Aug 26 2008

A day in the life of a patriarchy blamer

I can’t go 10 minutes without observing with a curled lip another of patriarchy’s grasping tentacles squeezing the life out of women’s liberation, but here are a few lowlights from my previous 24 hours:

— OK, TV blaming I can do with my obstreperal lobe tied behind my back, but this one sort of stuck out for some reason: a commercial for Pantene hair products wherein a chestnut-maned supermodel conversationally explains — you know, girl-to-girl — how easy it is to achieve her sexy hairstyle. First you buy six or seven Pantene products. You wash the hair with a few different kinds of Pantene stuff. Then you blow dry the hair “in sections.” Then you tease up the roots with, I suppose, a root-teaser. Then you put Pantene goop on it, and wind the hair around a dozen huge rollers. Then you eat 40 pounds of fudge. Then you take off the rollers and mess the hair up with your hands. Then you apply half a can of Pantene hairspray. I think there may have been another couple of Pantene-related steps in there somewhere, but who can remember all this shit without a stenographer? Still, all that, and her hair just sort of looked like hair.

Then, later, when I flipped on the tube because a hot flash had awakened me from the restless menopausal thrashing I now grudgingly accept as “sleep,” I see an infomercial hawking — get this — an airbrush for your face. It sprays a fine mist of flesh-colored slime all over your hideous wrinkles, pores, and zits, in order that you might delude yourself that you look “natural,” and thereby appease your dudely oppressors. Sure, it costs $269.95, but it comes with “eyebrow stencils” and “body shimmer.”

Oddly and unintuitively, for stuff that is so obviously fake, “natural” is a key concept in face-paint. Earlier I’d come across a copy of Real Simple magazine, which contained an article trumpeting the necessity of “glowing” skin, as well as the various species of artifice one may purchase and employ to achieve this “natural” drag queen look.

One marvels at the flaming hoops through which women are expected leap in the service of the Femininity Industrial Complex. One also marvels at the snow job. The beautyocracy has actually managed to convince women that, despite the fact that we are not bio-luminant plankton, it is natural for our epidermis to phosphoresce.

Enough with the beauty, already. I turn on the NPR, where there are occasional moments when beauty is not the central theme.

— Billie Jean King is interviewed on Morning Edition; she is perplexed that whenever a woman achieves anything, it is perceived as having an effect only on women. Since of course women — and our little hobbies — are too insignificant to have any public influence on Dude Nation. King notes that people come up to her all the time to thank her for what she’s done for “women’s tennis,” rather than for tennis in general. Her point is that women are human beings, but that still, after all this time, this niggling detail remains energetically overlooked. King has a new book and is appearing with the Geico caveman in a car insurance commercial.

On a related note, it was not until last year that women were awarded equal pay at Wimbledon.

— Terri Gross interviews some supposedly progressive dude who keeps alluding to “Obama” and “Hillary.” For some reason this particular instance of the global propensity to first-name the Vagina-American candidate drives me 7/8 of the way up the crazy-wall, and I throw the onion I’m peeling across the room.

OK, that’s depressing. How about reading a few emails?

— Blamer Jessica sends me a note about a nun beauty pageant. I’m not even kidding. The online contest is the brainchild of an Italian priest who urges his godly sisters to send him their photographs, which he will put up on his blog, purportedly to dispel the popular perception that nuns are “old, stunted, and sad,” but if you ask me it’s more likely that he just has a hot-nun fetish. There is no aspect of this repellent story that doesn’t set my lobe a-throbbin’.

[Addendum: Blamers Carrie and Cosmic Scratcher also attempted to hip me to the nun pageant, but, lumpen schlub that I am, I didn’t see their emails until the day after I published this post. Mang, I’ve got to get a new secretary.]

— I read that young Kyle Payne — you remember the delightful Kyle Payne, the Norman Bates* of “male feminist” bloggers who became a blogular anti-celebrity when he got busted for violating an unconscious woman — has been sentenced to 6 months in stir. Due to some misogyny-loving loophole, when he gets out he won’t have to register as a sex offender, but this happy, patriarchy-affirming turn of events didn’t stop him from sobbing piteously in court. If (and only if) you want to throw up, read his après-bust blog post, which takes the current craze for delusional, navel-gazing, bullshit apologies to a new and unsurpassed zenith (thanks for the links, Monika).

The phone rings.

— My sidekick Stingray, a wine nerd who has just biffed off to Napa to intern at a winery (I could not talk her out of this, despite the well-known fact that Napa is an earthquake-ridden hell-hole full of terrorists, meth addicts, leprosy, and Libertarians. Not to mention the fact that her departure would turn her into my ex-sidekick), reports that everyone at the winery, notably her boss, is a sexist pig. She is put on wrapping-bottles-in-tissue duty because “women are better at that sort of thing.” People only deign to speak to her because she’s white; the Mexican women on the bottling line are invisible to the dewds. As she is the only woman working in the cellar, she will, she says, have to work “10 times as hard” as the men in order to be taken seriously. Furthermore, nobody seems to grasp that she’s queer — which, believe me, would astonish you if you knew her. “I can’t fucking believe I have to come out at work,” she complained. “It’s been years.”

Yipes! Stingray, come home!


* He “just goes a little mad sometimes.”


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  1. CoolAunt

    I saw the Pantene ad and thought, “That seems like a lot of work for something that’s supposed to be so easy.”

  2. Squiggy

    This was the perfect antidote to my day of witnessing makeup for mmm-hmmmn channel at the DNC. Let’s just say that trannys would blanch at the thickness of the spackle and black eyeliner/fake lashes. The women’s hair after enduring lengthy, arduous techniques (and products), resembled nothing anyone has ever seen on human beings throughout the ages on our planet. Oh my, they were all very pleased with the results! Oh yeah, they were all also inexplicably very, very brown. Perhaps an unconscious freudian nod to the many races and creeds scorned by said channel.

  3. Maren

    Is that Pantene ad the one where she starts off by saying “I think volume is sexy”? Because I heard that, turned to my husband, and said “I think being sexy is important.” He said, “Yes, nothing else about you matters. Be sexy.” Then we changed the channel.

  4. Chiroptera

    On my local ‘news’ this morning, they had some woman on to talk about skin care. She brought out two heavily-but-‘naturally’ made-up teenage young ladies and basically said that it’s important to wash your face and you really *can* wear makeup without ruining your skin.

