breast cancer. They must have either eaten the wrong thing, not exercised enough, had a drink at some point in their lives, or smoked, or worn a too-tight bra, or had a night-shift job, or taken aspirin, or had an abortion, or taken HRT, or started their periods at the wrong age, or gone into menopause at the wrong age, or breast-fed their children, or not breast-fed their children, or not have been breast-fed, or (horror of all horrors) never had children at all, or ANYTHING other than having been a victim (oh yes, VICTIM) of the patriarchal pollution-loving paradigm.

    Look out kid, it’s somethin’ YOU did. God knows when, but you’re doin’ it again.

  27. madwoman in the attic

    This is wonderful.
    Hello Twisty (and everyone). I’ve been reading here for weeks now and loving it. My contribution to the lies and bullshit list:

    Men have a biological need to look at anonymous naked women and it’s their godgiven right to do so.

    Pornography reduces the incidence of rape. Without pornography more women/girls would get raped.

    Women dress for other women.

    Men can’t work washing machines/wash dishes properly/pick up their own dirty laundry/shop sensibly for groceries/ask for directions when they’re lost/cry because they have testicles. They can pilot sky rockets but they can’t do the mundane. They’re testicularly prohibited.

    The naked female form is more aestheticlly pleasing that the naked male form.

    Size doesn’t matter.

  28. Mandos

    “War doesn’t change y chromosomes.”

    Huh? I don’t get it. Is this a statement about evolution?

  29. Charles

    I know this is a little late, but: Mushroom ice cream?

  30. Christopher

    “But hey, don’t blame Jesus for centuries of Christian bullshit. Blame Paul. All Jesus was was a peace-loving mama’s boy and confirmed bachelor whose best friends were (aside from his mother) a beautiful young man (John, his beloved) and a former prostitute. He was just a nice Jewish queer boy. It was Paul who added the bullshit in his Epistles, *especially* the misogynist bullshit.”

    Are we considering Jesus here as an ordinary man, or as the son of god? Because for a son of god, he was pretty shitty. As a normal person… eh, he had his moments.

    Which leads me to my stupid thing:

    It’s not okay to criticise religious people because they mean well.

  31. The Fat Lady Sings

    Well put. You see, I truly abhor the way men and women are portrayed in our culture. I have been bellyaching about this to anyone who’d listen for years. One of my biggest peeves is how family life is portrayed in commercials and on TV shows. Wife as mommy gets out of her sick bed because daddy as child cannot even iron his shirt. Mommy as head of household, along with her children, works unceasingly while husband as lead weight sleeps the day away, only to expect to get waited on hand and foot. Mommy/wife doles out medicine to children/husband because he is either too stupid or too childish to determine the course of his own life.

    Get my drift? Frankly, I don’t know why men stand for being infantilized like that – and I can tell you I am SO over the whole wife as mother crap I could scream! Who thinks this shit up? Not women, I’m sure. Male advertising executives, like the oh so swift asshole you mentioned in a previous post. Almost every ½ hour comedy features some shlub milking dubious comedy out of treating his wife like a slave. One even featured the ‘hilarious’ scene of a guy being lauded for getting his wife to do all the work on her birthday and thanking him for it. It made me so sick I wanted to hurl right then and there.

    Yes – this is a patriarchal society – right down to its toes. Females are considered the lesser gender. Think I’m wrong? What about the recent survey that found of those couples interested in choosing the sex of their child, the majority said they wanted, you guessed it, BOYS. As for marriage – men benefit much more than women. Women are still the primary care givers, and the primary house holders. What I mean is, of all the woman I have known in my life, family and friends, it was the woman who managed everything from the children’s lunches to the family finances, usually while holding down an outside job as well.

    The only way to address gender equality is to tackle it through culture manipulation. Stop showing men and women constantly at odds. I’d like to see more Cosby and Bernie Mac and less The King of Queens, thank you very much. Drop those horrible commercials that showcase men’s supposed laziness, and replace them with something less misogynistic. Yes – I thing portraying men as having less character than women is misogynistic. It makes women responsible for EVERYTHING – including the negative. If a man is really a child, how can he be held responsible? Oh – don’t get me started – this subject just makes me crazy. Anyway – you are right, Twisty. It’s wrong. And it’s got to stop.

  32. jenofiniquity

    Wanting to have anonymous sex/more than a few sex partners/a life apart from your children/to be comfortable rather than sexy/alone/to read rather than do housework/a house that you can live in, not one that’s freakishly clean/ makes you an inferior woman.

  33. Chloe

    RE: Jesus/Mary Magdelane/John.
    Many scholars say that Mary Magdalene was NOT the prostitute mentioned elsewhere in the Bible. And there are even some who say that the beloved John was actually Mary Magdalene.

    At any rate, I don’t believe that Jesus believed in patriarchy (if you read Thomas, that’s even less likely)… and I also don’t think we should blame him for the abhorrant actions of Christians either.
    Blame each person for their own actions, or inactions, I say.

    And as horrifying as it seems to me, I think some people do think spending 45 minutes every morning “doing hair & make-up” is “fun”. I think most of them have been actors on Star Trek series though. ;)

  34. Twisty

    I allude to the deity Jesus, a fiction exploited by the dominant culture to dope, as The Chairman remarked, up the masses, incite them to war, enlsave women, and mock science.

    As a regular human the guy was, I suppose, pretty harmless, in a delusional nutjob sort of way.

  35. Twisty

    But I can’t resist asking – if men and women are not so vastly different – and I agree that they are not vastly different – what does it mean when you say that you aren’t sure that men are capable of love?

    Does that mean you aren’t sure that women are capable of love either, being not so vastly different from men – or is this one of the ways that men and women differ?

    I can’t help but press you on this point – I don’t know if one could call it “man-hating” exactly, but to say that you aren’t sure that men are capable of love is pretty remarkable – unless you were engaging in literary hyperbole.

    I’ll try it again: Women and men are members of the same species. We are more alike than we are different.

