Jan 02 2006

On Naturality

My young onions: distasteful though it is, today I begin a new and different species of chemo. The extent to which the violent new toxins will interfere with my ability to discharge my spinster-auntly duties remains to be seen, but the likelihood is that they won’t exactly leave me feeling dewy-fresh. The next day or two will undoubtedly crepusculate gloomily in the absence of my usual sparkling twisticular blogulation, but I trust you will muddle through somehow.

Meanwhile, can I just say that you people who know me, or knew me, in real life, and who are lurking on the blog without saying hi, well, I can’t articulate why, exactly, but it’s kind of creepy, like you’re spying on me. Show yourselves, already. Particularly if we’re sworn enemies, so I can kick your ass.

Meanwhile, because there’s a new “gay movie” out, here’s an article that seems to be saying “gay humans are ‘natural’ because sometimes male sheep fuck each other.”

How about this: everything everywhere is “natural.” Plastic is natural. Murder is natural. Cars are natural. Monsanto is natural. When cockroaches inherit the earth it will be natural. It’s even natural for imbeciles to claim that homosexuality isn’t natural. It can’t be otherwise. That humans have contrived any thought or object or behavior that is not inherent in the very constitution of the earth is impossible. Everything here, as far as the eye can see, was puked out of the guts of the same star. Events–geological, metaphysical, chemical, comical–have proceeded accordingly.

This applies even if it turns out that aliens beamed brainiac messages into the previously empty minds of australopithecenes, causing them to hurl antelope femurs into the air and ultimately resulting in the invention of science fiction. Aliens are natural, too.

When people flit around town opining that homosexuality isn’t natural, what they are really saying is “My primitive intellect is the natural and vulgar consequence of patriarchy.”


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  1. kcb

    Thank you for blowing my mind this morning! Best of luck with the new chemo.

  2. QRaccoon

    I just started reading your blog about a few days ago. One of my friends linked to it and I’ve been hooked ever since.

    I hope you feel better soon Twisty. The world needs more of your Patriarcy-blaming attitude!

  3. Ebeth

    I love your blog, Twisty.

    You might be interested in a book that came out about 5 years ago, _Biological Exuberance_. 1000+ pages on homosexuality in the animal kingdom. A dense but fascinating read.

    Best of luck with round two.


  4. virgotex

    Neither friend or enemy, just a long time lurker, finally piping up in the new year to post and say thanks and happy new year and good luck. About this time last year my partner was finishing up chemo and preparing for “Yay!” — radiation!! Cancer’s rich and surreal pageant is a motherfucker, is it not?

    btw, her highly aggressive treatment (for endometrial cancer) was successful, but life was hell for a year and a half.

  5. Carol

    Geez, for a minute I thought you were talking about Scientology there….

  6. Tuomas

    How about this: everything everywhere is “natural.”

    Very true but rarely acknowledged. Good luck with the chemo.

  7. Becker

    Great post, Mz T. Unfortunately it takes the piss out of my argument that abstinence is unnatural and therefore a perversion we should not be teaching to teenagers, but I’ll get around it.

    But yes, we will muddle. Get as comfortable as you can, and welcome back when you’re up to it.

  8. Katie

    Hi Twisty,
    Although I do not know you in real life, I agree that it’s creepy of me to read your blog and not introduce myself…so I’m commenting. I found you from BitchPhD’s blog. Your clever illustrations, witty musings, and of course the tacos, drew me in. After I found myself learning something, I added you to my bookmarks under “good blogs”.

    While I don’t consider myself a novice patriarchy-blamer, I’m nowhere near your royal highnesses rad status. I hope some of your greatness will rub off.

    Please kick cancer’s ass soon so I can enjoy your posts with regular frequency.

  9. Joolya

    Twisty, I am continuously amused and enlightened by your blog. Best of luck with the new round of chemo. You’ve got a lot of people pulling for you. Take care and come back to the ‘sphere soon!

  10. Christopher

    Twisty, have I ever told you that I love you?

    One of my current pet peeves is the philosophically untenble distinction between the natural, supernatural, and man-made. I mean, it’s not clear how exactly my house differs from a termite mound. Other animals besides us do build things.