  5. norbizness

    1. I messed up on step 6 and now my head smells like manure.

    2. The epochal event happened in my hometown when I was eight months old; I’m sure I soiled my diaper with excitement.

    3. A bit unfair, considering.

    4. Agnes of God! She was the hottest!

    5. Well, avoid Iowa beginning in early 2009. I have a feeling this won’t be a challenge for most.

    6. Tell her to bring back some meth, the quality in CenTex is appalling.

  6. Shae

    Re: “Obama” and “Hillary”. I had many a futile argument over this issue during the “Clinton” and “Monica” scandal. I don’t know why people don’t see the sexism in this.

  7. KeptMyName

    I don’t have a problem with the Obama/Hillary thing. He has a last name, she doesn’t. She bowed to pressure and gave hers up. She goes between “Rodham Clinton” and “Clinton”, depending on her audience. She’s trying to have it both ways, but she really has nothing. Say the name Clinton and the first person everyone thinks of is Bill. Her daughter has her husband’s name, not Hillary’s. Hillary is second place, second class, and she chose that for herself. If the primaries had been between Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham, then I’d have expect her to be referred to as Rodham whenever he was referred to as Obama.

  8. atheist woman

    The reason that women’s stuff is never seen to affect all of humanity is because it is always seen as lesser. That’s why they are always surprised when we do something as well or better (as with the King case) as them. They are just one hundred percent convinced of our inferiority. One day we’ll get them, the bastards

  9. atheist woman

    Okay, my apologies, that needs a period.

  10. rootlesscosmo

    If Stingray should have the time and inclination to visit San Francisco, I can recommend a restaurant called Woodward’s Gardens–woman-owned, 100% woman-staffed in both kitchen and front-of-the-house, definitely dyke-friendly, and very good (though not cheap) food. Good Cuban-Puerto Rican eats (bacalao, mmm) at El Nuevo Frutilandia, 24th St. between Harrison and Folsom, and stroll over to Balmy Alley next door to check out a block of murals painted on people’s garage doors. This town has been undergoing gradual transformation into Friscoland, the Theme Park, since I arrived 50 years ago (if not longer) but amazingly the process is still incomplete.

  11. Vera

    Whatever you do, don’t listen to NPR. This morning I was entertained on the way to work by a “feminist” explaining to Michael Krasny that it’s just fine for Biden to describe his wife as “drop-dead gorgeous” and Barack Obama to describe Michelle Obama as “cute.”

    Stingray should know that there’s some sort of advanced degree program at UC-Davis in oenology. I had to look that word up, but it means you get to study wine. As soon as I’m independently wealthy, I’m moving up there and enrolling.

  12. Twisty

    Stingray informs me that the UC Davis program produces chemists in droves, but fails to churn out the sort of oenophile she had romantically expected — someone who is passionate about fermented grape juice in every aspect. The Davis graduates are, apparently, overwhelmingly business-oriented, rather than taste-bud oriented, and know next to nothing about the global and poetical context of wine.

  13. Noshoes

    “…the restless menopausal thrashing I now grudgingly accept as ‘sleep…'” Ah, Twisty. You’re the reason I come home at night.

  14. Lemur

    That Pantene commercial squicks me every time. It’s as bad as Klondike commercial where a man does something human-decentlike and gets a treat. Arg.
    And, uh, Captain Faster, did you know that Douchebag Payne still has you up on his blogroll? I don’t know if it’s just me, but I find it creepy of him. Like he’s still part of the community. Yech.
    @rootlesscosmo- If I didn’t live on the other sie of the country I would SO go to that restaurant.

  15. Twisty

    “And, uh, Captain Faster, did you know that Douchebag Payne still has you up on his blogroll?”

    Yeah, but one of the many annoying things about the internet is that you can’t pick and choose your linkors. If the guy had any sense of decency he’d take his blog down. If he just couldn’t live without blogging, he could start a new one called “Postcards from Cell Block Rapist at the Stony Lonesome” so Googling feminists wouldn’t have to come across him. Peh!

  16. Spiders

    I never understood all that “in sections” advice regarding hair styling. As if it could be in any way important.
    Like, they think if they use technical language it will add some credibility to ridiculous time-wasting practices that get us absolutely fucking nowhere.

  17. Twisty

    I’ll tell you. Back in the Jurassic, before I was any kind of blamer, I used to worry about my hair. I finally realized, after many wasted hours, that it is physically impossible for a regular person to successfully sectionize her own hair. A team of stylists is required.

  18. slythwolf

    It always makes me kind of wonder if they thought I would otherwise have put, you know, all my hair on a single giant roller thing.


    My favorite sentence is

    despite the fact that we are not bio-luminant plankton, it is natural for our epidermis to phosphoresce.

    Yesterday in was the sub-par meat socks one.

    you rite so gud it makes my brain feel gud

  20. Amy

    At the winery where I work, all the doodz just leave their dirty dishes everywhere for us tasting room workers to wash. Yes, the tasting room workers are all women! Why, how did you guess?

  21. another outspoken female

    I felt dirty just clicking on Payne’s site but fortunately the nun’s pageant made me feel a lot better.

  22. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    “It always makes me kind of wonder if they thought I would otherwise have put, you know, all my hair on a single giant roller thing.”

    My sister used to do something similar with hers. She’d sort of wrap it all around her entire head, holding it in place with about a gallon of dippity-doo-doo (IIRC, it had the consistency of fresh snot, and stale, crackly snot after it had dried) and more hardware than it takes to loft the space shuttle into orbit. Except for one section at the crown of her head that she rolled up on an empty orange juice can. The whole arduous process gave her hair that smooth Julie-Christie look that all the gals were striving for back in the day.

    All beauty rituals are aimed at earning Love. What some people think of as Love doesn’t exist. It is a construct of the people in the Marketing Department to sell stuff.

  23. Tina H

    Thank the Flying Spaghetti Monster that I have pin straight hair – I tell the brilliant woman who cuts it to give me a pixie and viola! Wash, comb, go. I loathe fussing with my hair. I’m also lucky because Nigel won’t kiss me if I have lipstick on, so I’ve tossed all make up away and go naked faced into the corporate world. Despite all worries to the contrary, I’ve even been able to get jobs.

  24. Spiders

    I just gave myself a brainache trying to picture that, Antoinette; and Slyth, you’re supposed to section it to blow dry it I believe. I don’t know how you’re supposed to keep the hot air off the sections that you’re not drying though. I guess you just have to start again from scratch if that happens.

