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Sep 02 2006

Cabalistic Girl-Hating Amish Tooth-Pullers (And Other Stories)

napoleon_eggplant.JPG
Despite my pitiable infirmity, I continue to bring you unadulterated JPEGs of my dinner (no Photoshop on this damned laptop): Eggplant Napoleon and carrots with pine nuts from the carryout counter at Whole Foods.

Patriarchy and my real life: 24 hours of blaming

Episode I

At physical therapy, whereunto I adjourn several times a week to practice lifting my heel off the floor (I recently underwent horrific surgery to repair an innocent young ankle), the conversation turns to Under The Banner of Heaven. I don’t know if you are familiar with this book; it’s the true crime story of a couple of Mormon godbag nutjobs who murder a woman and a baby because God told’em to.

Cherie (one of the therapists): That book made me so mad. Don’t read it at night! You’ll get no sleep. I just laid there going ‘grraahh!’

Nods of assent all around.

Lori (my therapist): I’m going to see a one-man show tonight at some East Austin theater. It’s a Mormon guy who fled the Mormons in apparent revulsion.

Bob (the young PT intern, emerging from a reverie): You know, the Amish have a thing like that.

Me: You mean God-sanctioned killing sprees?

Bob: They send the teenagers off to experience fun in the real world. They only come back if they want to.

Hmmms all around.

Bob (warming to his subject): Not all Amish are the same, though. There’s this one sect where they take the girls and pull all their teeth out—

Me: Pull their teeth out!

The patriarchy-sensing hairs between my shoulder blades begin to stir; I foresee that some blaming is nigh.

Bob:—and replace’em with wooden ones. They don’t believe in dentists.

I agree that a certain misty surreality surrounds the occult and obscure world of dentistry, but it had never occurred to me that there might exist crazed Amish cults who actually don’t believe in dentists.

Cherie (revealing herself as no dope when it comes to secret dude-ruled societies): They pull their teeth so they can’t fight back!

Episode II

While lying around with my foot up on 6 pillows (so it can be closer to God!) and my laptop burning a hole in my thighs, I click over to a story on Forbes.com about how women are 50 zillion times more likely than men to die of what is of course the only treatment for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. But before I can read it, a dude in a sidebar ad shouts at me (literally shouts; the ad has unbidden audio) “Nearly half of all guys experience ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION!”

Episode III

While absorbing the above-pictured TV dinner, I inadvertently get stuck on the E! channel, which is the name of the cable channel that runs nothing but celebrity infomercials. The (five-hour-long!) infomercial playing during my TV dinner is called “101 Guiltiest Guilty Pleasures!” It features obscure D-list Hollywood personalities offering glib extempore commentary as they count down a list of moron pop culture trends (such as the Paris Hilton sex tapes, or “Survivor,” or paying 5 bucks for a fat-free chai latte) over footage of celebrities engaging in the activities. Five strippers dressed in merry widows and calling themselves the Las Vegas Pussy Patrol (or something) introduce each segment by performing sexy little dance numbers and striking patriarchy-approved cheap tart poses.

Apparently Hollywood stars exist in their own continuum and can, without doing anything at all, constitute guilty pleasures in and of themselves. Keanu Reeves is #63 and Anna Nicole Smith is #67. “101 Guiltiest Guilty Pleasures” shows footage of Reeves looking blank and Smith saying “uh, I don’t know.”

Of course boobs, as wholly owned subsidiaries of the dominant culture, are also a guilty pleasure. There is a whole segment on female celebrity chests featuring a montage of mammoth spherical implants.

As Cintra Wilson points out in her hilarious book A Massive Swelling, real boobs are nowadays considered such a freak of nature that porn featuring unagumented specimens must, according to the unwritten code of the perv brotherhood, be segregated in the psycho-fetish section.

Episode IV

baby_body.JPG

As infantilized one-footed shut-ins often do, I eventually find myself thumbing through an issue of People magazine. Robin Williams in rehab! Goldie Hawn’s daughter breaking up with the stoner dude from the Black Crowes! And it’s Britney Spears’ turn to be the cover story again. She is pregnant and a brunette and ‘Ready For Baby No.2!’

