I wish I had never heard of patriarchy.
Then I could take the path of least resistance, which, for the 21st century American woman (or any woman, anywhere, anytime), means feminine acquiescence to male authority. It is the job I was trained for from the cradle. If only I could embrace my cultural heritage instead of calling bullshit on it, I might, instead of being reviled as a shrill man-hating nutjob, just luxuriate in a comfortable stupor and let my social conditioning take over. It would be so pleasant to waddle through life imagining, as so many women apparently do, that it is right and natural and fulfilling to be a subhuman punching bag-cum-receptacle for male incontinence whose uterus is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the state. I could tip-tap around in exquisite Jimmy Choo shoes, and write articles for the New York Times about how tough it is to employ a nanny, and take pole-dancing lessons, and let men dominate conversations, and close my eyes and think of England. After I turned 40 and my husband dumped me for a 22-year-old with bigger tits, dieting and shopping and undermining other women would give my life meaning. And I could watch “I Love Lucy” without wanting to puke.
That’s right. One of the worst things about having chosen a career in patriarchy-blaming is that I can no longer stand “I Love Lucy.” Every so often I try, because it’s Lucille Ball for chrissake, the extent of whose awesome genius cannot, I don’t even need to tell you, be overstated. But it only takes about two minutes for me to start fantasizing about Lucy breaking Ricky Ricardo’s eye socket with a bat.
All Western art, both hi and lo–and particularly, it seems, expressions of pop culture–emanates from a rotten inner core of white male privilege, but Lucy’s entire premise pivots on such a flagrant and truly disturbing theme of misogyny that persons under 18 shouldn’t be allowed to watch it without adult patriarchy-blaming supervision. Last night I saw a few scenes from an episode where Ricky threatens Lucy with physical violence for having bought a new hat without his permission. “Take it back,” he yells, “that’s an order!”
Yipes! Come on, Lucy, tell him to shove it up his butt! He’s a menacing, domineering asshole! Dump his fucktarded ass and run off to L.A. with Ethel!
But she doesn’t, because it’s 1954 and she is an infantilized submissive with no personal sovereignty–essentially a paid whore–who cannot directly challenge her manly man. When Ethel warns Lucy that “Ricky’s gonna kill” her, you get the uneasy feeling that the motherfucker isn’t above bitch-slappin’ her when she gets too uppity. It’s just too painful to watch. Lucy and Ricky are the Itchy and Scratchy of their generation.
UPDATE: There’s a discussion at Pandagon about this, and whether it is possible to enjoy entertainment when it espouses politics you find personally revolting.