Feb 27 2007

Mission statement revitalization programme, part one

[image ©1984 Universal Studios]

The mists of time part to reveal the origins of The Blame

With the damp, colorless fog that awakened the denizens of the Twisty Bungalow this morning (instead of the expected diamantiferous fanfare of taco-eating cherubim upon which my obstreperal lobe depends for its award-nominated vim and vigor) has also dawned the realization that the FAQ is somewhat out of date. It is time once again to revise the I Blame the Patriarchy mission statement.

But before I do that, I will offer the current working definition of patriarchy as it is blamed in this oeuvre.

But before I do that, as part of my continuing program to bollix stuff up, I will dust off a wrinkly old explicative device and describe what patriarchy is not.

But even before I do that, I gotta get one other thing off my chest.

The Blames Begin

It grieves me to confess it, but I am no shining beacon of accuracy when I say that I blame the patriarchy. Nothing against blaming; recrimination, self-pity, and vengeance definitely have their place in the spinster auntly ethos. But where the blog is concerned, my high moral purpose is not so much to blame, as it is more or less to put the finger on patriarchy. Or, to borrow a quaint phrase from the golden days of yore when feminism was an actual movement, I attempt to raise consciousness by shining the Flying Flashlight of Obstreperosity on those often invisible constructs of culture, education, politics, religion, sex, and behavior that reinforce a global paradigm of dominance and submission, which global paradigm ultimately benefits like 4 guys, and which paticularly fucks over several of the classes into which I personally have been shoved against my will.

Readers new to the blog are liable to misinterpret the blaming trope as some species of whiny, responsibility-shirking self-victimization. Not so! Whereas it true that the word “blame” appears in the title, it would be more accurate to say — and it therefore should be understood within the patriarchy-blaming argot to mean — “espy, descry, and condemn.”

Normally I don’t go in for this sort of obfuscatory, misleading lingo, and in fact I rarely use the word “blame” in the essays themselves. Which makes the title somewhat unfortunate. But “I Blame the Patriarchy” became the name of the blog when it existed only as an outcast vessel, uncherished by any audience whatsoever, into which I was wont to decant my anguished soul. The entitulation occurred long before the site began to acquire readers who don’t know me from adam, and who therefore might not realize that “I blame the patriarchy” is just a puerile and not altogether apt allusion to an early 80s cult film. Of course it’s too late to change it now.

Naturally, the modern blamer will have grasped il y a longtemps that I copped the title from a scene in “Repo Man”. That scene is this: in the bloody aftermath of a comical convenience-store robbery, stick-up punk Dick Rude lies dying of a gunshot wound, whereupon he has the following conversation with his former best friend, anti-hero Emilio Estevez. [I would put this seminal video clip up on YouTube, but it is very inconveniently copyrighted material].

Dick Rude: Lights are growin’ dim … I know a life of crime led me to this sorry fate, and yet … I blame society. Society made me what I am.

Emilio Estevez: That’s bullshit. You’re a white suburban punk just like me.

Dick Rude: But it still hurts.

[repellent dying gurgle noises ensue]

Emilio Estevez: You’re gonna be all right.

Next: Mission Statement Part II: What Patriarchy Ain’t
And after that: Mission Statement Part III: What Patriarchy Means To Me


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  1. norbizness

    Does this mean that we’re all going to eat sushi and then commit some crimes?

    Alternate title: “I Don’t Want No MRAs In My Car! No Nice Guys Either!”

  2. Twisty

    Actually, Norbiz, if you don’t mind my paying homage to your genius by way of outright intellectual theft, I might do just that: go eat sushi and rip off your alternate title idea.

  3. Medbh

    Oh, my, Twisty this was a big “Plate ‘O Shrimp” moment for me today.

    Classic film. I was thinking about this scene while reading a bullshit argument about the source of men’s violence by Neil Boyd titled “The Beast Within: Why Men are Violent.”

    Long time lurker, first time commenting.

  4. norbizness

    It’s not theft if you pay me its actual worth: 1/20th of a cent, like the cash value of an expired cat food coupon.