Naturally there’s a sidebar, entitled ‘Her Baby Body,’ informing an anxious public that Spears gained ’50-60 lbs.’ with the first kid, but this time has kept it to a more seemly 40. How will she ‘get her body back’? She’ll “definitely … start working out in a huge way.”

Heaven forfend she should be brown-haired and fat. Even a mortal woman, once she has discharged her primary duty as incubator, is obliged to return to sexbot status immediately.

30 comments

  1. barlyru

    but it had never occurred to me that there might exist crazed Amish cults who actually don’t believe in dentists.

    I followed the link and read that poor girl’s gut-wrenching story. I’m glad she got out, but what about all the others who are too young to rescue themselves? I wonder how widespread this sort of abuse is in the greater Amish community? Does anyone out there know? And isn’t it heartwarming to see how a mother’s love for the fucking patriarchy can over-ride every other maternal impulse?

  2. thebewilderness

    Hooo wee doggie. I am speechless. Shrieking soon to follow.

  3. Mar Iguana

    Patriarchy goes over mother’s love one time, no remainder.

  4. liz

    This has nothing whatsoever to do with the Amish, but if your laptop is burning a hole in your legs the way mine was, I would highly recommend the laplander thingie from Levenger. No, I do not work for them. I just love the laplander; I am typing with my laptop on my laplander right now. To demonstrate that I do not work for Levenger, I offer this warning: do *not* mistake the lap *desk* for the laplander. The lap desk is too big, too thin, and completely useless for your laptop. I am not going to post their URL because the last time I included a URL I got sent to the junk pile. Anyway, if your loved ones are reading this, I recommend this fabulous gizmo as a gift for spinster aunts in bed.

  5. CafeSiren

    What is Eggplant Napoleon? Could I make it at home?

  6. beaner

    Is it a MacBook Pro that’s burning a hole in your thighs? My husband has one that reaches insane temperatures – like 110 degrees. Apple’s stopped calling them “laptops,” choosing instead the moniker “portable computer,” and in this way is avoiding responsibility for reparations. I like Apple’s products, generally, but damn, that’s pretty slimy.

  7. KTal

    To Beaner and anyone with loved ones, or themselves who owns an Apple laptop or a Dell laptop beware!

    Check out the manufacturer’s site for these laptops, apparently there has been a recall because indeed, they will not only burn a hole in your thigh, but the batterys of some models will heat up to the point of catching fire. According to a source I have who claims familiarity with computer issues, a child last christmas left one on under the christmas tree; hours later it became an inferno. I was told that some models of Dell laptops have had a similar proclivity to making fire.

    I have to admit I have a Dell and I still haven’t gone to the website to check it out. The battery in mine is completely devoid of any power at all, so I guess I’m immune.

  8. slade

    I will never look at the Amish the same. Now I just want to harass the boys with a camera and flash while screaming….’Treat your sisters with respect.’

    Twisty….was that eggplant thingie any good? It looks like one of those mushroomy growths that emanate from tree trunks with 2 giant mosquitos on it.

    But the carrots looked OK…but you didn’t get very many. And not many pine nuts either. I’ll blame the greedy corporate man who started Whole Foods.

  9. KTal

    As for the Amish, their treatment of women isn’t much different, only more organized. The mother I’m sure had weighed long ago that cooperation fit her survival more than leaving the group.

    As her daughter was an easy sacrifice, so too would be her. A woman who lives under such a great burden of oppression deserves no judgement here. Those of us who have more freedom to make positive choices to bend the patriarchy have far more power.

    Expecting those living under the weight of extreme and direct oppression, whether economic, sexual or whatever, for not taking up the fight and freeing themselves serves nothing but the status quo.

  10. Pinko Punko

    I was desperately hoping that pic was some sort of delectable tempura-d maki, perhaps unagi-esque, but the cooked carrots had me looking askance. Down with eggplant, and the rest of the cobaggery, natch.

  11. Ron Sullivan

    Comparing the news item to what that kid said to you lays out rather well how urban legends are born.

    I suspect that the Amish are merely no better than the average subculture/religion/small town when it comes to throwing the girlchildren off the troika. That is not — lest anyone jump to confusions — a sunny optimistic statement. Pulled teeth (NB the UL aspects of that generalization): boobjob for your Sweet Sixteen::burkha:bikini wax.

