Nov 30 2008

Thanks for nothing 2008


With all the patriarchy I’ve been blaming over the past few years, I’ve somehow drifted away from my roots. That is, it’s been quite a while since I’ve posted a photograph of my lunch.

Who among us right-thinking honky Americans is not conflicted (“conflicted” meaning the discomfiture experienced when it becomes necessary to juggle opposing concepts in order to avoid rocking the boat. It is a funny word the use of which I cannot advocate, but which has nevertheless crept via some sinister psychotic impulse into the spinster vernacular. But what preposition to use? Is one conflicted with, by, or over a thing? Stupid ungrammatical word) on accounta Thanksgiving? Like all holidays, it is riddled with horrors. Smallpox blankets. The spurious Squanto mythology. Genocide. The expectation that one manifest a hearty, convivial mood in the bosom of the fam despite the fact that the whole binge is (a) quasi-godbagious, (b) a shitload of extra work for the womenfolk, and (c) poultry-based.

Regale me not with sanctimonious tales of your tofurkey, by the way. It’s not like the soybean industrial complex isn’t a major player in the megatheocorporatocracy.

And you know? All the vegan Thanksgiving feasts the details of which many of you will not be able to resist posting in the comments section? Still no good. That’s right. Because feasting of any kind, while fun-filled on the surface of it, cannot, in this culture, be accomplished without guilt.

I don’t mean pop-psychology “white” guilt; without question millions of Americans are perfectly capable of greasing their colons with the traditional 37.8 pounds of fat without giving the the American honky’s role in world hunger the flicker of a thought. I also don’t mean the self-imposed I-shouldn’t-be-eating-this-delicious-fatty-meal-
because-of-social-pressures-to-be-thin-and-“healthy”- type guilt. Maybe gluttony isn’t of the highest philosophic importance, but capitulation to patriarchal beauty mandates is the worst possible reason to modify your relationship with the feed-trough.

When I say you can’t feast without guilt, I mean actual guiltiness. It’s the privilege principle. When the stuffing of the maw at Thanksgiving is experienced as oppression by Native Americans and atheists and factory turkeys and the millions of humans globally who are screwed by honky American excess, it is irrelevant that your intent is innocent, or that you are a “good” person, or that a nice dinner party with good food and good friends is what makes life worth living and who am I to cast aspersions, or that if you’d blown off Thanksgiving dinner your mom would’ve been pissed. None of this shit matters. The reason we are able to exist the way we do is that somebody else isn’t able to.

Not that anything will fix it.

Well, revolution maybe.

This complaint is not specific to Thanksgiving feasts, of course. Guilt obtains twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. It’s like the Eyes of Texas. You cannot get away.* I blame the patriarchy for the whole lousy set-up.

Thus, my leftover stuffing and ativan lunch.

* The University of Texas fight song is a creepy stalker’s anthem.


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  1. Mel

    Yeah, guilty as all hell, but drinking several glasses of wine and napping with my little dog snoring away on my tummy was so needed.

  2. gimmeaminute

    Godbagious is my new favourite word.

    But yeah, guilty as charged with both the guilt and the guiltiness.

  3. liberality

    I am very guilty, as charged.

  4. lawbitch

    Guilty as charged! Damn right “a shitload of extra work for the womenfolk.” I spent two days cooking in a hot kitchen for ungrateful relatives.

    I’m planning a much quieter, scaled-back Christmas holiday. No gifts for adults, no extended family, no glutenous feast, etc. I plan to volunteer at one of our local events. That’s not sticking it in the eye of the megatheocorporatocracy, as I would like, but at least I won’t be in the middle of the frenzy.

  5. mara

    “…but capitulation to patriarchal beauty mandates is the worst possible reason to modify your relationship with the feed-trough.”

    I love that line.

  6. Shira

    I spent Thanksgiving with a family of Christian missionaries in Ankara, Turkey. The highlight of the evening was being lectured by a white American dude, while standing next to a Turkish person and while existing as a woman, on the nuances of Turkish culture and the irrationality of denying the inherent “psychological differences” between men and women (“It makes just as much sense as being an atheist!” he said to me. The only thing we agreed on).

    Good times. Who doesn’t love listening to some blowhard who stopped forming opinions around the time he first became dimly aware (enough to shit on everyone lower down the chain, at least) of his position in the global white supremacist patriarchy vis-a-vis the rest of us plebes? Why refine your worldview with evidence when you can just up the volume and loom over any woman uppity enough to disagree?

    And we had to pray, so thank you times a million for the shout out to the atheists. This time of year is even worse than Christmas in my opinion, because people are more likely to pull the ‘well then who are you thankful TO” gotcha. This year I heard a new one though: “I’m glad that politicians have to be at least nominally religious to be elected, because if there were atheist politicians, then they’d really have no morals!”