    To be fair, though, the article was probably a rebuttle to the various dimwits who claim that homosexuality is a human is not found in pure nature. People use that claim as a justification of their bigotry, and since it’s demonstrably false, it should be rebutted, even if, when you think about it, it doesn’t fucking matter whether other animals are homosexual.

  11. wordgirl

    What can I say that hasn’t already been said here a hundred times already? Patriarchal rules ask…nay…DEMAND that a false reality be created so that wealthy,white men can feel better than everyone else. Smarter. More creative. Closer to God. More analytical. Ad nauseum. They get to be normal. Everyone else? Not so much. When the cracks in the patriarchy’s world begin to hint that other folk might deserve to share in the spoils of unlimited freedom and pursuit of happiness, it becomes necessary to pile that shit higher and deeper. Keep talking about how you know better and no one else does. How women find greater fulfillment in cleaning a toilet than men do. How gay marriage will somehow infect the pristine state of hetero couplings. How your kids’ next science test will now have to include questions about which day of the week God created dirt. How God wants a dyslexic ex-cokehead/untreated alcoholic to be in charge of the Free World. Before you know it, you’ve incriminated everyone who disagrees with you, branded them as America-haters, changed the name of a perfectly good fried potato out of sheer paranoia and then start wiretapping every phone in the Quaker community…just because you can. …………uh……is it clear of whom I speak? Good. Thanks for buidling a place where we can convene, Twisty. The world sorely needs it, but the Lone Star State is starving for some taco-flavored common sense.

  12. k

    What!?! I’m here, you’re here, everything is the way it has to be. Except what isn’t the way it should be. Are you in a zen state of acceptance? I have to take a break to beat my head against a wall, and then I’ll join you.

  13. drublood

    Damnit, I love you miz twisty.

  14. sabele26

    Sorry Twisty – didn’t mean to spook you – just didn’t know what to say. Anyway… hi, hope chemo round 2 doesn’t keep you from the patriarchy blaming (or the tacos!) for too long. Keep up the good work

  15. RCinProv


    Someone with your awesome power of wit might find it hard to imagine, but some of us might be lurkers because we’re not necessarily up to the high-level of banter that we love to read here. Weak, I know, but plausible.

    Anyway I love your blog. I still don’t understand the Texas part. But being a California boy at heart, I get the most important thing of all: Mexican food.

    Best wishes, dear Twisty.

  16. Hattie

    My lovable sexist cousin and twit of a cancer survivor says “hi.” This week has been a severe education for himat my hands in the error of his ways. Still, he will never get over the idea that women were put on this earth to serve and amuse him.

  17. MzNicky

    Chemo: My stomach still lurches just at the very word.

    Fucking chemo. I hate fucking chemo. Chemo fucking sucks. Except for that thing about how well it kicks cancer’s ass.

    Love you Twisty. It does end.

  18. Ron Sullivan

    Wheeee, that was fun. (I mean, except for the anticipated puking part. That’s not fun.) From the third graf on, though — that’s the kind of stuff some smart ancestors invented language for. Naturally.

  19. Dharma

    Hey there Twisty. I have been reading you blog for maybe two months? I have been blown away by the fact that I read you before I realized you had breast cancer, which I realized after my mother was diagnosed. So I tracked back and skimmed particularly for those antries while being diverted madly by the other posts that were my original reason for reading you. Sunny, my mother, will have her second dose of chem this Wednesday, she is starting with AC – 4 sessions, then probably some number of session of taxol. It appears that she is a few weeks behind you with all of this. Mostly I read for your interesting bits of information and links to outrageous articles, both of which I forward on to receptive audiences.

  20. Twisty

    Everything is natural, yes. Good (as in “beneficial to humans”), not necessarily.

  21. Liz

    Oh feh, there is NOTHING natural about my ferocious foaming-at-the-mouth devotion to Twisty. Don’t you people try and tell me there is.

