«

»

Oct 25 2007

Thursday memoirette

lawnjockey.jpg
Photo originally uploaded at Phillyburbs.com.

Patriarchy-blaming tends, on this blog, to be expressed in broad strokes. I’m forever making with the feminist aphorisms. You know. “Pornography is the graphic representation of women’s oppression.” Or, “Being sexually manipulative is not an expression of personal sovereignty.” Or, “Irony is the enemy of dinner.” These glib remarks sound majestic in a generalized philosophical tract, but they perhaps imply a line of demarcation between pedantic theory and the fact that such concepts actually manifest more or less ceaselessly, down in the trenches.

Yep, I so often pronounce on this stuff from the detached perspective of a reclusive spinster-philosopher, sometimes I forget to notice how the culture of oppression permeates my own trench. To illustrate, I offer a recap of eight hours in my life — a memoirette, if you will — told first from the point of view of a happy-go-lucky gentleman farmer (who shall remain nameless), then viewed through the jaundice-colored glasses of a disillusioned dissident:

Happy-go-lucky gentleman farmer version:

Yesterday my sister Tidy and I combined a scenic drive in the picturesque Texas Hill Country with a horse-trading errand in San Antonio. We biffed on down, test-rode a handsome hunter/jumper, shot the shit, stopped at Taco Cabana for a bean-and-cheese, and returned to Austin having enjoyed, en route, breathtaking vistas, placid herds of Black Angus cattle dotting the hills, and the occasional llama sighting. Later I washed down a tuna-on-wheat with a glass of Pinot, watched TV, and chatted on the phone with my chum Jovita.

Disillusioned dissident version:

Yesterday my sister Tidy and I buzzed down to San Antonio to see a woman about a horse. I wore boots made of tortured-bovine skin and clothes made by Asian slave labor. When I emerged from my petroleum-dependent vehicle at the large equestrian center, I perceived a black lawn jockey displayed prominently and unapologetically at the entrance to the barn.* This barn comprised some 80 stalls which, because they are bedded with pine wood shavings, produce untold tons of uncompostable waste annually.

The horse we’d come to see had been specifically trained to reflect, in a highly stylized manner, an affectation of the landed gentry. In its original incarnation this affectation involved galloping horses cross-country over hedges and fences in pursuit of foxes which would, when caught, be ripped to shreds by an attendant pack of dogs.

After I rode this horse, he was returned to his 12′ X 12′ cell (the horse is 5 1/2 feet tall at the shoulder and weighs 1300 pounds), where he is customarily imprisoned 22 hours a day on his bed of toxic, urine-soaked wood shavings.

The horse’s owner, by way of illustrating the animal’s unflappable demeanor, related an anecdote about the time a “truckload of Mexicans” tried to run them off the road during a trail ride (the horse, a paragon, was apparently unmoved by this brush with the Great Unwashed, thus legitimizing his ridiculously high asking price). I was gripped simultaneously and unreconcilably with a revulsion toward her racism, a feminist urge to sympathize with what must have seemed to her an unprovoked and potentially life-threatening attack on her female person by jeering assholes, and a sense of admiration for the horse’s grace under pressure.

On the way back to Austin Tidy and I traveled the back-roads through ranch country, where herds of cattle are raised to be butchered as the world’s most inefficient food source. Occasionally we’d pass a “For Sale — XXX Acres” sign, which meant that soon a developer would be bulldozing these hills to make room for an imminent infestation of exurban ranchettes. Once, literally in the middle of nowhere, we saw a roadside shrine composed of ten or so Old Glorys — probably made in China — surrounding a storebought sign — also probably made in China — that read “God Bless America.” But the most garish homage to the Invisible Celestial Concierge to be found in Central Texas is a 50-foot lily-white cross looming from a church parking lot over Interstate 10 in Boerne.

Back in Austin, even though I had recently gorged on a corporate fast-food taco and was in no way, shape, or form hungry, I ate a sandwich of mercury-poisoned fish and consumed a legal mind-altering substance***.

Somewhat afterward I watched a 1985 Louis Malle documentary about life in rural Minnesota, called “God’s Country,” wherein a whole town of honky midwesterners are revealed to be racist, misogynist, homophobic Republican hayseeds whose all-American Norman Rockwell lives are eventually derailed by Reagonomics.

Then I had a telephone conversation with my pal Jovita (who, despite a degree from the Chicago Art Institute, earns a living schlepping mediocre food to drunken patrons in a hellhole of a South Austin diner). During this conversation, a combination of exhaustion, wine, and a paucity of ovaries precipitated a dip in my customary euphoria, whereupon I bummed Jovita out by postulating that all art, hers and mine included, is nullified of value by dint of its having been spawned within a culture of domination that creates both the “rules” of aesthetic theory and the manner by which one acquires the taste to appreciate it.

Then I tossed and turned all night, determined to liberate that horse from his racist jailers and disgusted with the extent and unknowable consequences of my — and of every other white American’s who can afford to agonize over a horse’s future — privilege footprint.

Thus we see that the gentleman farmer, whether she stops blogging about it or not, and however assiduously she attempts to insulate herself from patriarchy’s poisonous megafarts, cannot draw an oppression-free breath.

___________________
* Gazing upon the chipped statue, with its grotesquely exaggerated features, bowed posture, and grateful arm extended in homage to honky superiority, my mind was blown. “Are they fucking kidding me?” I hissed to my sister Tidy. “Who has a fucking lawn jockey in 2007?”

Quoth Tidy, sadly, “You’re not in Austin anymore, Dorothy. You’re in Texas.”

And yeah, I know all about the supposedly “proud moment in African-American history” that black lawn jockeys supposedly represent. Even if it’s true that the statues once surreptitiously “pointed the way to safe houses” in the Underground Railroad, there’s no way I’m buying that the all-white denizens of the riding stable I visited yesterday have at the forefront of their daily concerns a wish to commemorate Abolition. I mean, it’s not even February.

** Had the horse reacted normally to this close encounter with a speeding truck, which is to say, had he spooked and bolted, he might have chucked her into a barbed wire fence.