    Also: “Deep in Amish country” in Pennsylvania is not much like “deep in fundie-Mormon country” in way-far-away Utah or Wyoming or wherever. You can pretty much walk to the nearest non-Amish farm, house, town, or subdivision from any Amish farm in PA-Dutch country.

  12. Ron Sullivan

    Oh. The Amish do in fact have a custom of letting the older-teenage kids have a couple years’ fling before settling down and growing beards or having babies. It’s called “Rumspringa.”

  13. KMTBERRY

    That true story about PULLING OUT ALL OF A SIXTEEN YEAR OLD GIRL’S TEETH because she sought help for BEING CONTINUALLY RAPED by her BROTHERS was so horrifying that I will never recover.

    (Also: How could ANYONE be so cheap that they would pull out their children’s teeth and replace them with dentures to save on dentist bills? THat is so insane that it boggles the mind all on it’s own.)

    This is the kind of thing that causes me to think that 50% of males just plain need to be exterminated, which really isn’t a healthy way to think. The basis for their domination of females is physical strength, right? Perhaps we could cripple them? I dunno. This stuff makes me crazy.

  14. Urban

    I have read ‘Under the Banner of Heaven’. Actually, I would recommend it for its thought-provoking qualities, though no doubt it will make you furious.

    If you’re interested, you can read what I thought about it here:
    http://www.bookcrossing.com/journal/1657554
    (hope that doesn’t get spamulated).

    You’ll have to scroll down to my review (Entry No. 32 – I’m “Navig8r” on that site).

    I read in the press recently that Warren Jeffs (a major mormon leader of the most fundamentalist branch of mormonism mentioned several times in Under the Banner of Heaven) has been arrested. Hopefully the prosecution won’t shy away from the most serious of charges.

  15. Cass

    Incest and child abuse are said to be rife within an insular, highly patriarchal religious cult? Who woulda thunk it?!

  16. Cass

    This business with the Amish has been well known to some people within the Office of Children, Youth and Families in Pennsylvania for some time now. The authorities don’t take any action largely out of fear of jeopardizing the flow of tourist dollars.

  17. Twisty

    “The authorities don’t take any action largely out of fear of jeopardizing the flow of tourist dollars.”

    Because everyone knows the Amish are cute, harmless, agrarian peaceniks.

    The Amish, I admit, have not exactly loomed large in my lobes lo these many years, but if I had given it two seconds’ thought it might have dawned on me that they is just the sort of culture where abuse might thrive. Here in my own Texas Hill Country, just the other day, authorities busted a Russian Orthodox ‘monastery’ run by a real estate con-man-turned-monk for child sex abuse.

    Not surprisingly, the monastery was full of dudes. It was also famous for its ‘Weeping Virgin’, a painting that supposedly cried actual tears of myrrh (sp?), which, guess what, eventually turned out to be a fraud. And you know, I hate to be looksist, but the ‘monks’ they showed on the local news doing their perp walks were big old ugly scraggle-beard psycho-lookin freaks.

    I digress, of course, but my point is that Cass’s observation about insular patriarchal cults is spot-on. They’re just examples of patriarchy taken to its logical end.

  18. Ann Bartow

    And of course at the other end of the Great Wall of Patriarchy we have crap like this: http://feministlawprofs.law.sc.edu/?p=940

  19. j

    Apple is recalling certain laptop batteries because of overheating. Maybe that applies to your computer?

    I, of course, would also like to mention the inenarrable horror I experienced upon reading the story about the Amish teeth-pullers.

  20. Jezebella

    Bog, I SAW that Dateline and have been haunted by it ever since. That sweet girl who thinks she is going straight to hell, toothless and all…. I hope she’s getting a lot of help recovering from the nightmare she was born into. Your young Intern Bob probably has yet to be able to wrap his mind around such horrendous behavior, and so re-attributed the teeth pulling to what he felt were good intentions, or at least intentions based in good, religious ideas (“They don’t believe in dentists” is far less horrifying than “They punish rape & incest victims by pulling all of their teeth”)

    The US Army, by the way, is fond of pulling all teeth and replacing with dentures if an enlisted man has teeth troubles. Enlisted boys coming from the working & poor classes, they often come into the Army with bad teeth. Pulling them saves money & time & keeps those boys out there grunting full time. I suspect this never happens to officers.