    Make sure you put up a big phat close-up of Harry Dean Stanton for the pic.

  5. S.C.U.M.

    Thank you Twisty for that charming picture of the notorious Dick Rude. I remember seeing Repo Man in a movie theater in San Francisco during my punk rock years, and deciding at that moment to go to film school. I have since been struggling for the last ten years to get female syntric work into the world of male driven no thought dude culture and will continue to do so. I for instance have had two comedy pilots dropped in the last five years. One was in development with Comedy Central and new frat boy looking executive came in and said they “he” didn’t want any more female comics ont he air. Subsequently my show was dropped, Strangers With Candy was cancelled as well as AbFab. The ONLY thing that got Ab Fab back on the air was a letter writing campaign. Management told my agent they wanted to do another “Man Show” couldn’t have named it more apt. Four months ago I was brought in to develop a show for IFC by my fabu gay executive friend. I sat with him and two other women executives, one white, one black, who told me my protagonist had to be male. The African American woman looked a me (she’s was from fucking Yale too) and told me my female characters couldn’t dominate the action. Holy shit. I was then told that the only people who watch their netwrok and hence the only people that matter were 18 – 29 year old white men. And this is fucking am “independent” satillite network. Holy shit. Never the less I worte a male protagonist (very flawed one at that) with the hope that I could somehow subvert the paradigm. Guess what my show was develped for six months and then dropped at the last minute for a cute white dude who walked in the room and pitched them something in fifteen minutes. i know because this guy (thank you evil universe) showed up at my birthday party and told me so.

    In August, I’m going to England and try my luck outside this festering empire of stupidity. Horrible stories, all true.

  6. Victoria Marinelli

    I appreciate your adding diamantiferous and cherubim to my vocabulary today, as I have noted elsewhere (at this entry for the former term on Wordie).

  7. Twisty

    I meant “diamantiferous” in the sense of “diamond-producing”; the word is usually used to denote a diamond mine, but there’s nothing in the OED that says it can’t apply to a situation in which cherubs fart diamonds in the early morning light.

  8. edith

    Sorry, for some reason I can’t help but think that this blog should be like, “I Spy the Patriarchy,” like the Where’s Waldo rip-off books. You know, where you have to find the marble in the beach scene or whatever. Except that since the patriarchy is all around, it’s really more like this: http://www.smalltime.com/findthespam.html

  9. Victoria Marinelli

    “Cherubs fart diamonds…”

    Now there’s a phrase I never expected to encounter in this life :)

    Oh, and also, thanks for your use of ‘trope,’ as it led me into a midday reminiscence on Adrienne Rich, whose Poetry I was my first source for this word, self-consciously encountered while in an actual library.

    Now I’ll refrain from any thematic segues between your diamantiferous musings and the same author’s poem, The Diamond Cutters (and her own retroactive criticism of same, as it appeared in The Fact of a Doorframe).

    This blog really ought not to be my first stop after having met my daily quota of caffeine.

  10. vera

    I anxiously await Part II. I’ve been ruminating lately on just that subject, and coming to some discouraging conclusions.

  11. jenevieve

    Thanks for the mission statement update; I have only been reading for a few months now, but I have thoroughly enjoyed your “shining the Flying Flashlight of Obstreperosity on those often invisible constructs of culture, education, politics, religion, sex, and behavior that reinforce a global paradigm of dominance and submission”. You have begun to educate this naive young student, and I can only look forward to more where that came from. I look forward to the next segments!

  12. JimmyDean'sFuckedUpCousinClyde

    Simplify, Twisty. Simplify.

    What’s wrong with “!*%#)%*#%&#(%#*%*!(#!&#ing Patriarchy!!!!!”…?

    It ponderingly allows the reader some subjective analysis. . .yes?

    No need to expound further. They’ll either get it or they won’t. And they won’t get it anyway if they suffer from Male Privilege Syndrome.

  13. jezebella

    I am such a geek that I immediately, I mean, without looking twice, recognized that one film still as Dick Rude dying in Repo Man. “Aw, it’s little Dick Rude!” thought I.