*** I mention that this substance was legal merely to emphasize the absurd fact that some substances — on accounta the ancient and endless, racist and classist, pointless and senseless “War on Drugs” — are il-legal.

93 comments

3 pings

  1. Edith

    That’s complicated stuff, the whole “do I get mad at this woman for being a racist, or do I feel empathy as a feminist for her having to deal with male violence?” If anyone has an answer to that, I’ll buy them a drink, or something less legal.

  2. pisaquari

    She wakes.

    (more later)

  3. thebewilderness

    Please rescue the horse. Thanks.

  4. Crystal

    “exurban” is fan-tas-tic.
    I’m also big on animal liberation. “Responsible pet owner” to me is usually just another way of saying “benign captor.”
    Obviously there are exceptions, but I’ve spent a lot of time around horses and dogs and the like, and that’s where I stand on the issue. I certainly don’t want to be anyone’s “alpha.” It kind of freaks me out, actually.

  5. MzNicky

    Holy Mergatroid on a mole-slathered burrito. Twisty is back. Thanks be to the Dog above.

    Once again, you sum up in the most sublime of prose the stream-of-consciousness that is my life’s narrative, more or less.

    I suggest Buddhism. Or at least a modified, Buddh-ish philosophy. Namaste.

  6. Pinko Punko

    So the glass is half full?

  7. Pinko Punko

    Additionally, I would like to add this recent study concerning optimism bias. Apparently the glass really isn’t half full most of the time, but if you are wired such that you are more “pessimistic” or accurate in reflection about the glass’s fullness, you may also be prone to depression! WTF!??!?

  8. rootlesscosmo

    Glad you’re back, and this post absolutely nails the reality we’re all stuck in. I have nothing useful to offer except to note that realizing this (in between the interludes of tryingveryhardtoignoreit) is why I don’t mind being 65 and minus part of a lung. I miss my youthful energy, sure, but I wouldn’t have it back at the price of staring into a 50-year future.

  9. rafalah

    Yes. I only cheer because I have also recently been ‘twisting in the wind’ so to say; all of our choices suck.

    There are no heros. Only truth teller’s i.e. Twisty.

    Meanwhile, we all stumble on, veering from horror to more horrible.

    Free the horse, befriend the woman–at least both choices recognize that white male privilege trumps all.

  10. kcb

    “privilege footprint”

    Yes. Thank you.

  11. TallTxChick

    Praise be! Twisty is back. My soul is refreshed.

    Soothe yourself by turning all patriarchy on its head (which of course includes liberation of the horse). I once purchased from a Hill Country store a genuine Uncle Tom cast-iron piggy bank as a gift to a friend (also a good country girl) of the African American persuasion who quite literally worked for The Man. The Man had recently suggested (though his heart was in the right place) she sell her soul to his people in order to further her career.

    I suggested she place the Uncle Tom bank on her desk and fine him anytime he suggested turning to evil in the future.

    She at least appreciated the gesture. I am obviously way too proud of myself for all this. But it did teach me to venture back to the country without losing my way.

  12. bushfire

    That sounds a lot like my own thoughts.

    I hear a conversation in the lunchroom about how somebody’s sheets on their spare bed match the paint on the wall in their spare room, and everyone thinks “how lovely, how stylish” and I think “how upper class… if I had that much spare money I’d donate it to a women’s shelter…”

    My neighbour accross from the house I grew up in had one of those lawn jockeys. My mom mentioned one time that it was racist, and that’s the only time anyone ever talked about it around me.

  13. Infantilized

    Welcome home! To pain, I mean.

  14. slade

    So is there any way we can get that horse outta there and blame it on a truckload of mean Mexican men?

  15. TwissB

    Does anyone but me remember the very early Saturday Night Live sit in which the cast mockumented what they did during the summer hiatus. We saw Garrett Morris waking up reluctantly to the blare of the alarm clock, sleepily getting dressed and driving to the job site, walking through a huge warehouse-like building, being greeted by fellow workers, finally arriving at his work station, changing into his workclothes, mounting a little platform and assuming the curb jockey position to model for a roomful of curb-jockey moulders. One didn’t know whether to laugh or to cry.

  16. TwissB

    Drat! I meant “skit” not “sit” and the American spelling, I find, is “molders.”
    And there should have been a question mark after “hiatus”. Despite what the date hack says, it’s 1:15 where I am.

  17. stekatz

    Did you actually like the horse? While it’s tempting to go rescue it, it might not make much difference. I’m sure the horse trader will have that box stall filled with a new resident lickety split. Besides, while that horse is even tempered against a truckload of Republican’s scapegoats, how would it react to a truckload of MRA’s or rape apologists? You want a horse that won’t back down in that situation either.

    How about a visit to your friendly, local mule skinner (that term is not as bad as it sounds)? Both mules and the folks who love them tend to be pretty down to earth.

  18. tuckova

    I mean, it’s not even February may not have been the funniest line, but it is the one at which my smile burst out into snort.

  19. S. D'Attournee-Lawson

    We’re all cosmic fools; and, to misquote a famous Russian, at least there are suspension dots…

  20. S. D'Attournee-Lawson

    Sorry–I know you hate them! They’re not all bad. Maybe they’re my stepping stones to better sentences?

  21. Carol

    “Invisible Celestial Concierge.”

    Well done.

  22. Bird

    Additionally, I would like to add this recent study concerning optimism bias. Apparently the glass really isn’t half full most of the time, but if you are wired such that you are more “pessimistic” or accurate in reflection about the glass’s fullness, you may also be prone to depression! WTF!??!?

    Yes, sadly, it’s true. Realists are far more likely to suffer from depression. They’ve looked at people’s self-image, for example. Those who are realistic and honest about their capabilities are more likely to be depressive; the overconfident are usually happy. Personally, I think this may help explain why more women are depressed than men (plus there’s that whole being oppressed thing).

  23. josquin

    Whoooosh! Fresh bracing trenchant air rushes through my sloggy morning upon reading more of Twisty’s finest. So good to have you back.