  25. Shabnam

    I didn’t know that hair could be sectioned under the Mental Health Act 1983! Learn a new thing everyday.

  26. crankosaur

    That Pantene commercial drives me insane! If that’s “pretty easy”, then what, exactly, constitutes “difficult”? And what’s the point of wearing makeup if you want to look “natural”?
    That’s good that Wimbledon is giving equal pay now, I guess, even though women’s tennis is more popular and women should really be being paid more… Soooo…

  27. JRoth

    Perhaps if you didn’t refer to Stingray as your “sidekick” she wouldn’t have fled to the land of Clueless Wine People? Just a thought.

    That said, how shitty. Shitty to go far away, shitty to find far away to be, well, shitty.

    Maybe this is why I remain in the city of my colleging – I like it here, and somewhere else could very well suck. But I would imagine the winery internships available in Austin are hotly contested.

  28. Cassie

    I hate to draw your sidekick even further away, but the only place to REALLY study wine is old Europe. Although I expect it matches California in sexism, at least, like the wine, the sexism will be the original, genuine artifact.

    The last time I went to a hairdresser, I sat next to a stunning woman, jet black long wavy hair. It made me really happy because these days everyone is into this fascist straight hair thing. Until I saw her come out from under all the chemicals and blow dryings – her hair was straight, dead, and she looked just like everyone else. Argh. I decided not to go back to such a beauty-and-soul destroying place.

  29. julybirthday

    I, too, heard the Billie Jean King story, and LOVED her for saying, “You’d never walk up to a man and thank him for what he’s done for men’s tennis. For him, you just say “tennis”.” It made my morning and startled the children when I was you-go-girling it in the car.

    And on beauty practices, I’m trying to indoctrinate my two young sons slowly. When the older one asks me why I shave my legs, I say that it’s something some women do because they think it makes them look pretty. Then I tell him that *I* think it’s silly. When he grows up more and says “So why do you do it if it’s silly?” THEN I’ll tell him about the patriarchy. But little dewd is only 3.

  30. Val

    ??? So July why DO you waste your time w/what you yourself concede is a frustrating pointless exercise in “silliness”???
    [I told my son that it was normal for a woman to have hairy legs when he was around oh, let’s say 4 or 5.]

  31. PoMo

    I was ranting about that Pantene commercial just the other day. Easy, my ass…. By the end of the commercial I was wondering if they were trying to be ironic. “It’s so easy! All you have to do is follow these 132 steps over the next three hours and then you too can leave the house!” I was left wondering how long the not easy way would take to make me presentable for The Dude.

    Also with the recent commercial rants:

    There’s a damn Tostitos commercial where wifey, beside a countdown clock, laments how her husband has suddenly sprung all his friends over to the house to watch the game. Because of this she’s under pressure to produce snacks on short notice to the Dude Army, because, I guess she has nothing better to do, and wouldn’t want her husband to get the wrong idea: namely, that she might have equal say in the household.

  32. TP

    Stingray has always impressed me beyond all expectation in her demeanor toward one and all. Just as Twisty impresses with her amazing verbal skills and superhuman wit.

    The Stingray mystique, when I first felt it, reminded me of the hero-worship I had for some of my best friends in high school, specifically Fo Jammi, now a referee for the STL Roller Girls league. She exuded cool in a palpable way. Her cool exceeded her beauty by far, even though I have to concede, in the same way I reluctantly concede Fo Jammi is beautiful, that she is very striking. But the cool is remarkably dominant over the beauty.

    But after absorbing a tiny bit of feminist theory I have conjectured that this feeling of cool that overwhelms me is actually the uncommon lack of any and all signals of female submission. Since I live in a world where all women are constantly sending out unconscious signals of submission, I take them for granted and can only notice them by their absence.

    The fact that Stingray had to come out to her co-workers alarms me slightly. I guess most men are so blind to the humanity of any given female that they must not care whether or not she is sending out the “appropriate” signals. It’s almost braindead to assume that Stingray is anything but what she so obviously is, which is a self-contained person with no apparent need for male company of any kind.

  33. K.A.

    The “Hillary” thing irritates me too. Even feminists used it during her campaign, to which I objected, but they defended it by saying that was her doing. You really think “Hillary 2008” wasn’t chosen precisely because of sexism? She’s adapting by rolling with these constraints, but it doesn’t mean it isn’t sexist because she’s in the position to be forced to adapt! They sounded just like those trolls who say “it isn’t sexist because my girlfriend says it’s funny and my female friends don’t think there’s anything wrong with it.” And I have yet to meet someone who couldn’t figure out within the context of the election that “Clinton” meant Hillary Clinton, and when Bill did something newsworthy, he is the one who can be qualified with a first name.

  34. Cathy

    RE: Kyle Payne

    Oh, goody, just what we need – another horny feminist ally. I read his apology because I thought hurling might be a quick way to lose weight after eating 40 pounds of fudge to get sexy hair.

    There would be no apology, no sentencing, if he hadn’t been caught. I’d like to know how he got busted. I will never see justice or any apology for what happened to me.

  35. Satchel

    Stingray might be happier if she checked out Santa Rosa Junior College’s Wine Studies programs, p. 94-95:


    I can’t promise poetry, but the head of that dept. is a very cool woman.

  36. Ron Sullivan

    Hey, Twisty, give Stingray my email address for some time when she needs a break. Whatever she likes, I bet I can find some.

    Rootlesscosmo, thanks for the note about Nuevo Frutilandia; I think I used to know that but had forgotten. Up in San Rafael, not far from the handy freeway exit, Sol Food has two branches a block from each other and similarly good Puerto Rican chow. I swear I’ll drop ten bucks on a bottle of their hotsauce next time I’m there if I haven’t found a recipe as good by then.

  37. Jezebella

    Perhaps Stingray can hook up with blamer Vinoveritas (of the grand experimental forum) for some wine and blaming some day. Sounds like she needs a little blaming pick-me-up out there.

    I’ve never had so many compliments on my skin since I quit putting anything on it but moisturizer. “It looks so natural!” It’s amazing how much less yucky your skin is when you don’t slather crap on top of it every day.

    I think I’ll pass on watching Kyle Rapist sob and feel sorry for himself, thankyouverymuch.