    When I say I don’t know if men are capable of love, I mean I question whether it is possible for a class of oppressors to love their oppressed, on accounta the fundamental inequality. Although I suppose it all depends on what your definition of “love” is. If, as Ali McGraw suggested to Ryan O’Neal, it means never having to say you’re sorry, then I’m TOTALLY right.

  36. Twisty

    I know this is a little late, but: Mushroom ice cream?

    This one freaked me out, too.

  37. Steph

    Here’s another:

    Sexuality only has two options and there’s nothing in between.

  38. Ron O.

    Feminism hurts men.

    Men always lose in divorce.

    Neckties.

    Inept slubs marry smart, hot women.

    Caring for a baby is unmanly.

    Football builds character.

  39. ursa

    Kyra. There are various legends about this told from different view points. Mero was a world power, ruled by queens called Candace, another Candace fought the armies of Augustus . See Black women in antiquity by Ivan Van Sertima.

    A recent survey in central Asia found at least 8% of Asian men possess virtually the same Y chromosome suggesting a single father for the sixteen million male descendants. He lived about a thousand years ago and scientists think Genghis Khan a most likely candidate. from Frans De Waal primatologist. See also Adams Curse by Brain Sykes professor of genetics at oxford.

  40. Hillevi

    Lies:
    Diamonds and flowers are physical manifestations of love.
    Dogs are just furry humans.
    She’s a prick tease.
    Physical disabilities signify diseased spirits.
    Cooties.
    Fat=Lazy.
    Every little girl dreams of her wedding day.
    Every little boy dreams of being the quarterback.
    Kissing it makes it better.
    Father knows best.

  41. Mandos

    Ooooh, like THAT. (re y chromosomes)

    How does that relate to patriarchy? (ie, why would someone have a vested interest in suppressing that information?)

  42. mythago

    And within the queer women’s communities I’ve seen, patriarchy is recapitulated as butch dyke privilege.

    Get out more. There are plenty of queer women’s communities where being butch at all is considered evil male-identified privilege-seeking, almost as bad as being femme, whereas the enlightened people go for the androgynous look.

  43. kathe

    Have a look at http://www.shekhinah.net/

    This lady seems to be quite the loony, but she has a great idea: “We believe that men are women too, and if they only knew this, the human world would do a flipflop of transformation.”

  44. Nancy


    When I say I don’t know if men are capable of love, I mean I question whether it is possible for a class of oppressors to love their oppressed, on accounta the fundamental inequality.

    So you mean you don’t know if men are capable of loving women.

    Which I guess means you don’t necessarily rule out men being capable of loving other men.

    But perhaps, as others have suggested, you aren’t talking about individual human beings but are speaking in abstract metaclasses which have no connection to individual human behavior.

    But if you are talking about human behavior, I maintain that individual human men are capable of loving other creatures, including women, regardless of inequalities.

    Of course it all depends on how you define ‘love’ – if you automatically rule out that emotion except between two equals that raises alot of other questions, especially about the relationship between parents and children.

    But I wonder – do you think the Patriarchy is something that can be analyzed, its weaknesses exploited, and its grasp on humanity weakened or even broken entirely, or do you think that’s just a feminist fantasy and the Patriarchy is too firmly entrenched and just something we must learn to live with, albeit unhappily, ever after? Or something in-between?

    I realize analysis and debate can be tedious, and really, you’re doing a service to all Patriarchy-blamers with your vastly entertaining and compelling rants, so if you’d rather spend your time doing that than analysis and debate, I can hardly complain.

    Rant on!

  45. Easily Annoyed

    There are plenty of queer women’s communities where being butch at all is considered evil male-identified privilege-seeking, almost as bad as being femme, whereas the enlightened people go for the androgynous look.

    Yuck. I didn’t come out for that shit either.

    And since I am a grouchy Winona Ryder type who looks inexplicably femme even with a shaved head and combat boots, I skip any scene that has “almost as bad as being femme” involved. I’ve put up with enough of that in my time, and I’ve got better places to be.

  46. Nancy

    As a regular human the guy was, I suppose, pretty harmless, in a delusional nutjob sort of way.

    Jesus was a messianic warrior. As anthropologist Marvin Harris noted in his book “Cows, Pigs, Wars and Witches”

    — Harris quote —

    The lifestyle consciousness shared by Jesus and his inner circle of disciples was not the lifestyle consciousness of a peaceful messiah. Although the gospels clearly intend to deny Jesus the capacity to carry out violent political acts, they preserve what seems to be an undercurrent of contradictory events and sayings which link John the Baptist and Jesus to the military-messianic tradition and implicate them in the guerrilla warfare. The reason for this is that by the time the first gospel was written, nonpeaceful events and sayings which had been attributed to Jesus by eyewitnesses and by unimpeachable apostolic sources were widely known among the faithful. The writers of the gospels shifted the balance of the Jesus cult’s lifestyle consciousness in the direction of a peaceful messiah, but they could not entirely expunge the traces of continuity with the military-messianic tradition. The ambiguity of the gospels in this regard is best demonstrated by arranging some of Jesus’ most peaceful statements in one column and the unexpected negations in another:

    Blessed are the peacemakers. (Matthew 5:9)

    Think not that I am come to send peace on earth, I come not to send peace but a sword (Matthew 10:34)

    Whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. (Matthew 5:39)

    Suppose ye that I come to give peace on earth? I will tell you nay, but rather division. (Luke 12:51)

    All that take the sword shall perish with the sword (Matthew 26:52)

    He that hath no sword, let him sell his garments and buy one. (Luke 22:36)

    Love thine enemies; do good to them that hate you. (Luke 6:27)

    And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them out of the temple… and poured out the changer’s money and overthrew the tables. (John 2:15)

    I should also note at this point the obviously false construction traditionally given to what Jesus said when he was asked if Jews ought to pay taxes to the Romans: “Render unto Caeser that which is Caesar’s and unto God that which is God’s.” This could mean only one thing to the Galileans who had participated in Judas of Galilee’s tax revolt – namely, “Don’t pay.” For Judas of Galilee had said that everything in Palestine belonged to God. But the authors of the Gospels and their readers probably knew nothing about Judas of Galilee, so they preserved Jesus’ highly provocative response on the mistaken assumption that it showed a genuinely concilliatory attitude toward the Roman government.