  24. josquin

    PS: The blamership is spared my long, winding rant on the issue of whether to rescue or not rescue by the exigencies of living-earning. These complex animal issues get me even more fired up than all the babies, BJs and high heels the world could ever present.

  25. EN

    This one goes out to everyone I know.

  26. Vera

    I had already decided that I’m not leaving the house today!

  27. Frumious B.

    Why aren’t pine wood shavings compostable? I mean, the mountain of urine soaked wood shavings mixed with horse shit such as would be produced by 80 stalls worth of horses would be unaesthetic, uncompostable? I don’t understand. Every organic composts eventually.

  28. CJ

    Twisty, I’m a regular reader and (I think) first time commenter.

    This post was, without doubt, one of your absolute best.

    This conundrum has me in a twist, pardon the pun, most seconds of most days.

    Reducing our respective ‘privilege footprint’(s) to the faintest possible is about all we can hope for, yes?

    Pointing the middle finger at patriarchy being an enormously healthy, worthwhile, and satisfying step.

    Blame on blamers, blame on!

  29. slythwolf

    Well, I clicked on the lawn-jockey-related link and now I want to make a Jacob’s Ladder quilt and hang it symbolically on my washing line. First I’ll need to move somewhere where I can put up a washing line, and then I’ll need to find someone to teach me how to make a quilt.

  30. Pinko Punko

    Bird,

    Also, if you are realistic, you are constantly placed in the position of bringing other people “down” and thinking you must be surrounded by insane people or insane yourself. Yay!

  31. norbizness

    Keep Fredericksburg Weird!

  32. W

    Perhaps the knowledge of these injustices is the best defense against the patriarchy; after all, once everyone in our society (or the majority or what have you) is aware of them, then the revolution will immediately take place.

    I think it was WH Auden that said “All I have is a voice to undo the folded lie.”

  33. The Reverendly Obtuse B. Dagger Lee

    This eye looks with love
    This eye looks with judgment
    Free me take the sight out of this eye

    –Edie Brickell & the New Bohemians, “This Eye”

  34. jolie

    hey, twisty, that’s some awesome chit! glad you’re back!

    btw – you gonna get the horse?

    jolie

  35. TP

    I’m no fan of dualities. Besides optimistic and pessimistic, there is what I think of as concerned detachment and delusional obliviousness, and maybe a couple of other states as well. I aspire to concerned detachment, which is where Twisty makes me feel I am.

    And as for the horse, I’m really happy it will be liberated to El Rancho Deluxe, where it will be much loved and cared for. I’m hoping for pictures in the near future!

  36. yankee transplant

    This was worth the wait. Filed under Classic Twisty.

  37. Melissa

    When I need a little affirmation that patriarchy is real and not my friend– that I’m not making this shit up; it’s not just because my serotonin levels are low– I come here and read me some Twisty.

    My life doesn’t look much like yours, Twisty, except for that pervasive background noise of privilege. I don’t think you and I would have much fun hanging out. We’d probably annoy the shit out of each other.

    It Means Something, though, (like the mountain of mashed potatoes in Close Encounters) that the stupid bullshit in your life and the stupid bullshit in my life, as different as those lives are, add up to the same patriarchy. So thank you. You are exceptionally good at this.

  38. Maggie

    What the hell are you drinking? Wow!

  39. Suzz

    “I bummed Jovita out by postulating that all art, hers and mine included, is nullified of value by dint of its having been spawned within a culture of domination that creates both the “rules” of aesthetic theory and the manner by which one acquires the taste to appreciate it.”
    /
    Mimesis! Check out Elin Diamond, who wrote “Mimesis, Mimicry, and the ‘True-Real.’” She has some interesting suggestions about producing feminist art and representing feminist truths whilst living in the midst of a fucking patriarchy.

  40. Tupe

    I read this post listening to Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers singing “No, I don’t see her much since she started with horses / I don’t see her much since she started to ride.” Now that I’m posting it’s switched over to ‘I Was Dancing in the Lesbian Bar.’ And I really want to enjoy this crap. And I kinda don’t all the time. 70′s and 80′s sentimental geek rock aside, mine is the generation (born under Reagan) that can only own the most recent load of bullshit. Because the whole world is bullshit and we’re the youngsters now of an age to produce more? I don’t know anymore.

    Warning too late: this post has no conclusion.

  41. Ron Sullivan

    Bullshit makes good compost. It just needs time to rot well.

    And in my experience, pine shavings compost just fine. Might take a little longer: see above. Tincture of Time: Good for What Ails You, including Life Itself.

  42. Lara

    You speak my daily thoughts so well Twisty, it’s so good to have you back.
    And it’s moments of self-reflection like those that make me consider becoming a hermit….
    I just had to sit through two hours of “comedic” hell watching Knocked Up with family members and guests. IBTP. Always and forever…

  43. Flash

    Rescuing one horse only makes room for another to fill the same slot. Fighting on so many fronts isn’t possible, so only bite off what you can chew when the scales fall from your eyes (I’m mixing metaphors because it’s Saturday and my brain hurts). You’ll need more of that legally mind-altering substance otherwise. An ethical life is such hard work.

  44. Jezebella

    Alas, Slythwolf, the Underground Railroad Secret Code Quilt is an undocumented myth. The whole body of info on it stems from one 20th century interview with one person whose parents were slaves, which has blossomed into widely accepted and repeated folklore. So, you can cross “learn to quilt” off your to-do list.

  45. Susan

    Excellent post, Twisty. Glad to see you back in the swing of things. I’ve been losing too much sleep lately worrying about how much plastic I throw away, ever since I read this article on the Plastic Ocean:

    http://www.bestlifeonline.com/cms/publish/travel-leisure/Our_oceans_are_turning_into_plastic_are_we.shtml

    Living an examined life is hell and you articulate it beautifully.