    I also met an Alutiiq (Alaskan native) whose mother was convinced by government medicos that she’d be better off with dentures instead of bothering with teeth troubles. So they pulled all her perfectly healthy teeth, gave her dentures, and used her Injun Teeth for Scientific Research. This was in the 1960s, not that long ago.

    Literal toothlessness really does often follow from being powerless, and it sickens me to think of it.

  21. Twisty

    Since (one or two of) you asked:

    1. An eggplant Napoleon is a vegetarian dish comprised of assorted satueed flora sandwiched between 3 or more layers of sliced eggplant. My favorite version uses breaded and fried eggplant, mozzarella, and marinara sauce, but of course that’s not so good for what ails ya. The Whole Foods version uses a lighter grilled eggplant and, despite the grim photo, is pretty good for supermarket take-out. Layers of spinach and mushroom, topped with a small glob of mozzarella and a heapin’ helpin’ of minced garlic.

    2. My laptop battery is not among those being recalled, so you may all rest easy that I will not spontaneously combust.

  22. Jezebella

    Eggplant Napoleon at the Napoleon House in New Orleans is also a lovely variant. It involves layers of grilled eggplant, roasted red peppers, basil, fresh mozzarella, and copious amounts of olive oil.

    Now, of course, I’m suddenly wondering if Napoleon House has reopened. Crap. I hate it when this happens. All of my assumptions about what I can find & eat back home must now be questioned, which I keep trying to forget.

  23. Sara

    “I will never look at the Amish the same.”

    Yeah, me either. I really did think they were harmless and even kind of progressive to a certain extent (witness Rumspringa).

    It is a damn good thing you posted a picture of such a tasty looking dinner, or I might be stroking out right now. Thank you for this mercy.

  24. Branjor

    The Amish are scum. I have known for quite some time now that they also run horrendous puppy mills which put Pennsylvania right up there with Missouri as a puppy mill state.

  25. ophite

    Downside of Mormonism: Bizarre quasi-Christian sect that believes that extraterrestrial God dictated baby-having, housework, floral-print dresses. Bonus: Ascended Masters dressed as pilgrims live on sun, wear golden hats; therefore, sun is yellow.

    Upside of Mormonism: Believe in goddess, education for women, internal social service system that makes welfare look like lottery in terms of benefit offered.

    – ACS

  26. grrr kitty

    Religious extremes of any stripe sicken and anger me. The flavor doesn’t really matter; it all eventually comes down to the same willful ignorance, abuse and oppression. And they all sing one version or another of Kill the Infidels.

    On a happier note, it is the season of sweet, sweet bell peppers and vine-ripened tomatoes here in Ohio. If there’s anything better, God kept it for Him/Herself.

  27. badgerbag

    The tooth story is so terrible. I fucking hope those people go to jail… including the dentist. And including the CPS people and the sheriff’s office who failed to protect her when she asked for help.

  28. marsha

    Transfer Activation

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    If you do not transfer the activation and then try to activate the Adobe application on multiple computers concurrently, you will see the following alert:

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  29. marsha

    Being ex-mormon and mac tech I feel overly qualified for these comments! The battery recall is for a Sony Produced battery they have sold to dell and apple. It covers ibooks and powerbooks – g4 variety and a few g3 replacement batteries. None of the new macbooks are affected. Details are on Apple’s website and it’s not like everyone’s battery is going up in flames. A couple have failed and overheated, warping the computer case. I haven’t heard anything about a christmas tree inferno but I may have just missed that. IT’S NOT EVERY BATTERY!

    And the laptop’s are hot because that is how physics work. Eletricity moving very fast through a processor puts out heat and if you want all that speed in a portable computer it’s gonna burn, until they get microcooling systems invented. So next time you hate the fact there’s another computer out every 6months, remember, this is why, to fix what wasn’t invented for the last model.

    As for mormons, Um, that sun stuff isn’t right. Once Joseph Smith said there were quaker like people on the moon. But it wasn’t pulled forward as church doctrine. We do (if a good mormon with all the patriarichal hoops jumped through, like temple reccommends and married forever to the same guy) get to become gods of our own planets after judgement day.

    Little nutty but hell and heaven aren’t?

    Well, that’s enough outta me for a day.

  30. Pony

    Marsha don’t be a stranger.

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