    Hey, KeptMyName? Give over, you’re being an asshole. Hillary’s had the last name Clinton for lo these many decades. I do believe she’s entitled to call it her own, whatever YOU may think of that matter, miss holier-than-thou. Jeez.

  38. figleaf

    Seems to me that King sort of points the way past debates about whether this act or that milestone or another pair of high heels is empowerfulizing. Because usually people argue over whether this thing or that is an advancement or a setback just for women, or even just for specific individuals and don’t ask whether it makes everybody better off.

    Present company excepted, Twisty, which I would remember quicker if I wasn’t such a slow learner.


  39. julybirthday

    Val, you raise an excellent point. The reason is that living and working within the patriarchy, shaving my legs is one of MY “go along to get along” responses. I’ll for sure tell my son it’s normal for women to have hair on their legs, and continue to demonstrate patriarchy resistance in other areas of my life where I’ve been more successful at it.

  40. Medbh

    I waited on Billie Jean King years back.
    She was gracious and a classy tipper.

  41. Cycles

    That reminds me of another big lie surrounding the marketing of cosmetics and hair crap: the product doesn’t matter one fucking iota. No amount of $50 Dior eyeshadow is going make up for the fact that you’re not a professional makeup artist. In a professional’s hands, a $2 blob of paint is basically the same as a $50 one.

    Women are expected not only to purchase and apply the stuff, but they damn well better be good at it. Which, of course, requires time and training and lots of bad-makeup-related embarrassment until they get it right.

  42. Celeste

    That air-brush thing is freaky. I had never heard of it. I actually thought the spray-on tans were as bad as it got.

    Part of me wants to invest heavily in those creepy Real Dolls and then campaign that every man should just go get one, or two. It seems like killing two birds with one stone–make money while taking away any kind of “need” to wear makeup.

    Do enough stuff to your hair and it doesn’t even feel like hair anymore. BTDT.

  43. Medbh

    Also, have you seen John Updike’s maddening feature on a biography of Max Factor in the current “New Yorker”? Check out the pic of his monstrous torture device that fits over women’s heads like a cage which he termed the “beauty calibrator.”
    Yeah, thanks Max Factor for creating all the products women have to smother their skin with every day. What a turd.


  44. butterflywings

    KeptMyName – er, what?

    I mean I am all for women keeping their names if they get married and intend to do so…but…you can’t then blame the woman for being on the receiving end of sexism. (In fact I think you know what IS to blame).
    And no, I don’t think she WOULD be referred to by her second name if she had kept it.

    ALL women, yes ALL of them make daily little compromises for the patriarchy. It makes our lives easier.

    For example, I straighten my hair and wear make-up. I (sometimes) shave my legs. I don’t pretend it’s some “choice” – well technically it is, but I’m not really as free to not do those things as I know there would be negative consequences.

    Ads that pretend the *work* of “beauty” is easy? EUW.

    “Airbrush”? EUW again.


  45. schmutzie

    I’ve given you an award!

  46. Tigs

    I was fortunate enough to swing by Napa earlier this summer, and one of my favorite stops was Grgich.
    I am a big fan of their wine as well, but what I really loved about Grgich was their extensive literature.

    I love a good pamphlet, and they had pamphlets galore!
    They farm organizally/biodynamically, and there was a ton of great information on it!

    Being one who loves informative handouts, this really cemented my affection.

    I also really like the yay-merka! sentiments on the owner’s bio on the web: “Mike was miserable, though, under communist rule in Yugoslavia. So, in 1954 in search of freedom, he fled to West Germany and then made his way to Canada. But his dream destination was always America. A professor in Zagreb had told him that California was paradise.”
    Truly entertaining.

  47. Dr. Steph

    The day to day drudgery of patriarchy. Sigh.

    You’re writing always makes me a little less sad about all the things that make me angry every day.

    So does Billie Jean King.

    Off to eat some fudge whilst in stage 4 of hair transformation (just kidding).

  48. NeoCleo

    I had a shiver of deja vu reading about the facial “airbrush.” I dreamed about something almost exactly the same over a year ago, only it was more of a nightmare . . . I was shopping in Macy’s and somehow found myself in the clutches of the Chanel makeup artist. Oh, the terror! But wait, it gets scarier. She pulls out an airbrush, pops a stretchy, sheer stocking like material over my face and begins spraying on my new face all the while pattering about how it’s the latest look and everyone is crazy about it yadda yadda. Then I look in the mirror, see a blow-up doll staring back at me and the screaming begins . . .

    It stopped when I woke up but I could still hear the sales clerk’s voice assuring me that I looked “better than natural.”

  49. atheist woman

    Pfft, I have a new marketing plan for Pantene. Step one, shave head. Step two, eat a pound of fudge. There, see how easy that was?

  50. Gayle

    “You really think “Hillary 2008? wasn’t chosen precisely because of sexism?”

    I don’t know. Rudy Giuliani’s bumper sticker’s just said: Rudy 2008 so maybe it’s a New York thing.

    Whatever a woman in politics choses to do–keep her name, take his name, hyphenate, whatever–someone’s going to criticize her. It’s just one of the myriad ways women who dare grasp at power are set up to fail.


  51. atheist woman

    Twisty, I realize you don’t like it when people leave you things and ask you to comment on them. But please my brain is exploding because of this CNN article and might not be able to put itself back together for at least a week. It basically says that women are biologically prostitutes.



    It’s the biology, stupid

    Call it crass, sexist or gender stereotyping all you want, but there are thousands of years of biological programming at work here, says Dr. Chris Fariello, director of the Institute for Sex Therapy at the Council for Relationships, a nonprofit relationship-counseling group based in Philadelphia.

    Plain and simple, a partner who provides more resources — wealth, shelter, home repairs — is seen as more attractive and stands to reap more sexual rewards.”

  52. Twisty

    atheist woman, I sympathize with your exploding head. Naturally, as blamers we know that this ev-psych crap is just dudes trying to rationalize misogyny with “science.” CNN can kiss my entire Vagina-American ass.

  53. atheist woman

    Phew, brain explosion back to its normal level of slightly under mach five. Bows to Twisty’s superior level of calm before the gaping maw of insanity that is dewd nation.

  54. Gayle

    Many humble apologies for my last comment.

    My brain is obviously on vacation today.