  46. alicepaul

    great post!

    one thing: doesn’t the accusation of being “sexually manipulative” blame/judge the women a bit too much? Forgive me if I misunderstood, it just sounds harsh. “Sexually subservient” or “sexually acquiescent” makes a bit more sense to me in that sentence. I just think that “manipulation” implies that women hold certain amount of sexual power over men, which we all know is not the case. Also, dudes frequently use a woman’s supposed sexual manipulation as a justification for rape. (“But she was being a cocktease”)

  47. TinaH

    Slythwolf, I hereby volunteer to teach you to quilt. We could do Log Cabins with black centers in addition to Jacob’s Ladders, myth or no. If all else fails, we could do Drunkards Paths, which were reportedly done to raise money to help end domestic violence by getting men to drink less. I don’t know if that’s a myth or not.

    Besides, even though insurance doesn’t cover it, quilting is so much less expensive than therapy. And when you’re done with therapy, you still wouldn’t have a quilt.

  48. CaffeinatedQueer

    Hurrah for quilting. Though I am neither spinster aunt nor gentleman farmer, I do at times fill my idle hours with stitching together blocks. It is lovely therapy, and a fine tradition regardless of the Jacob’s Ladder quilt myth. I’d love to have a patriarchy-blaming quilting circle with y’all.

  49. kate

    Great write. My thoughts pretty ramble on in the same way, with the same criticisms, particularly in that my line of business literally puts me into people’s houses. This gives me ample critical mass to deal with, oftentimes I don’t know whether its the physicality of work or my endlessly critical thinking about us humans and our behavior that tires me out at the end of the day.

    I’ve always been accused of being “very intense” as well and with an undercurrent of anger. Being busy surviving under my high expectations keeps me too busy for depression.

  50. HermitWithAVengeance

    “I bummed Jovita out by postulating that all art, hers and mine included, is nullified of value by dint of its having been spawned within a culture of domination that creates both the ‘rules’ of aesthetic theory and the manner by which one acquires the taste to appreciate it.”

    Whether or not art is entirely nullified of its *positive* value by way of existing within structures and perceptual lenses of “power-over,” I do not know that this relation has any import on the *negative* value of art. To spend one’s time, personal or professional (and in art, where is the difference?), on painting, writing, taking photographs, making music, and other aesthetically-oriented pursuits, other enterprises of truth and beauty, is in our society to deny one’s time and energies to other enterprises more directly associated with the subjugation, degradation, and destruction of other human beings, our environment, and all creatures and ideas in-between. That is to say, to be an artist is to claim a role that is categorically incompatible with, say, the role of mercenary. And since time is zero-sum, role becomes reality.

    It goes without saying that negative value isn’t the brightest silver lining in the book. And of course there are “borderlands,” instances in which perhaps an artist works to visually represent Blackwater in the television spots its public image so badly needs, or elsewise blurs the categories and goals in such a way as to lessen (while still not obliterating) the negative value of engaging in artistic pursuits rather than actively engaging in (asymmetrical) total war. Still. One does what one can; and, barring that, one does what one must.

  51. Pinko Punko

    I submit this deeply patriachical day:

    1) I’m already riding the dudewagon
    2) I heard Sister Christian by Night Ranger on the radio.
    2a) Motorin!!!
    3) I attended a wedding
    4) I rushed home from said wedding to turn on the tv.
    5) Baseball was on the tv, and I chose this to occur.
    6) I may have eaten 8-12 Chips Ahoy.

    But may I offer this comment palate cleanser in the form of a St. Vincent song?

  52. Emily

    Ah, true. Like a deep breath of fresh air.

  53. saltyC

    TwissB, wow that was a great sketch. Didn’t it end with the James Bond theme “Nobody does it better”?

  54. PhoenixRising

    The torn-to-bits-by-hounds aspect of the foxhunt tradition is troubling indeed. I recently explained this to my young blamer in the context of her participation in said tradition, and she doubted me deeply. That is, she literally didn’t believe that anyone would think hunting foxes on horseback with dogs to help was at all fair to the foxes. Specifically, she noted that her horse could injure or kill a fox accidentally by stepping on it.

    I would insist on withdrawing her from the sport, except that we have not found an alternative that is remotely as healthy. While many of the horse people are the lawn-jockey-owning-in-all-12-months type, the trainer with whom we work is the type mythologized so ably by Alix Dobkin.

  55. me

    Pinko, I have to ask: by “I’m already riding the dudewagon” do you mean that you’re male, or were you offering up some thinly disguised TMI about your morning, er, activities, or both?

  56. Ledasmom

    For what it’s worth, I put the used shavings (kiln-dried pine) from the guinea-pig cage, plus any soiled hay, on the garden as mulch. It is not the prettiest mulch ever, but it does keep the weeds down. We have quite a nice anise hyssop and a spearmint surrounded by this mulch of shavings and guinea-pig poops, and growing with great enthusiasm. The anise hyssop is a wonderful plant with which I was not familiar until we bought one for my son’s garden; it was covered for most of the summer with reddish-purple flowers, plus bumblebees, and has a wonderful sweet licorish scent when you brush the leaves. It also seeds itself anywhere and everywhere, not such a bad thing for us lazy-gardener types.

  57. thebewilderness

    “Did you actually like the horse? While it’s tempting to go rescue it, it might not make much difference.”

    It will make all the difference in the world to that horse.

  58. Tigs

    [quote]
    That is to say, to be an artist is to claim a role that is categorically incompatible with, say, the role of mercenary. And since time is zero-sum, role becomes reality. [/quote]
    The problem being that to be able to choose this role is almost always a choice made only from a position of privilege. I’m with you that choosing art is better than managing hedge funds, but being able to devote your time to painting pretty pictures is certainly not ‘carbon-free.’
    Ay, there’s the rub.

  59. Pinko Punko

    Me,

    I am dudely, but I didn’t really think about my construction. Now I see it could have had numerous meanings. Also, I admit to eating additional Chips Ahoy than I previously admitted.

  60. kate

    Tigs: “I’m with you that choosing art is better than managing hedge funds, but being able to devote your time to painting pretty pictures is certainly not ‘carbon-free.’”

    Thank you Tigs. Social strata and other events, a lot hingeing on the patriarchy caused me to have to pursue those ends which would feed, house and clothe me. The best I could do was refuse to become a part of the corpotocracy, which many impoverished days leaves me to wonder if I made the right choice afterall. Which is of course, exactly how the social construction is supposed to work. Denial of the path of least resistance does not guarantee an easy time.