    — end Harris quote —-

    Jesus was one of many other would-be messiahs who tried to kick the Romans out of Palestine – and not by non-violent means.

    He wanted a kingdom right here on Earth – it was the PR guys who wanted to ease tensions with the Roman Empire who presented him long after his death as the prince of peace. And a very saavy move, since it led to the adoption of the Christ-cult by the Romans, and eventually to the Roman Catholic Church’s control over all of Europe for centuries.

  47. Josef K

    Upthread, Shannon posted:

    If you’re not good at math, you’re stupid and worthless.

    Attractive women aren’t good at math.

    How about:

    Math(s) is neutral
    Science is neutral

  48. Dr. Virago of Quod She

    Oh sweet lord, I wasn’t trying to start a *serious* discussion of Jesus, John, and Mary Magdalene. I was just being flip and trying to be kinda funny. What else were those 12 years of Catholic school hell good for?!

    Sigh. Sorry Twisty.

    Anyway here’s my contribution to the list:

    Men can’t express their emotions.
    Women are emotional creatures.
    Men can’t stop thinking about sex.
    “Proper” women don’t think about sex.

  49. shannon

    I don’t see how math and science being neutral are examples of stupid ideas.

  50. Charles

    Twisty said: “If, as Ali McGraw suggested to Ryan O’Neal, it means never having to say you’re sorry, then I’m TOTALLY right.”

    When Barbra Streisand said the same thing to Ryan O’Neal a year or two later (in What’s Up Doc), he responded, “That’s the stupidest thing I ever heard.”

  51. Buxom Broad

    They are not “man boobs” they’re pec implants!

  52. Josef K

    Shannon, I didn’t mean that it would be bad if maths and science were actually neutral. But I think the patriarchy refuses to acknowledge that it’s possible to load the supposedly unbiased disciplines of maths and science with political and/or emotional meaning. In practice, that meaning usually reinforces the prejudices of the dominant class.

    To give one example: school maths textbooks in Hitler’s Germany had problems along the lines of “A plane bombs Israel, the centre of international Jewry. Which bombing formation would kill the maximum number of Jews?” and “A stupid Polack begins digging a trench at 4pm…”

  53. darkymac

    Nancy, Nancy, Nancy
    But I wonder – do you think the Patriarchy is something that can be analyzed, its weaknesses exploited, and its grasp on humanity weakened or even broken entirely, or do you think that’s just a feminist fantasy and the Patriarchy is too firmly entrenched and just something we must learn to live with, albeit unhappily, ever after? Or something in-between?

    Read the archives.
    Attempt an appreciation of the form.
    Quietly though.

    I realize analysis and debate can be tedious,

    What analysis and what debate is tedious is a function of its participants.
    I’ve read a bit of spot-on and entertaining argumentation in this site.

    Your name hasn’t been on any of those posts yet.
    Perhaps you’d like to invite people to debate with you on your own terms in another forum?

    As Gloria Steinem said – and I paraphrase because I don’t trust that quotes in Google’s cache of quotable quotes are ever correctly attributed or reported – hope is a form of planning.
    I hope you return with a bit of cogent analysis.

  54. debby

    wow. i love you, twisty. this is so right on.

  55. Dim Undercellar

    [quote]“To give one example: school maths textbooks in Hitler’s Germany had problems along the lines of “A plane bombs Israel, the centre of international Jewry. Which bombing formation would kill the maximum number of Jews?”"[/quote]

    Isreal wasn’t founded as “the centre of international Jewry” until 1948, well after Hitler’s death and the defeat of Nazi Germany.

    IOW, I call bullshit.

    ON THAT EXAMPLE only, mind you – I agree that science, at least, can be way, way loaded to maleness. See Twisty’s Study Study for more examples.

  56. Finn

    >…and I also don’t think we should blame him for the abhorrant actions of Christians either.<

    “It’s not the band I hate, it’s their fans.”

    - Sloan/Chris Murphy, from the song “Coaxe Me” (in reference to the band Consolidated)

  57. tisha

    Howbout this for an oddball lie?

    Moneyed white men are all unredeemable assholes based solely upon their oppressor-class membership.

    So is this another lie of the patriarchy or just a counter-lie of radical feminism? HMMMM I am confused. Guess I’m not caffeinated enough. I’ll try again later.

  58. ehj2

    Nancy,

    If the term “conditional love” means anything at all, it is clearly associated with a “logical” masculine feeling of affection.

    A man can certainly “love” a woman the way he loves football or even his car … for being shiny and productive and useful … but I hope this is not the use of the term you were considering.

    A woman can love her children “unconditionally” and tends to direct unconditional affection to many areas of her life. The issue of equality is relevant here, but not on all fours. A woman loves her children even though she is in some sense “more than” equal to them and makes decisions for them. The difference is that she (in unconditional love) makes decisions that favor her children’s success over her own. Do men do this? Does society do this?

    You might ask — do men “love” women as children? We obviously live in a culture where men make the decisions; even the right to vote is a very recent phenomenon. That men “believe” they have the right make binding decisions about women’s bodies should suggest to you something other than love is involved. BitchPhD expresses this with inarguable fidelity, “The fact that abortion is even a debate in this country demonstrates that we do not trust women.”

    Women are almost chattel in much of the world. That some men and some countries rise slightly above this doesn’t change a fundamental darkness in the human psyche. There will always be those who treat their slaves better and think well of themselves in the bargain — without giving up having slaves.

    I proffer that your real question is misdirected — it is not the mindset of men and what they “say” in calm dulcet tones that should be persuasive to you, but in what they actually do.

    And your larger problem is that so many women are utterly blind to, and unconsciously supportive of, the patriarchal systems that cripple the world.

    /ehj2

  59. Nancy


    As Gloria Steinem said – and I paraphrase because I don’t trust that quotes in Google’s cache of quotable quotes are ever correctly attributed or reported – hope is a form of planning.
    I hope you return with a bit of cogent analysis.