  55. KeptMyName

    Here’s an article (first link) that supports my point about Hillary’s shenanigans with her name. She’s the one who caused the confusion. She kept changing what she wanted to be called until everyone finally gave up and went with the one constant: Hillary. In fact, Hillary is what she had printed on her campaign signs and the banners that hung behind her during her campaign speeches. It’s what’s on the big banner at the top of her website (second link).

    Hillary reduced herself to just one name, because she thought it would get her what she wanted. How can you not recognized that self-disembowelment as the ultimate obsequience to the patriarchy? The third link shows what a joke she is.


  56. Jezebella

    Yeah, you know what, KeptMyName? You’re still coming over an asshole.

    Some people might like to be famous enough to go by just one name. But, as noted above: ain’t no way a woman’s gonna win the power game. SOMEONE is going to give her a ration of grief no matter what path she chooses. So, way to have a sista’s back, girlfriend! Keep blaming the woman, okay? You’re doing exactly what the P would have you do.

    I’m off to buy hurricane supplies, and my blood-chocolate level is low. I see fudge in my future, and it’s all y’all’s fault.

  57. another voice

    but, but, but there is no pantene (or more importantly fudge) in my home. How can I follow the important steps?

  58. j


    “The third link shows what a joke she is.”

    The third link is from the Onion. You’re not serious, are you?

  59. goblinbee

    atheist woman, this was hilarious: Step one, shave head. Step two, eat a pound of fudge. There, see how easy that was?”
    Thanks for the laugh!

  60. atheist woman

    Glad to be of laughable assistance goblinbee. Har dee har, bad awful pun that might make sense only in my sleep-deprived mind.

  61. ashley

    there’s gotta be an iblamethevictims.com where hillary can really, properly be trashed just a bit more thoroughly, “keptmyname.”

  62. Wogglebug

    Come to think of it, Connecticut used to have a congressional representative named Sam Gejdenson. Because his last name was long and easily misspelled, he always preferred to go by Sam. Even his bumper stickers were square, with SAM in huge letters and Gejdenson in tiny lettering underneath.

  63. Lemur

    atheist woman, if I’d been eating fudge I’d have spit it all over my keyboard. Guess I’ll have to get some tomorrow before shaving my head. Thanks for the laugh, especially tonight.
    another voice, I believe Herbal Essences and Hershey’s chocolate is an acceptable low-budget substitute for making teh sexxay! hair.
    -Is keptmyname serious? Maybe s/he’s being parodic, yeah? …No? My naievte, it’s sad sometimes.
    And Twisty, sorry; I had a Capt. Obvious moment. You’d think the dude would show some respect and take these bloggers off his blogroll, but he’s already failed the decent-human-being test.

  64. tinfoil hattie

    Hmmm. Twisty only goes by her first name, a LOT! So is SHE bowing to the P???? Should we YELL AT HER???

    On a serious note, I see that it took about 2 minutes after Hillary Clinton’s speech to completely erase women and women’s concerns from the national narrative. BILL, JOE, and JOHN (how’s that, kepthername?) all talked in lofty terms about these important national and worldwide problems — except reproductive health and choice, rape, gender pay gap, etc. Now Barack is clear and free to not talk about them either. After he gives a gushing nod to Clinton, of course.

    Phew! Thank DOG things are back to NORMAL now, and the menz can get back to bizness. They sure put that Hillarybitch in her place. And all her cunted fans, too! High five, man!

    Yeah, I’m dried up and bitter. What’re you gonna do about it? Take away my Pantene?

  65. speedbudget

    I have super-curly, super-thick hair, and all I do is wash and schmutz some junk through it to keep it from froing all over the place.

    I get tons of compliments.

    Does this make me subversive? I must admit though, when I get a haircut, the hairdresser invariably asks me if she can blow my hair straight, and I let her. You see, with my hair straight, I can get away with two or three days of non-washing of the hair and it’s a totally different look for me.

    I do NOT, however, section and blow dry my own hair. That’s what a 30% tip is for.

  66. Tigs

    I’ll step up and blame Hillary’s middle of the road, capitalist, liberal, imperialist, just-plain-boring platform.
    Other than that she’s got a vagina, I don’t really like all that much about her.*

    But the sexism? Not her fault.

    *I hold no fantasies about the radical-ness of any of her dudely counterparts. She’s just no saviour either.

  67. tinfoil hattie

    Yeah, I hear you, Tigs. But I wonder if she were to ever run again, would her platform be more progressive, after all she’s been through? We’ll probably never know.

    Also, I’ve been thinking about it, and her’s my story:

    I changed my name after I got married. Know why? I wanted my mother-in-law to approve of me. I kept my own name for a long time, and she told Nigel it was an insult to Nigel’s father that I refused to take their family name. I was a feminist then, too. (Not as blamey, but the best feminist I knew how to be.)

    I used my son’s birth as an “excuse” to change my name to theirs, knowing it was b.s. and that I was succumbing to the pressure of a person who will never like or approve of me, no matter what I do.

    I regret it. I wish I had had the courage of my convictions, not to mention many more years of therapy under my belt, to just laugh it off, be strong, fight the pressure, and keep my own damn name. (Yeah, yeah, it’s my father’s name, etc.)

    Twelve years later, I’m thinking of changing it back. Nigel’s reaction: “I never really understood why you changed it to begin with. I was surprised when you did.”

    So, I bowed to the patriarchy. I did a stupid thing. I was not an uber-feminist. I wish I hadn’t done it.

    Would you like to shame and blame me too, now? Because I asked for it, and made the choice, and shouldn’t have done it, and what kind of feminist am/was I, and too bad for me if I don’t get more respect as a woman?

    See how it does no good to blame the woman? Because we all have a story about how and why we do things, and the consistent, unrelenting plotline is: PATRIARCHY.

  68. H.

    At the winery where I work, all the doodz just leave their dirty dishes everywhere for us tasting room workers to wash. Yes, the tasting room workers are all women! Why, how did you guess?

    If you absolutely have to wash the dudes’ clothes – if it’s a case of do it or lose the job, may I suggest washing them ineptly? Like, washing them pink> (add a new, red t-shirt to the wash by ‘accident’)? Wash them too hot, resulting in amusing shrinkage? There are lots of ways one can commit sabotage in the domestic-arts arena and maintain a facade of total innocence or dear, sweet ineptitude that will see you relived of the task at hand.