  61. HermitWithAVengeance

    Tigs, sir or madam: In my humble understanding, the carbon footprint of any enterprise requiring raw materials one cannot make from scratch or gather in the backyard is an entirely separate issue from the choices individuals make whilst being inextricably situated in international webs of commerce and power (power-with, power-over, etc) with regards to varying situations within these webs and varying constructions and uses of choice and decision.

    On the first point, no enterprise of creation will be free from culpability in global warming and environmental degradation writ large until we have developed new technologies for effectively transporting goods and services. This does not mean that we cease to create.

    On the second point, I would invite you to expound. Issues of agency are tricky, and I want to hear more about what you intended to communicate on this point. I rather suspect that, by explaining ways in which we are powerless, we sometimes disempower ourselves even more — no agency is perfect, no set of choices free of being shaped by various inequalities of opportunity and outcome alike. This does not mean that agency does not exist, and indeed need not make it any *less* meaningful — it simply changes the terms of what may constitute meaningful, effective, and politically possible resistance.

    Blame on.

  62. Dr. Steph

    Glad you’re back even if I’m a tad depressed at my own choice of living more in the first memoirette to avoid the second one which makes me tired.

  63. Crystal

    As much as I love reading this blog, I have to admit that I’m starting to wonder what going on with all the conspicuous consumption.
    The IPhone, the utilikilt (over $200 doesn’t sound very utilitarian to me), and thoroughbreds?
    Aren’t these all status markers in the P?
    Is this part of the joke on a site called “I Blame the Patriarchy?”
    Are you waiting to see how long it is or what level it gets to before anyone will mention it?
    Because if so, I was totally okay with letting the Iphone pass and the utilikilt (quality garments can be worthwhile) but expensive animals is kind of where I feel comment is required.
    Is this a commentary on what, as feminists, we find to be acceptable consumption?
    I think I’m reading way too much into this.

  64. slythwolf

    Slythwolf, I hereby volunteer to teach you to quilt. We could do Log Cabins with black centers in addition to Jacob’s Ladders, myth or no. If all else fails, we could do Drunkards Paths, which were reportedly done to raise money to help end domestic violence by getting men to drink less. I don’t know if that’s a myth or not.

    Sounds plausible to me; that was a main basis of the temperance movement–the suffragettes, in addition to wanting the vote, wanted women to stop having to deal with assholes who beat them up, and it was a popular theory that if the assholes just didn’t get drunk, they wouldn’t beat their wives. I can’t say I feel it was a particularly sound theory–it’s always been my belief that people who will beat you up when they’re drunk will probably find an excuse when they’re sober–but their motives were good.

    Besides, even though insurance doesn’t cover it, quilting is so much less expensive than therapy. And when you’re done with therapy, you still wouldn’t have a quilt.

    This is very true. Also, I win at that game–I don’t have insurance in the first place.

  65. Tigs

    “Issues of agency are tricky, and I want to hear more about what you intended to communicate on this point. ”

    I agree with you that we need to celebrate and grab onto moments of agency, but I also think in order to really progress you need to really own the damage you do even in your resistance.
    I think that we can only really have a genuine political voice when we acknowledge the contradictions we bring to the table.

  66. kate

    Recluse: “On the first point, no enterprise of creation will be free from culpability in global warming and environmental degradation writ large until we have developed new technologies for effectively transporting goods and services.”

    I’d posit that a large portion of needless consumption and thus the usurpation of resources occurs long before the product is loaded onto the truck. Also, the problem of services, as concerning human services, is not always directly related to the carbon footprint they leave. Indeed, many of those engaged in services across the world, by virtue of their position and the return for those services, leave a comparably smaller footprint than those who purchase said services.

    Recluse: “This does not mean that agency does not exist, and indeed need not make it any *less* meaningful — it simply changes the terms of what may constitute meaningful, effective, and politically possible resistance.”

    In what way can one change the terms of resistance? If resistance can be considered an act which is in negation to or in direct opposition to an undesirable act, then what terms are there to change? There seems very little twisting and turning available within such a black and white dichotomy, no? One can claim they engage in resistance of lesser or greater degrees, but terms change? No, I think not.

    Crystal: “Are you waiting to see how long it is or what level it gets to before anyone will mention it?
    Because if so, I was totally okay with letting the Iphone pass and the utilikilt (quality garments can be worthwhile) but expensive animals is kind of where I feel comment is required.
    Is this a commentary on what, as feminists, we find to be acceptable consumption?
    I think I’m reading way too much into this.”

    I don’t think you are reading too much into it, I think those are questions that should be legitimately asked.

    I would hope that many feminists would realize that a large number of women are not allowed to worry about their carbon footprint, but in fact, are castigated because of their lack of such.

    Since money = power and power = voice, the voice most often heard is that of the guilt ridden, who must flagellate about their over consumption, while on whole, enjoying it thoroughly with no intention of stopping.

    Since women still get the short end of the stick economically and since capitalist power comes from economic exploitation which most often rides on the backs of women, I’d say that over consumptive behavior is rather anti-feminist and serves to justify the existing power structure, instead of working to change it.

  67. kate

    Phoenix Rising: “I would insist on withdrawing her from the sport, except that we have not found an alternative that is remotely as healthy.”

    Surely you jest. All this time I’ve been under the assumption that bike riding, playing ball and running around the park were worthy exercises, but apparently I was misled and my children are probably crippled for life.

  68. Dawn Coyote

    On the days when I am so much a part of the problem that I can only trust the things I don’t think up on my own, I can still trust my visceral reaction to art.

  69. Tupe

    Punko: Admitting to Chips Ahoy Privilege is the first step toward riding the allywagon.

  70. finnsmotel

    You know Jovita? Cool. I got to play at Jovita’s this past spring. The post-gig meal was one of the best parts of the trip. That and the massive tree that shades the back patio.