    Could you be any more obnoxious if you tried?

    And as far as your discernment of cogent analysis – clearly you don’t recognize it when it’s bit you on the ass.

    Damn, you write one non-confrontational email and the jackals take it as a sign of weakness.

  60. Nancy


    If the term “conditional love” means anything at all, it is clearly associated with a “logical” masculine feeling of affection.

    Sorry, but I kinda have a problem with your entire post. Why do you put all those key words in quotations like that? Are you quoting someone or are you expressing doubt about the validity of the words in this context? Or something else?

    I don’t know why you say conditional love is a “‘logical’ masculine feeling of affection.”

    That statement makes no sense to me, with or without the quotations. No feelings are logical, and there are no exclusively masculine feelings.


    I proffer that your real question is misdirected — it is not the mindset of men and what they “say” in calm dulcet tones that should be persuasive to you, but in what they actually do.

    I previously asked Twisty if she based her assessment of men’s inability to love on words or actions. She didn’t respond to that directly – she didn’t respond to many of my questions directly, so much of what she thinks on this subject is still a mystery to me. But if you’re going to respond to an email I directed at her, it would speed up the discussion if you read the previous posts. Just a suggestion, not a demand.

    But dulcet tones or no, I maintain that my father loved my mother. They were married for 39 years when he died last year. My mother is an exceedingly difficult person and I can’t see how he put up with her, except for love. And by all his actions, he showed he loved her.

    But you didn’t know my father, so why should you believe me? So I offer instead Mr. Fred Rogers, whom probably most people on this thread know. I maintain that Mr. Fred Rogers loved his wife.

    So if you believe that men are incapable of loving women then you either:

    A. maintain this is impossible because women as a class are dominated by men as a class, regardless of the personal circumstances of individual people

    B. claim that Mr. Rogers was not actually a man

    C. claim that Mr. Rogers didn’t love his wife, in spite of having what appears to have been an affectionate and respectful relationship with her

    D. claim that one exception just proves the rule.

    But if there is one exception, how do you account for him? And I maintain that there are millions of exceptions. How many exceptions does it take before you DO disprove the rule?

    Although Patriarchy is inarguably the system under which we live, it has weakend somewhat over the last 40 years due to women, at least in North America and Europe, becoming financially independent of men in greater numbers each year. But also, in spite of the Patriarchy, there have always been men who have loved women.

    The fact that Twisty is so quick to question the ability of men to love women makes me wonder if Texas is more fucked up and backwards than I ever dreamed.

  61. BitingBeaver

    Lovin the list Twisty! Now, you just need to compile the biggest damn list of the century with all this stuff!

    My contribution…

    Women play ‘hard to get’

    Nagging a woman into sex isn’t rape

    “But he’s such a nice guy!” when telling of the violent S.O.B your X husband was

    Cleaning toilets is ‘Women’s work’

    Asking permission from a woman before sticking your dick in her is just “unromantic” and too “clinical”

  62. Hogan

    Patriarchy isn’t a “system”; it’s just the sum of men’s and women’s freely chosen individual behaviors. Ditto for white supremacy, whites and blacks.

    God wants you to be happy.

    Back in the African savannah thousands of years ago, the alpha hunter males were attracted to their dimwitted but hot personal female spear carriers and animal skinners, not to the high-IQ female gatherer CEOs.

    Our employees are our most valuable resource.

    All the trouble started in the ’60s.

    Low-fat tastes just as good.

  63. AB

    Oh! Oh! I have one!

    If a guy tries to rape you, whatever you do, don’t kick him in the balls. It’ll only make him *angrier*, and thus more likely to hurt you.

    Uh-huh.

  64. ehj2

    Nancy,

    That the phrase “conditional love” — which means no more than temporary regard based upon demonstrable utility — is accepted even nominally as a legitimate form of “love” … must be regarded as a symptom of how utterly patriarchal our culture remains. That you are confused by this is a symptom of how invisible the underpinings of patriarchy remain to most of those simply mired within it. Conditional love has as much to do with real love as poisoned food has to do with food.

    “Masculinity” is a term not restricted in use to men. Women (and objects; see marketing) can be termed “masculinized” … and thus conditional affection (or regard) is not restricted to men … but is defined in archetypal psychology as a characteristic of the masculine, logical, discriminating elements of the psyche.

    It is a disservice to your parents and your argument to include them in this conversation; most children have little entre into the mystery of their parents relationship and there is no reason for us to credential you as an acception. It is, however, almost a certainty that no one even thought to ask your father if he would consider a wedding vow that included the words “love, honor, and obey” — a phrase that emerges from a church-sanctioned “philosophy” demanding subservience from women rooted in an imagined “natural state ordained by God” that prevails in most of the world and in much of this country.

    (Sorry Twisty, I’ll wash my hands immediately just for writing those words.)

    Nancy, we’re on your side and we need you “awake.” It is not I who has failed to read all of what you have posted here, it is you who have ignored Twisty’s missive on the nature of this site — not a primer in feminism, but an advanced class in patriarchy blaming. Sometimes I cringe at what I read here. But I find too much truth to turn away.

    If you simply must remain unconscious and asleep — I Blame the Patriarchy.

    /ehj2

  65. Betsy

    The patriarchy renders both men and women less capable of loving each other in the true sense. Our motives are mixed: do I seek a male partner because I truly love and want one — THIS one –!, or because I like men, sort of, and I also like health insurance, and this man is, well, so much better than most, so how much better could I expect to do if I waited til the right one comes along, weighed against my declining value in the frightening “evpsych” sexual marketplace?

    Sheesh. No wonder there’s so little true love going around.

  66. ae

    Diamonds are a girl’s best friend.

    Sugar and spice and everything nice, etc.

    The “bootstraps” myth.

    This won’t hurt a bit.

    Everything happens for a reason.

  67. Xavier Harkonnen

    Nancy, Nancy, Nancy. Anecdotes are useless in the face of cold, hard ideology. Arise, Nancy! To arms! To arms!