    But I am just as guilty, for eating a delicious turkey dinner with a bunch of other honky american assholes when there were without a doubt little brown girl children outside in the cold selling packets of tissues that night. I blame the patriarchy.

  7. Laura

    I am lucky to be living in Canuckistan, and so avoided the huge nonsense of thanksgiving (instead they substitute with a much smaller one right before Halloween), but of course my lifestyle precludes other people (including non-human people) from eating, having clean drinking water, and you know, bodily integrity and dignity.

    But, cries the eternal optimist, is there not some middle road? Or a “slow revolution” where even the most greedy don’t have to be put to death or prison where they are robbed of bodily integrity/dignity? Sigh. I don’t know.

    I certainly am feeling similarly snarky about the upcoming “holiday season” which they barely mask as non-denominational with wreaths and boughs and rar.

  8. yttik

    I have no guilt. I think something got overloaded and I blew a circuit.

    I think growing up female you learn you are expected to have all of the responsibility, to take all of the blame, but you don’t get to have any of the power. I’ve lost track of all the things I’m supposed to be ashamed of, my thighs, the condition of turkeys, hungry people. War, politics, inequality, the dishes. As if I can control any of those things….

    I don’t think we should hog all the guilt. We’re half the human race and yet even in the US, we’ve only got 16% of the seats in congress. We don’t have the wealth, the political power, heck, half the time we don’t even have the power to walk down the street safely.

    If I had my way, nobody would ever be without. But I don’t have my way and that’s the whole problem.

  9. norbizness

    Well, I’ll have you now that I picked all of the giblets out of MY gravy. Take THAT, Pilgrims!

  10. Hope

    All I can say is thank God, if there is a God, for Ativan. It even comes in generic (Lorazepam) so my insurance pays for most of it. Woo hoo!

  11. sonia

    you ALL need to click that link.

    that is some funny shit. creepy. funny.

  12. Kate Dino

    If I didn’t enjoy my Thanksgiving can I get points taken off my sentence?

  13. sonia

    Twisty, you know you canNOT get away, right?

  14. em

    Oh my god I love reading you.

  15. Hattie

    I think guilt gets us exactly nowhere.

  16. thebewilderness

    That song scared the bejeepers out of me when I was a little person.

    Leftover Chinese takeout and bimbleberry pie. Oh, and guilt of course.

  17. Lindsay

    Now that’s just ridiculous. Everyone knows there are no honky’s left in America! Silly, silly, silly…

  18. tinfoile hattie

    I’m with yttik. The old “If you have something or are enjoying something, and another person anywhere is doing without, you are a guilty sinner” was used too much on me by the Catholic Church as I was growing up. Additionally, the official Mother’s Motto is supposed to be along the lines of “If I AM enjoying myself or doing something for myself, then somewhere, someone is doing without,” precluding any mother anywhere from enjoying anything. My feeling guilty about what I have makes as much sense as feeling obligated to eat my vegetables because people are starving.

    I do what I can, and I no longer feel responsible for the plight of the entire human race. That crap has been foisted on women for about the last 5000 years, so no thanks. I try not to be a glutton, and I try not to use more than my share, but since I am an American it’s impossible not to. I give to charity, I donate food, I work to feed the hungry, I do the best I can. Let the other 49% share this burden for once.

  19. slythwolf

    Those of us on food stamps whose Thanksgiving feast fed our family for the entire long weekend don’t call it “guilt” so much as “survival”, and possibly “look I get to eat tasty things for once because they are all on sale”.

  20. Vinaigrette Girl

    Hey, McFailin’ didn’t get elected and Barry is no walk-on-water member of the Undude, but I am still thankful that of the electable choices on offer we dodged a sure and certain napalm blitz in exchange for a walk across a field of landmines, backed up with a good landmine – searching team of blamers. So I’m Thankful for something in 2008.

    But I didn’t have a stuffyerface feast on the nth day of November anyway, and I am profoundly thankful to be free of the whole thing; hate roast turkey, hate pumpkin pie. Two things to be thankful for, then.

    And TBH I live over 5,000 miles away from any of my blood relations, and I miss them. There are jokes I haven’t been able to make or hear for twenty years, and some day, everyone will experience this little death in a greater death; so I reckon people can work out plenty to be thankful for, either because they do or they don’t have that opportunity themselves. So that’s three things.

    And I too was creeped out by ‘The Eyes of Texas’ when I was in the Fort Sam Houston base nursery, where we sang it EVERY DAY, and I used to mutter “Oh, yes I will TOO get away” under my breath, even when I was made to stand in the naughty corner for doing so (“Ha’ kin yew NOT luv Tex-uss?” said our teacher in distress).

    So that’s a fourth thing for which I can be thankful, and a fifth: I don’t have to sing that song ever again AND I did get away.