    And now I feel nostalgic for the days when Emilio Estevez wasn’t a tool.

  14. Orange

    It’s a little unwieldy, but how about isprinkleadorablevocabularylikefairydustwhileobstreperouslylayingbarethepatriarchy.com?

  15. kiki

    Twisty’s always intense.

    One day my mind was ready to burst,
    the next day, nothing!

    Swept away.

    But I showed them.
    I had a lobotomy in the end.

  16. Erin

    I’m on Day 9 of my new, improved, tobacco-free life, and in the market for things to make life interesting again (I kid! I feel pure, and refreshed, and not at all like wringing the necks of those who oppose me). The Mission Statements seem like they’ll fit the bill just fine. Thanks.

  17. Nora

    I am a first time blamer/pointer-outer and feel compelled to relate a conversation I had this evening with two very respectable men. The subject was porn as indicative of the exploitation of women. Imagine my complete befuddlement when, in high dudgeon, both of these respectable men compared the physical exploitation of women in porn to the physical exploitation of soldiers by governments. They couldn’t understand why I didn’t see a comparison.

    When I said that one chooses to be a soldier but doesn’t choose to be a woman, they brought up conscription. And couldn’t understand why I didn’t see a comparison. Is this wilful blindness on the part of men? Dunno.

    Great site, Twisty!

  18. kcb

    I’ll settle in with a BEER and await the next installment.

  19. Victoria Marinelli

    Awesome, Orange.

  20. FemiMom

    Erin: good luck with your abstinence from tobacco. I am happy that you will smell good & be able to smell good food.
    All the better to enjoy Twisty’s recipes.
    All the stronger to Blaim!

  21. Katelyn Sack

    Instead of ditching the accessible, catchy name one bazillion Blamers have come to know and love, you could update with a new subtitle weekly like McSweeney’s Internet Tendency does (and like I do). Week 1, I Blame The Patriarchy: Espy, Decry, and Condemn. Week 2, IBTP: @#! It. Week 3, IBTP: Now With Twice the Mayonnaise. Etc.

    If you mirror-reverse your blog title image background (the tasty morsel up top), then you can drape subtitle text around the sour cream or whatever that tantalizing, lipid-rich substance is.

  22. Bonnie

    How ’bout “brusselssproutsarefoodofthegoddesses.com”?

  23. Pinko Punko

    How about “I Accuse the Patriarchy”? Since we are considering the day of the revolution, this blog perhaps can symbolize certain delightfully knit sweaters and mittens with a sinister almost molluscoidian . Also I never know where to put quotes and punctuation so I realize this comment might end up in the trasho.


    Might get posted 10 hours after I wrote it due to several donuts and an internet outage! Curses! I accuse!

  24. justtesting

    Well, The Twisty Weltanschauung, as currently set out in the FAQs seems just fine to me.

    You also mentioned children in a recent post, but their place in the hierachy is just the same as the equivalent adult, though being smaller and particularly vunerable they are even easier to mistreat.

    Example: the worth of the female child is so low in places like India and China that many of them are dealt with by being killed as close to birth as is possible.

    I blame the patriarchy.

  25. Sylvanite

    If the title is changed to “I Accuse the Patriarchy,” then a movie still from “I Accuse My Parents” could be used!

    Actually, I really like the name “I Blame the Patriarchy.” It seems much angrier, which is appropriate, I think. But, it’s your place, so I’m sure you’ll do as you see fit! I know it won’t keep me from coming around.

  26. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    Well, I’m no OED, but to me blaming means pointing the finger (or the beam of the Flying Flashlight) at the party who’s responsible. So, although my blaming skills are not as finely honed as they oughtta be, I think the name is perfectly well-suited and appropriate. Plus you get extra points for the Repo Man reference.

  27. virgotex

    I like watching/reading others do this kind of housekeeping=it’s inspiring to see you keepin’ it fresh.