  68. Josef K

    Dim Undercellar, you’re right. I found the real example I was thinking of:

    ‘A plane on take off carries 12 bombs, each weighing ten kilos. The aircraft makes for Warsaw, the centre of international Jewry. It bombs the town. On take off with all bombs on board and a fuel tank containing 1500 kilos of fuel the aircraft weighed 8 tonnes. When it returned from the crusade, there were still 230 tonnes of fuel left. What is the weight of the aircraft when empty?’

  69. Josef K

    …And who the hell is Mr Fred Rogers? And why do you guys all keep talking about him?

  70. WookieMonster

    Aw come on! MR. ROGERS

    It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood
    A beautiful day for a neighbor
    Would you be mine
    Would you be mine
    Won’t you be my neighbor?

    My guess is that the opposing side keeps bringing him up as an example of a truly sensitive guy. I’m not going to say he wasn’t for sure, but judging someone via a television persona is, shall we say suspect. And even if he was the shining paragon of non-sexist thought, he still benefited from being of the oppressor class as opposed to the oppressed.

  71. Josef K

    Thanks, Wookiemonster, although I must say I’m none the wiser even after Googling around. I’m not from the US, though. And I wasn’t allowed to watch much telly as a kid because my mum and dad thought it would get in the way of my translating Plutarch and writing symphonies. The result? I’m ignorant of massive chunks of popular culture. Oh, and I still don’t have a telly, so I’m getting further and further behind. Thank God for teh internets.

  72. Josef K

    Thanks, Wookiemonster, although I must say I’m none the wiser even after Googling around. I’m not from the US, though. And I wasn’t allowed to watch much telly as a kid because my mum and dad thought it would get in the way of my translating Plutarch and writing symphonies. The result? I’m ignorant of massive chunks of popular culture. Oh, and I still don’t have a telly, so I’m getting further and further behind. Thank God for teh internets.

  73. Josef K

    Thanks, Wookiemonster, although I must say I’m none the wiser even after Googling around. I’m not from the US, though. And I wasn’t allowed to watch much telly as a kid because my mum and dad thought it would get in the way of my translating Plutarch and writing symphonies. The result? I’m ignorant of massive chunks of popular culture. Oh, and I still don’t have a telly, so I’m getting further and further behind. Thank God for teh internets.

  74. Josef K

    Thanks, Wookiemonster, although I must say I’m none the wiser even after Googling around. I’m not from the US, though. And I wasn’t allowed to watch much telly as a kid because my mum and dad thought it would get in the way of my translating Plutarch and writing symphonies. The result? I’m ignorant of massive chunks of popular culture. Oh, and I still don’t have a telly, so I’m getting further and further behind. Thank God for teh internets.

  75. piny

    Sorry about your temporary disaffection from that stuff we won’t name.

    I love this post and the as-always interesting discussions in the comments thread, but I think you misunderstand why people get offended.

    It’s not, “You’re a bad feminist!” or, “You’re to blame!”

    It’s, “We all do what we gotta do.” Or, as I’ve seen it elsewhere, “We all make our deals.”

    It’s just as insulting to be forgiven for your unavoidably patriarchal actions as to be blamed for them, when you don’t happen to see them as patriarchal. I interpret Nancy’s comments to mean that she disagrees that marriage is patriarchy-supporting, not that her mom’s an unregenerate dupe collaborator for getting married. It’s not on the same level as wearing makeup to get bigger tips, or smiling at a spinster-baiting Catholic priest.

  76. Josef K

    Shit, my comment seems to have been posted four times for absolutely no reason that I can see. BAN TEH INTERNETS. And, er, sorry about that. Didn’t mean to spam you, Twisty.

  77. Erin

    Mister Rogers was my neighbor (no fooling). He was a wonderful man, but I really don’t understand the point of bringing him up. If the statement is that men (as a class with certain privileges within a patriarchal system), are unable on whatever level to love women (a class denied privileges by the male class), then I’m not sure how any one man figures into it.

    I guess it just isn’t that hard for me to hold in my head the idea that my partner loves me, but that men as a class do not often demonstrate what I would consider love to women as a class — in fact, quite the opposite. In my mind, the former doesn’t really do anything to disprove the latter.

    Here’s hoping this doesn’t post half a dozen times. Apologies in advance if it does.

  78. Zuska

    Here’s my favorite/pet peeve:

    Science is subjective and oppressive and harmful to women.

    In the math example given above, the Nazi ideology laden into the word problem is abhorent. But we should try to remember that actual addition and subtraction itself still exists, still works, can still be useful for good purposes. It’s one thing to critique the ideology of scientists and the ways in which they apply science and technology. It’s another thing to say that science and math themselves are therefore suspect. This kind of postmodern trashing of the ability to ever be able to objectively state that we know anything definitively has been extremely useful to right-wing fundamentalists who have been trashing science for their own purposes for years now. That trashing of science includes: promoting abstinence-only sex education for teens that also delivers lies about the effectiveness of condoms in preventing STDs; and, the intelligent design movement that is trying to wipe out the teaching of evolution in science classrooms; and, Republican senators harassing scientists who research global warming and discover things that are not favorable for oil companies. In all these examples, the right-wingers have said things that could have been coming out of the mouths of some feminists: the scientists are biased, their data is suspect because they just want to believe in global warming/evolution/promoting promiscuity. Science is not objective, say the right-wingers. The scientists contradict themselves. We don’t know for sure, we need more data. I nearly lose my mind everytime I hear a feminist say that vaccines don’t work or that vaccines can harm you. There is actual data in the world that we can examine, and there is the actual possibility of coming to conclusions based on that data. And some conclusions are more reliable than others. There is more than just what we want to believe. If not – how can we ever say anything conclusively about the patriarchy and its evils? Why believe what we say any more than those who say the opposite? I think the fact that so many feminists mistrust/fear/don’t understand science and don’t take science classes and don’t become scientists, is terrible for women and one of the great evils of our society. And for that – I Blame The Patriarchy.