    Me, I’ll most likely ask them if they have a wrist deformity that means they can’t turn on a simply machine and a reading issue that means they cannot understand very simple instructions. I’ve used that one in the past when men claimed they ‘didn’t know how to do laundry’ and it has inevitably shamed them into silence – and doing their own washing without looking around for a vagina-owner to ‘help’ them (read: do it for them).

  69. H.

    Oh god, excuse my typos and failure to close my italics tags. I shouldn’t type while still half-asleep.

  70. Jezebella

    “but, but, but there is no pantene (or more importantly fudge) in my home. How can I follow the important steps?”

    Hon, if you were a Good Patriotic American, you’d already know the answer to this question! Shop, for the love of Maude, GO SHOPPING! Or, you know, the terrorists will win.

  71. Amy

    Oh, I said dishes, not clothes. But I getcher point. It’s not so much a matter of “you must wash the dudely dishes or be fired” as it is that the kitchen is where I have to wash glasses for the tasting room and when it’s covered in filth I can’t really do that. And we get mice. I’ve just kind of taken to letting them pile in a heap till somebody else does them. Unfortunately, this person is usally another woman. Maybe I’ll wash them, but wash them in the toilet! (This is vinoveritas. Hi Jez!)

  72. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    Hey, Jez, what’re you doing, channeling Rudy Giuliani?

  73. Jezebella

    Wha- huh? Did I just post that? Really? I HATE it when that happens. Stupid Rudy and his zombie tricks.

  74. LisaB

    As another curly haired person, I could write a book about everything I did to straighten my hair when I was younger. It was ridiculous torture that involved numerous bobby pins, braids, blow dryers, flat irons, chemicals, baseball caps and, yes, a pair of stockings on my head. I now wear it curly and wash it only once a week – the savings in shampoo and conditioner is amazing, but I do use gel to keep the total frizz at bay.

    As a writer/editor, I am always very careful to use last names for both sexes. But it’s true that “Hillary” used her first name in her branding; mostly to distinguish herself from her husband, is my best guess. It was being used so much that I did end up alternating between calling her Hillary and Clinton in pieces I wrote (after using her full name in the first instance, of course).

  75. lightly

    Just wanted to mention that in the case of Hillary, calling her Clinton could be confusing. I would be curious to see if the practice continued if the candidate were Pelosi.

  76. slythwolf

    It ceases to become confusing if you call her Senator Clinton and refer to Bill as former President Clinton. This is one of the reasons we have these official titles–so we know who the fuck we’re talking about.

  77. oscuro

    In Hillary Clinton’s specific case, I agree with LisaB about the differentiating from Bill. However, I always figured that the constant need to first-name women was so that we would KNOW that they were, in fact, women. Last names tend to lack any essential gender clues, allowing women to sneak around unnoticed.

  78. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    H, that approach only works for teh menz. Episodes of domestic violence have occurred when a female person exhibits household-chore ineptitude whether she does it purposely or by accident. Because, y’know, we’re genetically programmed by our double Xs to be good at that stuff. They’ve done studies and everything.

  79. Karen

    Bill should actually be referred to as “Governor Clinton.” Ever since I learned about this rule (elected officials no longer in office retain the title they last held, unless that title is unique), I’ve watched for it in the media but not once have I seen it used. So, Governor Clinton, Ambassador Bush, Governor Reagan, Governor Carter. That’s as far back as I go. What did Nixon do before the White House again?

    I put this out not to blame slythwolf, but in the hope that it’s the kind of esoteric rule that many of us enjoy knowing.

  80. LisaB

    Karen, where does this rule come from? I’m an editor and I’ve never heard of it. AP style is to call them all President.

  81. BigFish

    I too noticed the “first” “last” name thing.

    Good for Billie Jean King! Now that you mention it, I have never heard ONE man ever say that he admired what she did for the game of tennis, even though those who owned tennis courts in the 70s made really big bucks as women rose as stars.

    I don’t believe men think women contribute anything to the world, unless it is some selfless deferential woman who bows down to patriarchy — Mother Theresa etc. But I thought Mother Theresa was pretty clever in outwitting the pope and pretty much doing her own thing.

    As to hair care, BeautyOccracy… no women don’t ever have to use any of those products; it’s why they have so little money saved up for retirement when they get to be age 63.
    I still hear women tell me they spend $700 at a day spa, and one of my neighbors said she fled Beverly Hills because she got sick of facelift nation over there.

    The make-up industry really feared radical feminism in the late 60s and early 70s, that’s why they’ve gone into hyper drive to get at young girls and pornify the fashion “industry.”

  82. Wogglebug

    Karen, for all our Presidents, “President” is the title they last held. That’s why they still get it as a courtesy title. Who on earth told you to use the next-to-last title?

  83. Genevieve

    I visit Napa every summer. It’s pretty much my favorite place on Earth, mainly because it’s so gorgeous. And I love wine. While I’m sorry your friend is having some trouble there, don’t knock the town.

  84. slythwolf

    The way I learned it was, etiquette-wise, you call them “President” to their face and “former President” behind their back, presumably because dudes whose egos have been allowed to swell to fill the entire White House can’t stand to be reminded that they don’t live there anymore.

  85. Karen

    I have this rule from Miss Manners, who in her 2005 book admits that it is hardly ever followed anymore. Wogglebug, yes, “President” is the last title they held, but it is unique. There is only ever one sitting President, and one sitting Vice President. According to Miss M., these unique titles are not (should not be) retained.

    slythwolf said, “dudes whose egos have been allowed to swell to fill the entire White House can’t stand to be reminded that they don’t live there anymore.”

    That’s another reason I like this rule! Being president is not like being a king or queen in Narnia!

  86. mearl

    Wow…read the link to Kyle the Rapist’s post. He is on his way to a long and fruitful career as an opera singer…the whole post was just “Me me me me meeeeeeeeeeeeeee.” His self-focus is unfortunate, but hardly a shocker.

    Well, I’m off to entertain myself by never, ever buying any Pantene products… but I just might eat some fudge. Haven’t had any in awhile. See y’all later! Love that you’re posting again, Twisty.

  87. rubysecret

    “At the winery where I work, all the doodz just leave their dirty dishes everywhere for us tasting room workers to wash.”