    Somewhere out there in the bloggish regions where I’ve recently tromped, someone described you/IBTP as “polemicist,” and it rankled me, though obviously not enough to remember 1)who is was and 2)where they said it. What pissed me off was not simply describing you/IBTB that way, because in some contexts, I think that could be accurate, if limited.

    But what pissed me off is that 1)they used “polemicist” to dismiss you/IBTP and 2)inaccurately equated “polemic” and you/IBTP with “bummer”, ie, “whiny, responsibility-shirking self-victimization.” Basically, meaning that you harshed his mellow and therefore, weren’t worth reading. Aside from being unfair and sloppy, it was aggravating because it was so anti-obstreperal, and therefore inaccurate.

    My point, if indeed I still have one, is, in the spiriti of revitalization, 1)whoever that guy I can’t remember is,fuck people like that and 2) Yay, Twisty!

    Keep on espying,descrying and condemning.

  28. Twisty

    The blog title will remain unchanged. It seemed, however, that a small elucidation on that one point was in order; it’s always kind of bothered me.

    One interesting thing I failed to mention in the post is that, among the commentariat, the word “blame” appears to have taken on the “espy, descry, and condemn” meaning without any active intervention from me.

    You know what this means, don’t you? That there is an I Blame the Patriarchy culture. I’m not sure whether to laugh or cry.

  29. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    Both. With a liberal dose of alcohol.

  30. vera

    You don’t laugh or cry until you’ve copyrighted. You want the income from the tee shirts, right?

  31. generation next

    Yes, vocabulary lovers and wordies unite! I also went to look up diamantiferous.

  32. Bitey

    Tee shirts! I don’t wear clothes with writing on them (I consider them impertinent), but I would wear Twisty-tees. You could use the money for any number of good causes. Send it to Planned Parenthood, take a trip to D.C. to moon the White House, or keep yourself in tacos and margaritas.

    The reason I like “I Blame the Patriarchy” is that, once it permeates one’s consciousness, it keeps one’s focus square and true. It identifies specifically the source of our violent irritation–the Big P–and prevents one from being sucked into petty, surface-level squabbles. The motto naturally lends itself to nice rhetorical figures, like, “You’re an idiot, but I don’t blame you. I blame the patriarchy,” and “I don’t blame myself, I blame the patriarchy.” I believe it’s right and good to place blame where it belongs, and further, unlike blaming society or one’s parents, there seems to be little danger of descending into whining and self-pity. It’s too angry-making. I think it’s perfect.

  33. Lipstick-and-Birk-Wearing Momma

    I second the request for a t-shirt. You could sell t-shirts on Cafe Press and pocket the proceeds for queso. I would love a t-shirt. And we must keep Twisty well fed so that she can blame on.

    P.S. I favor “f*ck the patriarchy.” After getting slapped around by (in?) the patriarchy, hubby suggested that I take a “f*ck you” attitude. He was right! I feel much better now. F*CK YOU patriarchy!

  34. gayle

    I agree with Bitey. While “I Blame the Patriarchy” may not be as precise as you’d like, it takes the blame off the usual targets (women) and puts it squarely where it belongs.

    I’d buy a T-shirt, too! I’d buy two if the odd-looking woman is featured in the final design. Love her!

  35. Tam

    Though I appreciate the sentiment, I think “fuck the patriarchy” (or a variant thereof) is the completely wrong way to put it. The whole idea of hurting people by fucking them is, you know, patriarchal.

  36. skyscraper

    I would buy a t-shirt also. There is alot of room on there to explain what blame means in the Twisty way.

  37. Lipstick-and-Birk-Wearing Momma

    You may be right, Tam. Then again, you may be enforcing the “thou shalt not get angry lest you be called a hysterical female” rule.

    I’ve been getting contacted by potential employers who are no longer interested in me when they find out that I’m a woman. Yes, this really happens.

    In a very male-dominated field, it doesn’t even occur to people that a woman would have my credentials (4 degrees–2 post-doc). I’m extremely frustrated. I’d been blaming myself. My hubby said that I had to change my attitude, and he was right. I’m not going to leave quietly without trying again.

    Maybe this is a “reformation” versus “revolution” issue???