  79. Josef K

    Zuska, good points, well made. Yes, there is actual scientific data, and we can come to conclusions based on that data. It is certainly possible for scientists to be neutral. The trouble is that the way science is taught, conducted and funded is not in any way neutral. And I blame the patriarchy for that.

    I too go nuts when I hear something along the lines of “Never mind what the scientists say – I’m a concerned mother!” or “Vaccines don’t work, because my newspaper said so.” But I can see why a lot of women have that mindset – because they recognise, quite correctly, that scientific research is rarely funded or published to benefit women.

    Having a soft spot for Alain Sokal doesn’t mean I can’t love Irigaray, right?

    Apologies in advance if this appears fourteen times.

  80. metamanda

    I know this is old but…

    >Ooooh, like THAT. (re y chromosomes)

    >How does that relate to patriarchy? (ie, why >would someone have a vested interest in >suppressing that information?)

    Mandos, I think it means war –> rape. Lots of it. But it’s, like, totally distasteful to discuss how all those y chromosomes got there, and also makes it harder for people to support war.

  81. littlem

    Digital Underground. oooooooo.

    Twisty, you know it’s not JUST the beats, right?

    That said, it’s not like I’m getting rid of my Funkadelic CDs anytime soon.

  82. littlem

    Upon further read (sorry) my contribution mayn’t be sufficient. To those not familiar with the genre, the lyrics in Digital Underground and P-Funk’s songs form some of the very bedrock of modern mainstream mysogynist hip-hop.

    Therefore, my contribution to this list will refer to the tendency of the patriarchal purveyors of pop culture and its attendant oppressive imagery to put the cr*p out “BECAUSE IT SELLS”.

    Bleah.

  83. Nancy


    Mister Rogers was my neighbor (no fooling). He was a wonderful man, but I really don’t understand the point of bringing him up.

    Yeah, apparently you and virtually everybody else here doesn’t get my point.

    So I’ll try again.

    If Twisty or anybody says they are not sure if men are capable of loving women, my response is that I know of at least two men who loved women. My father, and Mr. Rogers.

    As I already explained, you have to take my word for it about my father, so I mentioned Mr. Rogers too, because most Americans, at least, know who he is. And those who don’t know who he is can get off their lazy asses and do a 2-second Google search to find out.

    So there’s at least one man who loves women, Mr. Rogers.

    If we include your man and my father, that’s three.

    My question is, how many individual men who are capable of loving women does it take to prove that men “as a class” are capable of loving women?

    I’ve asked that question already, but nobody’s acknowledge it as far as I can tell. And to just repeat that we’re talking about men “as a class” is meaningless, unless you wish to deny that the class “men” is made up of individual human beings.

    And of course my question begs another question: how do we define “love”?

    If you wish to define love as being something that cannot possibly exist except between two equals, that’s fine. But as far as I can tell, nobody has bothered to do so yet. Of course that definition would beg other questions.

    Patriarchy is a hierarchical system that benefits males, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it renders men “as a class” incapable of love, depending on how you define love.

    That in no way indicates that I absolve Patriarchy of blame for a world that is hostile to female interests, in spite of those who leap to such a simplistic conclusion.

    Speaking of which, there’s EHJ2′s statement:


    Nancy, we’re on your side and we need you “awake.” It is not I who has failed to read all of what you have posted here, it is you who have ignored Twisty’s missive on the nature of this site — not a primer in feminism, but an advanced class in patriarchy blaming. Sometimes I cringe at what I read here. But I find too much truth to turn away.

    If you simply must remain unconscious and asleep — I Blame the Patriarchy.

    /ehj2

    There’s nothing I’ve ever posted on this board that would indicate that I don’t also blame the Patriarchy for many many things.

    And as far as needing me to “awake” – get the fuck over yourself. Asking people to explain with greater clarity and rationality their positions in no way indicates that I’m “unconscious.” Clearly you prefer to leap to insulting conclusions about me than try to understand what I’m actually saying. That, for once, is not Patriarchy’s fault.

    I very much admire Twisty and her literary/rant talents. But I don’t think she’s infallible and when she makes a statement I think it should be as up for questioning as anybody’s. Maybe even more so, since so much of what she says is truly righteous.

    If that makes me a heretic in the cult of Twisty, then c’est la fucking vie. If my quest for clarity ruins it for the rest of you, I’ll stop posting here. I don’t want to spoil the lovefest.

  84. Christopher

    Posted by: Dim Undercellar | November 07, 2005 at 07:55 AM

    >…and I also don’t think we should blame him for the abhorrant actions of Christians either.<

    Um, yeah, we fucking well should.

    He’s the son of God. He IS god. He can do better then this at getting people to do what he wants.

    Well, if we judge him by Christtian standards, anyway.

    Sorry, I’m tired, and it just bugs me how God gets credit for all the good things but never gets blame for the bad things.

  85. Mary

    Kyra. There are various legends about this told from different view points. Mero was a world power, ruled by queens called Candace, another Candace fought the armies of Augustus . See Black women in antiquity by Ivan Van Sertima.

    Hello Ursa,

    I am an amateur afficiando of Alexander the Great and have been since I was a child. You could fill a room with all the material I have read about him.

    While I have no doubt that Sertima did his homework, this legend is rather like the legend of Alexander’s infamous meeting with an Amazon queen, Thalestris, wherein they made love for 13 days and she bore him a male child because she wanted to have a child by the most powerful man in the world. It’s not at all true and it’s an example of one of many stories floating around about Alexander’s encounters with female rulers.

    I think the story of Mero, or Meroe as it is sometime spelled, is cobbled together from a number of sources, most of which have to do with Alexander’s two favorite heroes, the warrior Achilles and the Persian king, Cyrus the Great.

    There is also very likely a more sinister motive in the tale of Alexander’s alleged defeat at the hands of a female warrior, one that is not terribly complimentary to either Alexander or Meroe, but I’ll get to that in a moment.