  22. Buffalo Gal

    I was going to say what RCinProv said. Sometimes I type a comment and decide it just isn’t Twisty-worthy, so it gets deleted rather than sent. I’m not so much peeking in your windows as I am sitting quietly on the couch, listening to my betters’ wisdom. (I do blame the patriarchy every chance I get.)

  23. Chris Clarke

    “Betters?” “Wisdom?” Clearly you’re not talking about Chris Clarke, who lets fly with every other inane pun that comes to mind and yet strangely has been neither tarred, feathered, nor runoft by our naked-pated host.

    I’ve set the commenting bar here awful low, Bison Woman. Shirley a formidable ungulate such as yourself can jump it with no trouble.

  24. Ascending

    I, too, am not a creepy stalker and do not know you, but I’ve been reading for a little while, mainly lurking so that I, too, can one day be an advanced patriarchy-blamer such as yourself. Take care of yourself.

  25. Jean Sirius

    coyote-guy sent me here a few months ago. i admit to flagrant theft of the twistythoughts, without leaving so much as a dime tip. since the extent of my response is mostly “right on, sistah,” i’ve been reluctant to waste the electrons/your time. i resolve to do better this year.

    rock on with your bad, and yet entirely natural, self.

  26. gacbos

    Twisty: I lurk no longer. Yes, folks, I “knew” (meaning: in the 70s! No eulogy, this, or for a fucking long time, I’m betting) the Twister “in real life” (meaning: before — gasp! — the Internet). I’ve not posted before, for reasons which are hard to articulate, too. I dunno. Maybe I’ve been afraid that I’d blurt out that Twisty once showed up dressed as a priest for a “Bible as Literature” class; or that I lost my virginity to her. (No, she was not dressed as a priest for that lesson.)


    Anyway, “hi,” and to reiterate the private email message: I love you still. May the chemo-violence be very selective, and easy on your abundance of good parts.

  27. ae

    aliens beamed brainiac messages into the previously empty minds of australopithecenes, causing them to hurl antelope femurs into the air and ultimately resulting in the invention of science fiction.

    Bwaaahahaahahahahah! Whoo. (Wiping tears from eyes.)

    Shy lurkers, the water’s fine, jump on in. And enemies? Show yourself, scoundrels, so we can disabuse you of whatever misapprehended notions sit like lumpy oatmeal in your heads.

    Twisty, good thoughts for you for Round 2. {{{{{ xoxo }}}}}

  28. belledame222

    Ebeth beat me to it–another vote for “Biological Exuberance.”

    and twisty, sorry you’re going through chemo hell. Here’s sending you strength to kick the cancer’s ass, along of course with the patriarchy.

  29. Pat Hartman

    As a writer I worship at your feet. You’re the greatest as a patriarchy-blamer, too.

  30. silverfish

    I blame the patriarchy too.

    From another new reader.

  31. zeitgeistmama

    so freakin’ true. de-lurking now that you’ve mentioned my favorite thought – the un-naturalness of the ‘it’s natural’ argument! Everything everywhere is natural! Nothing is not natural! this always particularly amuses me in the ‘natural flavors’ argument. if you read fast food nation you’ll get the goods on how all ‘flavors’ (natural and artifical) that lurk in our foods are really chemically created in vats in New Jersey. too dang funny.

  32. Miranda

    Twisy, you write so brilliantly there is little left for a neophyte patriarchy blamer such as myself to say besides RIGHT ON SISTER! You make me laugh and cry and, most of all, think every single day. I’m pulling for you in the hope that this round of chemo’s suckiness passes relatively quickly.

  33. Buffalo Gal

    Aw, Chris, you know I want you to have my babies. But please don’t call me Shirley.

  34. Monkeypants

    Delurking here. I’ve been reading I Blame the Patriarchy for about six months. Like others, I think you say it all, and say it better than I could.

    Wishing you a speedy recovery from this latest bout of hideousness, and hoping you’ll be about town enjoying tacos in good time.

  35. Mat

    Like many others, I don’t know you, and I haven’t commented yet because I don’t have anything of substance to add to your amazing posts and the ensuing conversations. I first got here through BitchPhd several months ago, and I kept coming back because you write deliciously, you open my eyes, and your pictures are great. Thank you so much, and I hope you get through these ordeals as quickly and painlessly as possible.