    Well, it’s clear they’re leaving dirty dishes behind for someone to do something with them, but what exactly? Hmmm, that’s a puzzler.
    I’d have guessed they wanted them
    1) Wrapped in colored cellophane with a big bow, left on his desk or at reception, with a large tag with a big smiley face that reads “Your Dishes, Mike Wzowski!” or “My Name is Mike and I’m Too Important To Clean Up After Myself.”
    2) Same package left on the owner or manager’s desk with a note that reads “from Mike.”
    3) Taken out and left on the hood of his car.

  88. grace

    Regarding the use of a term for past presidents, I’m not sure, but perhaps another way around this is to use the term ‘president’ in the lower case to refer past dewds?

    As it is no longer a title/pposition they hold, the term then becomes a simple adjective: “… as noted by former president Bill Clinton.”

    Just wondering.

  89. Cathy

    Wow, tinfoil hattie, your story sounds just like mine! Same guilt-tripping mother-of-Nigel, same changing-so-people-know-I’m-my-kid’s-mother. But unlike yours, my Nigel also added to the pressure, with credit cards having to have his last name. Having my last name on my driver’s licence differ from the credit card is causing problems, now that people are checking to see that they match.

  90. Kira

    I really enjoy Twisty’s postings. But I find sometimes, in the comments, that I get frustrated by all the “I wear makeup, because…” “I changed my name because my mother in law was pushy…” “I don’t have my name on credit cards because my Nigel wanted his…”

    I blame the patriarchy. I really, really do. And perhaps I am just a young, novice patriarchy blamer who has yet to purge the urge to also blame some women, but this issue really gnaws at me. I want to blame the patriarchy, but how do I avoid the impulse to also blame the ones that go-along?

    I am not perfect. I’m not claiming to be holier-than-thou. Really, I am trying not to be. There are so many things in this huge wide world to blame the patriarchy for, that are not in our direct control. But how come, for the things that are in our control (namely, name changing in marriage), there are so many women not pushing against the P?

    Really, I said it above and I want to repeat. I am not trying to be inflammatory. I DO blame the patriarchy for these “traditions”. But I find myself so frustrated, and so so disappointed, each time an acquaintance, friend, or co-worker marries and then changes his or her name when they marry.

    What is the point of blaming anonymously on blog comment threads if we are not actually talking the talk in real life?

  91. Amananta

    Sometimes I feel very lucky to be a single mother, as bizarre as that may sound. My name is my kid’s name. (I changed my name to one of my choosing years ago, so it isn’t my mother’s husband’s name either.) What I lose in financial support I gain in not having a personal avatar of the patriarchy in my home to order me about and teach him that this is what wives are for.

    Anyway I thought the reason women didn’t have any money saved up for retirement is because we get paid 2/3s of what men do for doing the same amount of work.

  92. Stephanie Walters

    Dear Twisty,

    I’ve been an avid reader of your blog and fanatic patriarchy-blamer for quite some time. I never truly discovered the extent of my distaste for patriarchy until I discovered your blog. I’d like to let you know that you’ve had a huge influence on my decision to actively pursue my education of women’s studies and, overall, educate myself further on the subject of feminism. I know you’re not writing this blog for anyone but yourself but hopefully you can appreciate the positive impact you have on young women everywhere.

    I was hoping you could recommend some books (memoirs, manifestos, anything) that have helped shape your beliefs. I suppose most of it would be based on common sense but I was hoping I could read more on important subjects in feminism so that with adequate knowledge of the history and issues…I could feel comfortable with my beliefs and be able to defend them wholeheartedly.

    Hoping you can respond,

  93. goblinbee

    Kira, I’m so glad you wrote what you wrote, because I sometimes find myself feeling disappointed too. I no doubt also fail to rebel and push back against the status quo in many ways, but I don’t understand the easy things–not changing your name, not wearing make-up, not shaving your legs, etc. I have never failed to get jobs or husbands, so I’m not sure why peole are so convinced they have to capitulate in these ways. Has my expereince really been so different from others?

    This is not to say I am not often inspired by the blametariat! I am, I am! I have loved so many comments and laughed and sighed and nodded my head in agreement many times. But I am also puzzled at the resignation I sometimes hear. If you draw a line, who can tell you you must step over it? I would love if in the safety of this forum we inspired and gave courage to each other to stand up for ourselves in all the ways we can.

  94. jezebella

    Kira, I would suggest that your youth is *exactly* the reason you have felt less intense pressure to conform in what seem, today, like the “easy ways”. They have not always been so easy.

  95. jezebella

    so easy to resist, I mean.

  96. Carrie

    “As another curly haired person, I could write a book about everything I did to straighten my hair when I was younger. It was ridiculous torture that involved numerous bobby pins, braids, blow dryers, flat irons, chemicals, baseball caps and, yes, a pair of stockings on my head. I now wear it curly and wash it only once a week – the savings in shampoo and conditioner is amazing, but I do use gel to keep the total frizz at bay.”

    I hear you there. As a black woman who keeps her hair natural (no chemical straighteners), I can tell you that the overwhelming question from those who know me- especially my own black relatives and friends- is “Why?!!” Apparently, there is no proper hairstyle for someone with my hair other than relaxed. Grr.

    By the way, I’ve been a lurker for some time, and I gotta tell you that I LOVE the Twisty way of blogging!

  97. goblinbee

    Well, I’m the one that said “the easy ways,” and I’m 51.

  98. tinfoil hattie

    What I lose in financial support I gain in not having a personal avatar of the patriarchy in my home to order me about and teach him that this is what wives are for.

    And yet, I was the one who succumbed to the patriarchy — not Nigel. I presented my name change as a done deal, and he was completely surprised by what I had done.

    Patriarchy. So very insidious.

  99. Virago

    “I regret it. I wish I had had the courage of my convictions, not to mention many more years of therapy under my belt, to just laugh it off, be strong, fight the pressure, and keep my own damn name. (Yeah, yeah, it’s my father’s name, etc.)”

    I changed my name when I got married because of pressure from my husband. The funny thing is that it took several weeks to actually change my name because I had to wait for the official marriage certificate to come in the mail so that I could proove I got married. In those first few weeks, I had people sending me checks as a wedding present made out to Mrs. HisLast Name, and I still wasn’t legally Mrs. HisLastName yet. Trying to cash those was a huge pain. I rented some movies, and I signed the rental papers with my maiden name because that was the name on the account, and my husband had a fit. God, they all thought presto chango and, it’s done, but it’s a lot of paperwork, and a huge pain in the ass. Anyway, I got divorced, changed my name back (for some reason that was less of a hassle), and I’m not changing it againl. Yeah, I know it’s my father’s name (and he was the uber patriarch), but at least, it’s a name I inherited by blood. I hated my mother’s maiden name, and so did she. Anyway, I will never change my name again even if I get married again, and any children I have will have my last name. I didn’t have any children with the ex so that wasn’t an issue.