    As for the privilege footprint, patriarchal footprint, carbon footprint and every other footprint, I would guess that a person can reduce them all completely by jumping off a bridge, but, then you’d never get to see this house thing through. And, who would save the horse?

    Sarcastically speaking, aren’t all attempts to manage one’s footprint (of any flavor) bounded by some sort of aesthetic or other? Isn’t it a fashion thing? A belief that one’s own particular philosophical view of what is good for an entire planet are most definitely informed and affected by cues from the culture that one is immersed in.

    Even Manifest Destiny probably seemed right and just when it was in fashion. Now, not so much.

    If I have a point, it’s that I think highly intelligent beings, such as yourself, Twisty, can create compelling intellectual arguments both for and against enjoying ourselves. I’m in favor of you and Jovita enjoying yourselves! Get the horse and have her paint it!

    -finn

  71. Mama Bear

    This sentence: “I was gripped simultaneously and unreconcilably with a revulsion toward her racism, a feminist urge to sympathize with what must have seemed to her an unprovoked and potentially life-threatening attack on her female person by jeering assholes, and a sense of admiration for the horse’s grace under pressure.” …Made me clap at my computer screen.

    Don’t ever stop blaming.

  72. Seraphine

    There are too many jeering assholes in the world, and not enough lawn jockeys (because there aren’t enough lawns anymore).

  73. Fiona

    kate: Regarding your response to Crystal, thank you for taking the time and having the “courage” to say what really needs to be said. I think it would be fair to add the elitist, ridiculously celebrated consumption of “haute cuisine,” another marker of status that overtly and unapologetically propagates the culture of domination through factory farming and other practices that are accepted in the name of corporate profit. It will be interesting to see how many people either rush to the defense of said hyper-consumers or ignore the very valid point completely. As you said, “Since money = power and power = voice, the voice most often heard is that of the guilt ridden, who must flagellate about their over consumption, while on whole, enjoying it thoroughly with no intention of stopping.”

  74. DaisyDeadhead

    Terrific post, and thanks!

  75. mearl

    Pinko – I suppose we’d have to get the scientists to define “depressed” for us. I’m a pessimist (read:”realist”) but I derive continual delight from bringing everyone around me DOWN, since I do it with such flair and aplomb. In fact, I amuse myself and others endlessly and we all have a cheery laugh about the ghoulish realities of daily life. Does that make me a sociopath?

  76. TwissB

    saltyC

    I just found your note on the Garrett Morris sketch. Since it was so long ago, I don’t know if “Nobody Does It Better” was the sound-over at the end – but it would have been perfect.

    I wonder why SNL’s periodic self-congratulatory anniversary celebrations never feature the best, most imaginative sketches like the Garrett one, or Danitra Vance’s dreamy teenager out on her tenement fire escape telling us the plot of Romeo and Juliet, or Jan Hooks and Willie Nelson in the western diner, or Stuart Smiley doing Daily Affirmations with Michael Jordan, etc. Instead, it’s endless replays of the boring Wild and Crazy Guys bits nt – perfect fare for patriarchs in training.

  77. WoollyPunk

    I’m a first time commenter, but here goes:

    Twisty, this post neatly and articulately sums up a nice portion of my life and pratically all of my interactions with my family of origin. I think you already know this, but there are two major points (the way I see it) about how to react to your hands being thus tied:

    1) you reach out and create community with others who will feel buoyed and buoy you up in the face of the ol’ patriarchy and

    2) you remember that this is exactly why you prefer to take a systematic analysis to the state of the world. If it takes more than one man to create a patriarchy, more than one capitalist to create a proletariat class, and more than one white person to create a system of African slavery, surely it takes more than one spinster aunt to rectify all of this?

    Although all of your posts are on depressing topics, I almost never feel worse and almost always feel better after reading them. So, in spite of all your conspicuous consumption and privileged footprint (which I don’t dispute are problems), you must be doing something right.

    Blame on!

  78. Pinko Punko

    Mearl- no way! It sounds like you fit in with a nice little group. I think sociopaths don’t go in for clubs like that. I could be wrong, though.

  79. Marjorie

    Wow.

  80. scout

    Pinko Punko, thanks for the link to St. Vincent. I bought the CD and loved it.

  81. saltyC

    Hi TwissB,

    Yes the irony note on that song was perfect. Not a dated observation that people who play out a stereotype feel proud that they do it well. I distinctly remember it being at the end montage of finished statues and Garrett’s prideful posing. Of course I didn’t get the poignancy of it back then.

  82. PhoenixRising

    Kate, sorry to offend your sensibilities. I doubt your kids are crippled for life.

    Mine, OTOH, was saddled with various diagnoses that all translated to Will Not Be Self-Supporting while she was still but a tadpole. We analyzed the option ‘crippled for life’ and set about finding the people and activities that would allow her to reject it on her own behalf.

    The horse world, as gag-a-riffic as some of its snottiest proponents can be, has been the balm I’m most grateful to do well enough ripping off The Man daily to pay for.

    Obviously your mileage has varied, and I commend your choice of blaming the patriarchy as a method to use some of the leisure time flowing therefrom.

  83. Ron Sullivan

    Fiona:

    I think it would be fair to add the elitist, ridiculously celebrated consumption of “haute cuisine,”

    Chris Clarke’s got Twisty outmatched on that one.

  84. Orange

    Completely off topic: My kid and I were shopping at CVS the other day, and the music that was piped in? Toto’s “Africa.” I told my son, “This is my number-one jam.” Having heard both his parents overuse that line a couple months back, he was not so pleased, but I amused myself no end.