    In the Illiad, Achilles met an Amazon queen in battle and defeated her (though there is some doubt that he actually killed her; there is another part of the Illiad floating around that has Achilles being defeated at the hands of the Amazon queen, though it was probably excised from the main script in much the same way that parts of the Bible were excised to reduce the presence of the sacred feminine) and Alexander, who kept a copy of the Illiad under his pillow, was known throughout his life to have greatly desired a meeting with a true Amazon queen, perhaps because he wanted to emulate his hero Achilles.

    Also, Alexander’s hero, Cyrus the Great, was killed in battle with the Massagetan queen Tomyris. It’s not terribly well-known that he died at the hands of a woman, but he did. Because Cyrus was so greatly admired by Alexander, it’s possible that this bit of history may have been the genesis of the Alexander tale.

    Alexander never actually crossed into Ethiopia when he arrived in Egypt in November of 332 BC. It was perhaps more than a rumor that he did consider marching into Ethhiopia in order to deal with a possible uprising by Nectanebo II, the last pharoah of Egypt, who had fled into Ethiopia to avoid Persian reconquest and was believed by the Egyptians to be ready to return and resume his rule, the post of which Alexander now held. Ethiopia was the border home of Nectanebo’s supporters, so it would have been a logical place to start. What is more true is that Alexander sent his historian, Callisthenes, south up the Nile to discover the true source of the Nile flooding. It is actually the first documented history of the discovery of the Nile source.

    Alexander’s time in Egypt was largely divided between the estalishment of the city of Alexandria and his visit to the oracle of Zeus Ammon at Siwa. He arrived in 332 and left in 331. There was no time for warfare. His stay there was more of a long holiday.

    It was said that the reason he crossed the punishing desert of Makran was because did have a strong desire to beat the record of Queen Samiramis in crossing the Makran desert; she and only a handful of survivors made it through, and he was known to want to beat her record and bring all of his troops and camp followers through. But he really went that route because it was the only way home. Still, a grain of truth blossoms into a legend, and always it comes back to the real truth: that Alexander loved Amazons so much, and so badly wanted to meet one, that any possibility or chance meeting was turned into something much greater than it was. He was either fathering children on them or being defeated by them, but he never did actually meet a female warrior of any kind, though he asked everywhere he travelled, so great was his desire to meet one.

    Alexander loved Amazons so much that he wore armour in the style of Amazonian queens. It is in the Royal diaries that his greatest lament was not meeting an Amazon queen in battle, and, had he done so, and lost, he would not have disguised that fact. He did retreat from one battle, and that was not really a hidden fact, so a defeat would not necessarily be excised from history. A careful study of the character of Alexander, which is as much a factor in history as anything else, would give a clear indication that he probably would have been extremely pleased to have met such a worthy opponent, and would have been over the moon with joy if his opponent was one of his beloved Amazons. If it sounds hard to believe, then you need to read Robin Lane Fox’s book about Alexander the Great, or Mary Renault’s books about the life of Alexander, in which his love of Amazons and Amazon culture is explored and explained in far more realistic terms. Simply put, he was besotted with them.

    You have to be careful when reading any source about Alexander, and you have to keep in mind the motives of each historian. Curtius, for example, almost never tells the truth and a number of false stories are traced back to him.

    You have to be especially careful with any story about Alexander’s defeat at the hands of a woman. Remember, the ancient Greeks feared female power greatly. They also hated Alexander with a passion because he defeated them and was their ruler for a couple of decades, which made them chafe to no end. One of their greatest war stories is the battle of Theseus against the Amazons who laid seige to the city of Athens and nearly destroyed it, which has historical truth behind it. When dealing with legends, you have to read between the lines with extreme caution. What might at first glance appear to be an overt act of sexism, say, the deliberate omission from accepted history of Alexander’s defeat at the hands of a female warrior, is probably more of a covert attempt to smear Alexander’s history by surreptitiuosly hinting, through a story that was ‘left out’ of the accepted history, that he was actually defeated by, of all things, a woman.

    Think about it. The real sexism is not that this legend was true but unaccepted history, but that it is an invented story that makes him look bad, because nothing is worse than losing to a woman. Xerxes, who fought with the warrior queen Artemisia at the battle of Salamis, once said of her vis a vis his own army: “My men fight like women and my women fight like men!” This was supposed to be a compliment to her and a put down to his men.

    In those days, and today, nothing is worse than losing to a woman or having her show you up in battle in any way. Remember Bily Jean King and Bobby Riggs’ showdown? So be careful with what looks like a sexist attempt to cut the histories of women over men from history. The real sexism is lurking just below the surface: that this is very likely a created story to make a male warrior look bad, and as such is not necessarily a flattering tale about a female warrior so much as a nasty put down of the abilities of both the male warrior and the female warrior (e.g., Alexander is not a ferocious world conqeurer, because a woman defeated him in battle, and everyone knows women can’t fight, so if a woman defeated him then he is nothing because she herself is of no consequence, being a woman. I’m sure you are familiar with that ugly and baseless logic!). It’s a smear tactic worthy of Karl Rove.

    And as for the city of Meroe being a world power…well, it’s quite true that it was the capital of Kush for close to 900 years, but by the time of Alexander, Kush was already in decline. It crumbled completely after the armies of Aksum, another kingdom of Ethiopia, defeated it in 350 BC. Alexander had been near Ethiopia just twenty years prior to that. His army was unlike any on earth at that point: had he truly gone to war with people who were still using bronze weapons, and had nothing like his seige engines and pikemen with their deadly sarissas, I doubt he would have been defeated, especially by a kingdom already in serious military decline.

    Believe me, there was a reason Alexander’s army was undeafeated. That part of his history is most certainly not legend: it is fact. This is a man who brought down the island city of Tyre and who defeated the war elepahnts of King Ossus of India, not to mention destroying the largest army on earth, the armies of the Persian king Darius. It would take whole books to explain his battle tactics and the war machines he used, but based upon everything I have read, I find the whole Meroe affair extremely doubtful.

    And wouldn’t it just be a wonderful stain on such a blemish-free record, to have lost in combat, and to a woman? Think about it. Think about where the real sexism lies, before believing everything you read at first glance.