  38. Loosely Twisted

    I always thought it meant to point a finger at them.. Been reading here for nigh on 2 yrs now.. Even before you moved pads.. ooh yeah remember that confusion and dust up.

    I would definately buy a twisty T, but it’s gotta have you on it, point a finger toward the camera and sayin I blame You.

    Loosely Twisted

  39. Tam

    You may be right, Tam. Then again, you may be enforcing the “thou shalt not get angry lest you be called a hysterical female” rule.

    I don’t think so – it’s not the anger I object to, just the metaphor of violent sexual intercourse.

  40. teffie-phd

    Justing popping into the comments to say that I used your post-mastectomy photo in my media, consumerism and breast cancer lecture again to great effect. Hopefully some of my students will follow me here. Thanks.

    And I love the blaming name and all your fantastic writing, but I loathe your current banner photo–that “food” looks revolting.

  41. Twisty

    I am honored, dr teffie, to be Exhibit A in any lecture of yours.

    I regret that the banner photo fails to give satisfaction, but perhaps if you consider its deeper meaning (deep-fried patriarchy-on-a-plate) you could find it in your heart to despise it a little less.

  42. Spinning Liz

    What’s all this talk about IBTP t-shirts? Don’t y’all remember that majestic jacket that Stingray was once wearing in a photo of yore? Who wants another lousy t-shirt??? What I dream about every night is Stingray’s glorious IBTP jacket.

  43. S-kat

    I was just telling my friend the other day how I loved the title “I blame the patriarchy” because as a teenager I used to always say, “I blame society” knowing full well that it was practically meaningless to do so. (Wish I’d caught the Repo Man reference.) The great thing to me about blaming the patriarchy is that it pinpoints what it is about society that I hate and blame, and has allowed me to focus my ire.

    I read where I am not to consider this blog a primer in radical feminism or patriarchy blaming, but that is exactly how I have used it.

    Twisty, you entertainingly enlightening and so are your readers and their comments (even the trolls.)I thank you all for teaching me to properly blame the patriarchy.

  44. Lipstick-and-Birk-Wearing Momma

    Tam said: “…it’s not the anger I object to, just the metaphor of violent sexual intercourse.”

    Point well taken. I would call that “Rape the patriarchy.”

    Sometimes, I take things too literally, which causes incorrect interpretations. I’m an INTJ, and that’s my defect. I also rely heavily on tone, inflection, context etc. (none of which are available via internet).

    Any other INTJ females out there?

  45. Bitey

    I’m an INFJ–that’s pretty close.

  46. Buttercup

    I want a door-sized poster of the Flying Flashlight of Obstreperosity. Can we get those? Or, at least, wallpaper for my computer.

    Erin, GO YOU! Believe me when I tell you that the worst is over. I haven’t had a cigarette for 13 and a half months and I’m much better now. It did take a while but stick to it, it’s all worth it in the end.

    (One of the things that prompted me to quit was the increasing anger I felt at being manipulated by the patriarchy in the form of tobacco companies.)

  47. Lipstick-and-Birk-Wearing Momma

    Buttercup, there’s some corporate blaming going on in the “Sisterhood” thread.

    The evil tobacco companies now control industrial food so that they can slowly kill us with HFCS and hydrogenated oils instead of tobacco.

  48. acm

    call it whatever you want — you’re doing spectacular stuff here. shine on!

  49. edith

    Oh god, not Jung. Anything but that.

  50. yankee transplant

    I’m glad you’re not thinking of changing the blog name. It is part of the social fabric of my life, as well as the lives of many of my friends.

    Blame on, Twisty!

  51. Spit The Dummy

    Lipstick-and-Birk-Wearing Momma says:

    “Any other INTJ females out there?”

    I’m INTJ. I often have to have jokes explained to me because my mind sticks to the literal track too hard at times.

  52. S-kat

    I’m an INTJ too.
    I don’t seem to have that problem though.

  1. Mission statement revitalization programme, part two at I Blame The Patriarchy

    […] [Enjoy Part One: How the Blame Got Its Name] […]

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