  85. Crystal

    Thanks for the responses to my comment.
    I agree about people going on about how “bad” they are and then continuing to do it. I do plenty of stuff that’s not so great, but I usually only occasionally mention it even though I’m totally aware of it on a regular basis. Also, I’m trying to alter the behavior. For example, I drive a lot right now. I have a small fuel efficient car, but it’s still a lot of driving, and it’s necessary for me to live right now, but I’m trying to change my situation so I don’t have to. I don’t think that just saying “oh yeah, I’m terrible about the car thing” takes the place of doing something to alter it.
    Lately I almost feel like environmental and social consciousness is almost a hipness factor thing. It’s almost as if the awareness that what you’re doing is wrong gets just as many points as actually not doing it. Does anyone know what I’m talking about with this? Like, it’s only the people who don’t know how negatively their lifestyle impacts the world around them that are uncool and unacceptable.
    Another thing that really bothers me is this idea that we can’t do anything about, or at least without becoming freaks. I mean, yes, we are trapped in the Patriarchy, so we’re never going to get off free, but man, there’s a lot that one’ can change. People are always like, “but what are you supposed to do, live in a cardboard box?” I used to accept this train of logic until I actually stopped to think about it.
    By giving up my car, air conditioning, porn-addict boyfriend, tv, totally unnecessary consumer goods, ethically and environmentally heinous food choices, status marker clothing and accessories what do I lose?
    The answer:
    Nothing of real value. Convenience is definitely lost, but that hasn’t ever done me any good anyway. Catching the bus I do have to wait in the hot sun or rain sometimes, walk a bit more, take some more time and encounter some unpleasant odors, but I also meet other people and have quality experiences that I wouldn’t otherwise. It’s way better than watching the news for seeing what’s really going on in the world.
    Yes, everyone’s situation is different, and I’m still totally a horrible consumer in a lot of ways, but I’m not going to pretend that my recognition takes the place of actual action in any way.

    I guess it just comes down to what our real priorities and wants are.

  86. Victoria Marinelli

    I saw one of those detestable statuettes the other day while walking my dog in an unfamiliar neighborhood (near the vet’s, where I’d just picked him up from his bath). Tried to get him interested, but alas, he wouldn’t pee on the damned thing.

    Then again, had I been successful, my intent might have been misinterpreted by any passersby. Also, it appeared that someone was at home, and folks here in Richmond, Virginia (particularly those inclined to possess “lawn jockey” statuettes) just love their guns, so perhaps it’s just as well.

    In somewhat related news, I just heard a rumor (which I’m still trying to confirm) that CNN’s Hispanic-Hater-In-Chief Lou Dobbs will be visiting our fair city somewhat soon. In the event I can persuade myself to actually leave my house for the occasion, I may attend protest with signage to the effect of “Zero Tolerance For Ethnic Cleansing.” (Because even though I hated that phrase when I first heard it, as it seemed like a way to nice-fy genocide, now it seems like a potentially useful way of conceptualizing the current anti-immigrant fervor.)

    (*goes back to hiding from the entire world, save for the aforementioned dog and a few hominids in my immediate vicinity*)

    P.S. Twisty: I had been using your blogging hiatus as a vicarious justification for my own. Now what the hell am I supposed to do?

  87. Kim

    Great post.

  88. Crystal

    You know, all those food pics and pet pics on here have always sort of bothered me, but I’ve ignored it because I figured that I can’t impose my own veggie values on others or expect them to hold them.
    This post and the ensuing comments, in conjunction with some other stuff made me realize the real reason why it all bothers me and why I will no longer be reading this blog. So, here goes:

    1. Not only do I not eat meat and am totally unable to afford haute cuisine – I don’t even have a fucking camera to take pictures.

    2. I also can’t afford to take drives through the countryside because I can hardly afford gas to get to school and work. I have to decide if it’s worth five bucks in gas to go visit certain friends. Yes, this is a result of personal decisions I’ve made, but shit it’s annoying having someone talk about the suffering they endure agonizing over their fossil fuel consumption when I’m actually actively trying to get rid of my car and start catching the bus and having to make big sacrifices.

    3. I always feel like maybe I’m not cool enough to post comments on this blog or something. Like, “oh shit, what if I use ablist language!!!” Good fucking god. This is ridiculous. Apparently y’all are accepting of everyone as long as act exactly as you want them to.

    4. The only difference between the gentleman farmer and the “dissident” is that the happy go lucky one isn’t feeling superior to some other woman and calling her racist to all her like-minded friends on the internet.

    5. I now understand why my roommate always says that liberals are the new conservatives.

    6. All of your posts not specifically related to women’s issues seem to be all about proving that you can be just as honky as as any dude.

    [b]7. This whole post is just you saying that even though you’re just like some honky, you’re better than the other honkies because you you’re aware of how honky you are. That just makes you the biggest honky of all.[/b]

    8. I’m ashamed of myself for implying in a comment on another thread that the Pentecostal guys I knew were some kind of ignorant fools when they always treated me with respect.

    So now I’ve decided to go back to shooting the shit with some real people in real life who aren’t so fucking honky that the have to spend all their mental energy trying to affirm to themselves that they’re not and stop acting like I need to discuss things with some special group of special people on the internet. Now I’m just going to keep having fun conservations with the born-again Christian guy and just let him know that I think the Chick lit tracks are offensive but I still enjoy his company – he already knows that I don’t think I’m going to hell. At least I know that he’s not too REVULSED by my inferior belief system to associate with me. He still treats me like a person.

    There’s nothing radical about this. It’s the same old bullshit yet again.

  89. Fay

    I thought of this post when I read this article on denial in the New York Times.

    It appears that you don’t have whatever gene it is that gives us our basic human ability to deny, deny, deny. And it is denial that lets us get along with each other and ignore the enormous piles of bullshit that hold up our society as we currently know it.

  90. Shell Goddamnit

    I was kind of sympathizing with the slight bit of Twisty-bashing here – I mean, the noble steed is being considered for rescue from the racist person, but not some zero of a mud-blood horse. Is it rescue if you woulda done it anyway?

    But I’m not about to go off yelling about how liberals are elitists because Twisty wants a horse and can afford to take a drive into the hill country, ya know?

  91. island mamma

    Lets set the horse free and the lawn jockey too!

  92. Lamb Cannon

    As a boy in the late 60s i lived in a Western MD town that was full of those porch/lawn jockey thingies.