  36. Ms Kate

    Twisty, Chemo may knock you to yer knees, but we would all be honored to kiss your patriarchy blaming ass when it does!

  37. Matt25

    Although this is not my very first comment, I’m new here, too. I don’t know you in real life, or (as far as I know) any of the other commenters either. I can’t remember how I found your blog, but I added it to my RSS reader as soon as I read your first post, and have been coming by ever since.

    I had a conservative religious upbringing which didn’t work out too well, and I guess I’m still recovering from some aspects of it. I was a gay intellectual boy in a world built for straight “my primitive intellect is the natural and vulgar consequence of patriarchy” men–men whose virtue was attested to by, among other things, their grandfathers’ agricultural prowess. I’m sure they would tell us their sheep were 100% heterosexual.

    Good luck with the latest chemo. I look forward to further improving my underdeveloped patriarchy-blaming skills here once you’re back at it.

  38. Spike

    Hi Twisty,

    I just found your blog through the Science and Sarcasm blog and wanted to drop you a New Year’s comment to wish you all the best with your chemo.
    I finished up my chemo for OVCA in Nov 2004.
    It’s a wild ride, but I get the feeling you know that.

    Take good care and thank you for writing,

    proudly unnatural homosexual

  39. randy smith

    okay! i’m showing myself! another austinite, kinda…north btwn lamar/burnet. yours is a tremendous blog… hope your new chemo goes well with not too many adverse effects. also, you think maybe next year the austin bloggers could get together in the ‘first night austin’ parade? you could lead! costumes and tacos!

  40. Sharon

    A brief delurk to say ‘hey’.Never knew I was “blaming the patriarchy” allthese years! Thanks for your blog and hope you feel better soon.

  41. NancyMc

    Another classic Twisty commentary. I’d say this ranks up there, and is a kind of companion piece, to your immortal Fuck Culture.

    I was thinking the same things you said about Nature – but I didn’t say it first, and wouldn’t have said it as well anyway. Your rhetoric like your cuisine reigns supreme.

  42. Aldea

    de-lurked! I love your blog and wish you well..

  43. Iximche

    Another shy lurker, unable to say anything brilliant or thought provoking, but wanting to say thanks and please keep doing the amazing and wonderful things that you do.

  44. Mark Early

    Twisty, I hardly ever post because most of the time someone has already said what I would say but better. Usually you.

  45. Elizabeth

    Add another knitter to your list, Twisty! I’m one of your lurkers/fans. Take good care of yourself during this second go ’round – I wish you all the best.

  46. Mimi

    Dear Twisty, I’m wishing hard for you to have minimal sickiness and quick return to the taco-sphere. I lurk and learn every day. Maybe someday I’ll be clever enough to contribute.

  47. The Huntress

    I am showing myself. Well, in a manner of speaking. Along with many others, it would appear. Hi.

  48. sunny in texas

    this isn’t my first comment here. i found your blog via bitch phd i believe and have stuck around because you speak so much truth. i aim to become as fluently patriarchy blaming as yourself one day.
    kick cancer’s ass.

  49. Julian Elson

    Hi. I’m also a lurker type guy, though not much of a regular here.

    Anyway, I think that “natural” is used in two dichotomies: The “natural vs. artificial” dichotomy and the “natural vs. supernatural” dichotomy. Sometimes natural and artificial of the “natural vs. aritificial” dichotomy are folded into the “natural” of the “natural vs. supernatural” dichotomy. According to the natural vs. artificial dichotomy, then, sand is natural and plastic is artificial. According to the natural vs. supernatural dichotomy, sand and plastic are both natural, and demonic possession is supernatural.

  50. Christopher

    I know.

    The problem is that there’s no real coherent reason to consider demonic posession “supernatural” as opposed to “natural”.

    The natural/unnatural divide makes a bit more sense, as it is really the man-made/other-animal-made distinction. However it is often used as a moral divide, and the divide simply can’t be used that way.