  100. Kira

    Thanks Goblinbee.

    And, let me just thank whoever coined the term “pornarific” in terms of a woman’s self-evaluation of how she may be vacuumed into to the heart of the P.

    It’s the first word to mind the minute I’m even just the most mildly tempted by product like…a skin “mattifier” to subdue my raging sunburned face (who the fuck cares if I’m shiny and red? Really…does it MATTER?), or whatever. I’d like to think I’m not tempted often, but when I am, the question “Am I trying to be…pornarific here??” immediately and completely and totally squashes the impulse. And really, if that wasn’t enough, just trying to google the spelling of pornarific, and seeing the first page of google results, was enough to repulse me from being, ever, in the most slightest of forms, the embodiment of this verb FOREVER.

  101. Carolyn

    Hi Stephanie–I just wanted to write to recommend a couple of books to you–Reflecting Men at Twice their Natural Size, by Dale Spender, and How to Suppress Women’s Writing, by Joanna Russ. I’ve only recently read both of these, and regret that it took me until my 40s to discover these ideas. Also, I’m a civil engineer and find it inspiring to read the histories and biographies of women engineers (I’d venture to say none of whom the ‘mainstream’ has ever heard of)–e.g. Sarah Guppy, Beatrice Schilling, the woman who designed and built one of the most difficult stretches of the first Indian railway (with a gang of female Indian labourers), whose name we don’t even know (I learned about her through two lines of a male engineer’s obituary)…if you want any more details, please feel free to contact me through my website. I admire you for being willing to take on the challenge of convincing men that women are people.

  102. Dana

    When I got divorced my in-laws handled the legal stuff because I was indigent and we were doing this long distance. I insisted that regaining my maiden name be a condition of the divorce. My stepmother objected vociferously, claiming that my son would be confused because he and I would no longer have the same last name.

    It didn’t occur to me til much later that if I’d remarried and changed my name again, wouldn’t I have had a different name from his anyway?

    He was later adopted by his dad’s mother and stepfather, and then my ex was re-adopted by his mother and adopted by his stepfather (long stupid story involving another grandparent adoption), so they all have the same name now which is different than the one I had for a married name, so it’s a moot point now.

    When I was pregnant I didn’t know which flavor I was getting and I told my little girl’s dad that if it was a girl she would have my last name. He agreed, but it wasn’t up to him in the first place. Single mothers have more rights over our kids in the state of Ohio than divorced moms do.

    I don’t mind having my dad’s last name. I relate to him somewhat better than I do to my mother or my (now former) stepmother, and the name has interesting history behind it. And I have no idea what I’d change it to if I wanted my own name. Still, I wonder sometimes who the first woman in my line was and what her name was. I have no female family identity to speak of, and IBTP.

    Years ago I used Pantene shampoo and conditioner. Then I went in for one of my extremely rare haircuts (I get it done maybe once every five years, and cut it shorter myself in between about every two years or so) and the stylist wanted to know if I used Pantene. It has a very distinctive fragrance, one of which she was not inordinately fond. I think I remember her saying it’s not that great for your hair either. I’d rather use Burt’s Bees anyway; at least I can pronounce most of the ingredients. Better yet, shave it all off and use soap.

  103. saltyC

    Terry Gross annoys me. How many boring dudes with marginal excuses for fame such as some book does she have to interview before ever talking to a very significant woman??? Same problem with Amy Goodman. They really should know better. Talk about dude-identified women.

    PS NPR stands for National Propaganda Radio.

  104. XtinaS

    Wrt dirty dishes in the sink, one could always (a) investigate getting a humane mouse trap due to (b) being vindictive and putting the dishes away dirty.

    Or you could mail the dishes to some third party, put their address as the sender part, and put the package in a mailbox somewhere.

    …so I read a lot.

  105. Rosa

    Kira, I work on my own womanblaming habits by

    1) Remembering that blaming women for the patriarchy is one of the tools of the patriarchy, and

    2) Trying to respect that everyone resists to the extent that they feel able.

    I moved to a nice big less-makeup city, where my life is pretty darn easy, including my kid having a different last name than his dad, not having to femme up for a job, having useable city buses, etc. That means I abandoned my sisters in my rural home town, so the hair and makeup brigade back there are doing something I couldn’t do – being there at all. They have different challenges, like feeding the grapevine information about which doctors think your health is more important than the after-child sexual pleasure of your baby’s father.

  106. buttercup

    name changing-I took Nigel’s last name when we got married because
    1)my father was an abusive, abandoning, non-support paying asshole who pretty much ruined my mother’s life from the age of 15 on and why should I continue carrying HIS name around?
    2)I’ve always wanted a one-syllable last name
    3)it has a z in it. A last name with a z in it is awesome.

    The pantene commercial about how easy it is to get your hair to look like that-reminds me of the botox “express yourself” commercials. Wha? Huh? No. Also, my head is big enough, I don’t need giant hair making my head look even bigger.

    Re: HRC-she can’t win for losing. I would not blame her one bit if she gave up on politics for good and bought an alpaca farm in nebraska.

  107. Aine

    If it actually made me phosphoresce, I’d be tempted to buy that stuff….
    Oddly, I seem to recall a quote that goes something like this:
    “Laborers sweat, gentlement perspire, and ladies glow”

    so…looking sweaty is a good thing now? awesome.

  108. Root.racine

    On the nun-beauty pageant note, may I point you to this article from 2007. It’s old, sure – but topical.
    “Nuns fired for refusing to be maids”
    Credit goes to the Feminist Peace Network – Atrocities list.

  109. The Hedonistic Pleasureseeker

    My friends, neighbors and family members wonder why I keep shaving my head even though my hair has grown back from its auto-immune hissy fit. I think I’ll forward this post to the next person who asks.

    Whenever I need to appease (earn a paycheck, not frighten people, whatever) I throw on a cheap synthetic wig. Saves me a FORTUNE in Dippity Doo. Meanwhile, underneath I’m rocking 1990’s Sinead O’Connor, or Marine if I’m too lazy to shave. I won’t go back to “doing my hair.”

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