    We considered them a symbol of George Wallace etc. whose ideas were quite prevalent in MD in the day… (the Dem who ran for governor against Spiro Agnew in 1964 had as his slogan “A Man’s Home Is His Castle.” The implications, Twisty, I’ll let you run with that. It is really spooky to think it made Spiro seem like a truly great guy)

    Anyhoo, one drug-addled night we decided to take anger, and since these things were mostly made out of plaster, we drove around and took turns smashing them to powder with a sledge hammer. Adolescent boys really like to smash things as you know, and this seemed like a very smart way to assuage that.

    So finally it was my turn. I jumped out of the car and sized up a particularly large jockey (in “Security MD” right down the road from Fiddlersburg, these are no longer on the map btw) and gave it a really good whacking smack on the head.

    The funny thing, this one was cast iron like the one you show, and the paint was still fresh so it wasn’t obvious to me in the dart. The result, if you’ve ever seen one of those Warner Brothers cartoons where a toon beats something immovable with a big mallet and the vibrations go thru his body wa wa wa wa…. that’s just what it’s like! Man did that hurt

    You bring back so many tender memories, Twisty, great blog as always!

  93. Helen

    Jeez, Crystal, you’re tense aren’t you? Have a nice lie down. Here, have a cup of tea.

    Don’t even have a camera? Oh, paper bag in the middle of the road!

    FOURTH YORKSHIREMAN:
    Who’d have thought thirty year ago we’d all be sittin’ here drinking Château de Chasselas, eh?
    FIRST YORKSHIREMAN:
    In them days we was glad to have the price of a cup o’ tea.
    SECOND YORKSHIREMAN:
    A cup o’ cold tea.
    FOURTH YORKSHIREMAN:
    Without milk or sugar.
    THIRD YORKSHIREMAN:
    Or tea.
    FIRST YORKSHIREMAN:
    In a cracked cup, an’ all.
    FOURTH YORKSHIREMAN:
    Oh, we never had a cup. We used to have to drink out of a rolled up newspaper.
    SECOND YORKSHIREMAN:
    The best we could manage was to suck on a piece of damp cloth.
    THIRD YORKSHIREMAN:
    But you know, we were happy in those days, though we were poor.
    FIRST YORKSHIREMAN:
    Because we were poor. My old Dad used to say to me, “Money doesn’t buy you happiness, son”.
    FOURTH YORKSHIREMAN:
    Aye, ‘e was right.
    FIRST YORKSHIREMAN:
    Aye, ‘e was.
    FOURTH YORKSHIREMAN:
    I was happier then and I had nothin’. We used to live in this tiny old house with great big holes in the roof.
    SECOND YORKSHIREMAN:
    House! You were lucky to live in a house! We used to live in one room, all twenty-six of us, no furniture, ‘alf the floor was missing, and we were all ‘uddled together in one corner for fear of falling.
    THIRD YORKSHIREMAN:
    Eh, you were lucky to have a room! We used to have to live in t’ corridor!
    FIRST YORKSHIREMAN:
    Oh, we used to dream of livin’ in a corridor! Would ha’ been a palace to us. We used to live in an old water tank on a rubbish tip. We got woke up every morning by having a load of rotting fish dumped all over us! House? Huh.
    FOURTH YORKSHIREMAN:
    Well, when I say ‘house’ it was only a hole in the ground covered by a sheet of tarpaulin, but it was a house to us.
    SECOND YORKSHIREMAN:
    We were evicted from our ‘ole in the ground; we ‘ad to go and live in a lake.
    THIRD YORKSHIREMAN:
    You were lucky to have a lake! There were a hundred and fifty of us living in t’ shoebox in t’ middle o’ road.
    FIRST YORKSHIREMAN:
    Cardboard box?
    THIRD YORKSHIREMAN:
    Aye.
    FIRST YORKSHIREMAN:
    You were lucky. We lived for three months in a paper bag in a septic tank. We used to have to get up at six in the morning, clean the paper bag, eat a crust of stale bread, go to work down t’ mill, fourteen hours a day, week-in week-out, for sixpence a week, and when we got home our Dad would thrash us to sleep wi’ his belt.
    SECOND YORKSHIREMAN:
    Luxury. We used to have to get out of the lake at six o’clock in the morning, clean the lake, eat a handful of ‘ot gravel, work twenty hour day at mill for tuppence a month, come home, and Dad would thrash us to sleep with a broken bottle, if we were lucky!
    THIRD YORKSHIREMAN:
    Well, of course, we had it tough. We used to ‘ave to get up out of shoebox at twelve o’clock at night and lick road clean wit’ tongue. We had two bits of cold gravel, worked twenty-four hours a day at mill for sixpence every four years, and when we got home our Dad would slice us in two wit’ bread knife.
    FOURTH YORKSHIREMAN:
    Right. I had to get up in the morning at ten o’clock at night half an hour before I went to bed, drink a cup of sulphuric acid, work twenty-nine hours a day down mill, and pay mill owner for permission to come to work, and when we got home, our Dad and our mother would kill us and dance about on our graves singing Hallelujah.
    FIRST YORKSHIREMAN:
    And you try and tell the young people of today that ….. they won’t believe you.
    ALL:
    They won’t!

    I’m sure you can get a working digital or analogue camera through a pawnshop or other second hand outlet. You really sound like you enjoy the hair-shirtiness of it all, though, so I won’t get in your way.

    We don’t enjoy Twisty because of her Purity (that’s your schtick) but for her brilliant writing and her ability to shed light so wryly on a variety of topics – and the fact that she’s damn funny. So, off you go, have that aspirin and lie down,love.

  1. Still defending Dove (now please send me free stuff) « blue milk

    [...] in this world, exploitation and privellege are all around us, we’re steeped in it, and everyone has to draw a line somewhere with what they’re prepared to live with, even radical f…I choose to draw my line around Dove’s campaign. They’re ‘this close’ to [...]

  2. Comments liberated from mod queue; hiatus continues at Vortex(t)

    [...] the blogosphere these daze. (Though I did pay a quick visit to Twisty’s, and even left a comment.)  Recent posts (in the Fragments category, of course) have just been automated blips from my feed [...]

  3. monday chew-on-this « mmm, brains!

    [...] A horse story from I Blame the Patriarchy. [...]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>