    Alexander had strong feminist tendencies but it remains a hidden side of his character: everyone prefers to focus on his battles. A lot of his true character is delegated to the back pages, which is a real shame.

  86. Mary

    PS

    There is absolutely nothing wrong with monogamy. It is not a patriarchal lie. It is, like homosexuality, polygamy, and transgenderism, a natural occurence in the animal kingdom. Wolves, hawks, foxes, and hundred of other animals, once mated, mate for life. Male lions ‘marry’ to a group of females. Seahorses change their gender. Monogamy is just one of many naturally occuring circumstances. I cannot see how it could possibly be an imposed burden.

    I think what Twisty is getting at is that mating for life is a circumstance that has been corrupted by male dominance into an obligation. It’s not something we choose; the choice is forced on us. We probably have no real idea what it means to freely choose monogamy beause thousands of years of male dominance on every level of society has corrupted what may once have been a very normal impulse. Twisty is right to be suspicious.

    I have been in a monogamous relationship for 16 years and I have no intention of leaving my lover for the very simple reason that she is it for me, but my happily coupled state of being makes me more aware, not less, of how much marriage is forced on people and makes prisoners of both men and women. Removal of enforced monogamy would be the best thing for monogamy: it would allow momogamy to return to a more organic state of being based on personal choice and real desire, rather than a sense of societal obligation.

    In short, I want the state to stay the hell out of my monogamous relationship. Enforced monogamy is a denial of individuality. There is no uniform standard for couplehood and we should all have the freedom to pursue what we wish to pursure in a relationship.

  87. piny

    >>Seahorses change their gender.>>

    I’m not sure spontaneous sex changes are the same as needing to transition or being transsexual in the human sense of the word.

    I really like seahorses, though.

  88. ursa

    Alexander the Great was a talented thug who caused untold misery to thousands. I see it as no disgrace for him to retreat from a stand off with an Ethiopian Queen.

  89. Linnaeus

    I’m late to the party, but here’s a lie for you:

    Capitalism is a natural law.

    Size doesn’t matter (from Madwoman In The Attic).

    Oh, dear. Guess I’ll have to pay more attention to those penis enlargement spam ads in my e-mail inbox. ;)

  90. jami

    i’m with you on marriage. but i shall never be a “maiden” aunt. sex is patriarchical or whatever, but unlike marriage, it’s worth the occasional compromise of egalitarianal ideals.

  91. Daniel

    The one think i don’t get is about the edible peach. There are such things as edible peaches, aren’t there? Or does it mean something else?
    Please advise
    -d

  92. Sadie Baker

    You probably weren’t interested in getting into all this, Virago, but I have to put a word in for Paul.

    He practiced affirmative action, he had women priests in his church (Priscilla, and I forget the other one now), and some of the things he had to say were quite provocative, like “in Christ there is no male or female.”

    Some people claim he went on a writing spree about 300 years after his death, which would account for the schizoid nature of his writings.

  1. DemiOrator

    Wit & Wisdom of the Maiden Aunt

    Like many others, I swoon when Twisty Faster speaks critically about the patriarchy. Her recent rumination on marriage and patriarchy is pithy and sweet. It has a subtle Twain-ish dark humor pervading it. Well, if Mark Twain wrote about blaming the p…

  2. Dru Blood - I believe in the inherent goodness of all beings

    I Blame the Patriarchy

    I’m not sure how I missed The Maiden Aunt Explains Patriarchy, because I’ve been reading twisty every day. You should read it. Because I said so. And the rich white guy outranks everybody….

  3. Sour Duck

    The Carnival of Feminists, Issue 3

    Along similar lines but in a lighter vein, I Blame the Patriarchy’s scathing “The Maiden Aunt Explains Patriarchy” does just what the title promises, with the added bonus of a whole lotta cussin’!

  4. Pandagon

    Put down the tiny handbag and walk slowly towards the feminists

    When I met Twisty from I Blame the Patriarchy in person, I had just recently read her hilarious post on how teeny handbags are tools of the patriarchy. When I met her, I was carrying my teeny, awkward handbag and…

  5. Pandagon

    Put down the tiny handbag and walk slowly towards the feminists

    When I met Twisty from I Blame the Patriarchy in person, I had just recently read her hilarious post on how teeny handbags are tools of the patriarchy. When I met her, I was carrying my teeny, awkward handbag and…

  6. Property of a Lady » Feminist Men and the Patriarchy

    [...] Well, Shades of Grey found the perfect Twisty quote to explain the distinction between wonderful men like my son and (I have no doubt) Ben, and the patriarchy. See here. The patriarchy I blame isn’t people, it’s a system. It is a hierarchical system of dominance at the gilded pinnacle of which pink-faced male captains of industry luxuriate, and at the rat-infested bottom of which poor brown women die screaming in filth and penury. In between are sub-hierarchies, but one constant obtains across all class, cultural and geographical lines: within any given hierarchy, women are consistently relegated to the lowest possible status. [...]

  7. Let Them Take Bubble Baths at Faux Real Tho!

    [...] Let’s not look a gift horse in the mouth — this is our alliance, uneasy at times, but an alliance nonetheless. Be critical, please; even the unfunnest of blogular feminists carries a tiny handbag as she excoriates them on her blog. The truth is, everybody, even those of us whose hobby it is to lounge around all day questioning the patriarchal origins of human behavior, contributes on some level to the sustenance of patriarchy. I, for instance, am at this very moment listening to Digital Underground’s “Packet Man”–damn those catchy sexist orgy-centric beats!– while wearing sweatpants that were made by Chinese slave labor in the Northern Mariana Islands. Earlier today I mocked people–I mean, what choice did I have?– who use the word “womyn.” Later today I will catapult the lithe Twisty bod into the penismobile that gets about 4 miles a gallon (that I bought instead of the more pious Priapus) and tool at breakneck speed, while flipping off as many moron drivers as possible, to my most recent niece’s christening, which will transpire in a fucking church–a fucking Catholic church–where the officiant is an octogenarian priest/family friend fond of alluding to me, to everyone’s unbridled amusement, as “the maiden aunt.” [...]

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