  51. Julian Elson

    Personally, while I think both dichotomies have merit, I think that, if anything, the natural/supernatural one is more coherent than the natural/artificial distinction. I see no reason to cordon off humans from other animals. One might just as easily decide that the “weird, artificial” species is beavers, and say that everything from houses to plastics to trees to mountains are natural, and that the only unnatural things are beaver dams.

    Natural/Supernatural makes more sense to me. You can approach nuclear reactors and beaver dams and rivers — all natural things under this dichotomy — from a scientific, materialistic viewpoint. You can’t do that with, say, the afterlife, deities, or spiritual forces. These things just don’t make sense from a materialistic, scientific viewpoint..

  52. Twisty

    Some would say that they (afterlife, deities, etc) don’t make sense from any viewpoint, except possibly from that of the mythologist, who, one hopes, also views them as poeteical though primitive human efforts to come up with a sort of science that explains the physical world.

    I agree that the attempt to view humans as something other than animal makes no sense, either. Still, the effort to do so is as old as the hills and forms the DNA of patriarchy. That is, the belief is at the root of the model of dominance/submission that not only defines modern human heirarchies, but guarantees our destructive influence on all other living things.

  53. tigtog

    Blame Chris Clarke for me being here. Not that I comment that often, but your posts often lead to me writing something tangentially inspired by them days later. You rock, chemo sucks, damn well win.

  54. Famous Soviet Athlete

    I used to work in a bakery that had a huge sign that still haunts me. “We Use No Chemicals In Our Products! Only Natural Ingredients!”

    The exclamation points just add to the insult, don’t you think?

  55. Twisty

    Yes, I do.

  56. Christopher

    There’sa problem here, though; The scientific method applies to anything with observable traits; In fact, science could be said to be the process of determining which traits and object has.

    Now, in the same veign, a moments thought will tell us that there is no way to meaningfully talk about an object that has no observable traits.

    Thus, the term “Natural” encompasses everything that can be discussed, and “supernatural” encompasses everything incomprehensible.

    The thing is, most people don’t seem to see it this way. One of the things the Kansas school board did recently was to amend the definition of science so that it no longer sought “natural” explanations exclusively.

    Now, if you think it out, every explanation is by definition natural. If this was common knowledge, it never would have even occured to the Kansas board to remove the word natural from the definition of science (Except perhaps to remove redundancy).

    However, to most people, “Supernatural” seems to encompass all the hobgoblins of myth; magic, demons, gods, etc.

    Now, since these things (If they exist) all have observable traits, they should be open to scientific inquiry. The average person knows this, and so it seems like a bizarre and arbitrary blind spot when scientists insist that science only covers the “natural world”.

    Seriously, you hear ID types argue all the time that science should never be blind to the possibilities, but dumb old scientists willfully ignore evidence of the supernatural.

    So, beacuase these terms cause much confusion, and are useless for any purpose besides analyzing fiction, I say they should be abolished.

  57. Jenne

    Dang!! Now I’m a jealous lurker.

    I’ve commented once, and consider myself an intermediate blamer. I get my Twisty fix 1st thing every morning when I get to “work” and then check back numerous times throughout the day (because I’m addicted, you see). I came here from Sour Duck’s Carnival of Feminists a few months ago. You immediately became my numero uno feminist, Twisty. Thank you for being you! Let your friends/fans know if you need anything from us during this craptastic cancer-ridding process.

  1. Better living through chemistry at Pandagon

    […] The problem with the word “natural” is far beyond mere ambiguity, though–it’s an empty word. Twisty, as usual, explains it best. How about this: everything everywhere is “natural.” Plastic is natural. Murder is natural. Cars are natural. Monsanto is natural. When cockroaches inherit the earth it will be natural. It’s even natural for imbeciles to claim that homosexuality isn’t natural. It can’t be otherwise. That humans have contrived any thought or object or behavior that is not inherent in the very constitution of the earth is impossible. Everything here, as far as the eye can see, was puked out of the guts of the same star. Events–geological, metaphysical, chemical, comical–have proceeded accordingly. […]

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