    And the starving Armenians never did eat my brussels sprouts…

  21. speedbudget

    Why did they steal “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad”? I found that disturbing, too.

    And I did get to get a couple zingers in on the most annoying rabid republican EVAH. Dumb as a box of rocks, and he doesn’t know it. He thinks we are all dumb, especially us little ladies. He actually said that the collapse of the banking system is a result of too much regulation. If I didn’t have his dang kids screaming in my ears all night, making me all kinds of miserable, I would have busted up laughing. As it was, I just pointed out that he was wrong and totally misinformed and wandered out of the dining room.

    I’m thankful that the shit is over.

  22. kate

    I stopped fussing and planning over holiday festivities a few years ago. I had completely given up on Halloween preparations long when the kids were in grade school, taking them out to enjoy the efforts of other schmucks.

    Because see, I’m called a low-life schmuck most all of the rest of the year, so fuck ’em. I don’t buy when there’s a sale because I don’t have the money and often lately, I haven’t had the time or the vehicle to go there. I don’t give a damn if the mall has a fifty-percent off sale, if christmas or thanksgiving or some other damn holiday is only so many days away. I don’t care. I refuse to care.

    I work like a dog all year and usually get run over by bigger dogs in the process, dogs who have white male privilege and/or rich daddies, uncles or whatever. I owe society nothing that I haven’t already given with the sweat of my brow and my back for the last twenty fucking years. I don’t care and frankly, don’t believe that consumerism is the patriotic cure to our soceity’s ills. I am not going christmas shopping, save for maybe sending some cards (because my dad bellyaches if I don’t) and some gift certificates to key relatives with whom I wish to stay in positive graces. Everything has a price. Oh and my kids, that is the obligation I cannot shirk from which actually I enjoy. I will buy something for each of them, but they know not to expect lavish, competitive spending. You want that fancy thinga-ma-jig, use your funds and get it yourself.

    On holidays, I sit in my huge leather chair and lately don reading glasses on my weary eyes, read a little, nap a little and if the kids want to cook some damn thing, my kitchen’s all theirs. I’ll eat it and maybe help clean-up. Other than that, I don’t give it much thought anymore besides remembering how many times I was hungry, really hungry and really homeless during the holidays when I was married to Mr. Wonderful Man.

    I’ve earned that much. Whatever guilt I have is private and a bit complicated.

  23. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    Sorry, but I respectfully decline the invitation to Guilt. As yttik said, I’ve lost track of everything I’m supposed to be ashamed of. The whole process is wearying and not too productive.

    This year I’m grateful I’ve paid off a long-standing loan. Having gone through last holiday season nursing a dog in end-stage kidney failure and having seen to it that all eight of my rescue dog’s litter of puppies got good, caring homes, I’m grateful that all of my four-legged housemates are in good health. And I’m really happy that my job didn’t get shipped down south, a distinct possibility a month ago. And I don’t feel badly about any of it. I’ve been on the other end of the stick my fair share.

  24. Vibrating Liz

    I believe what Twisty is saying here is that whether or not we choose to FEEL guilt is beside the point, because at the end of the day, we in fact ARE guilty. Period.

  25. Jezebella

    Guilt is not shame, and guilt, like privilege, sticks to us in the “first” world like the stink of skunk on a wet dog. You can’t just cancel it from your area.

    My cousin announced after dinner last week that he had a philosophical inquiry, that being, “Can one be thankful FOR something without being thankful TO something/someone?” I told him that this was a grammar question and declined the opportunity to “discuss” religion with a christian libertarian lawyer.

  26. The Hedonistic Pleasureseeker

    My sister and I attended the obligatory family gathering with a virtual pinky-handshake agreement on some prebaked excuse to leave early. We brought wine.

    We left shortly after our MUCH-LOVED-but-GAWD! queer cousin had his obligatory Thanksgiving Queen’s Rage and stomped out. It’s always SOMETHING. Maybe you looked at his dog funny this year. Unfortunately he doesn’t do drag or theater, because if he did at least it would be entertaining. AMATEURS! Tsk.

    When we got home my sister and I drank more wine, called the folks and watched MST3000 movies. We did not feel guilty about it.

  27. Shae

    Looks like you’ve predicted and pre-emptively shut down all possible discourse.

  28. B. Dagger Lee

    I was only following orders?

  29. Twisty

    “I was only following orders?”

    Precisely. Patriarchy degrades the species into a race of murderous drones. A challenging concept, I admit.

  30. thebewilderness

    You can check out any time you like,…

  31. Lar

    That song is fucking creepy.


    The University of Texas Song: Here is the story that I heard ti ‘splain the UT anthem: there was this guy who was going to UT like the first year it opened. He was a wit. Everybody waited on him to be the hilarious, genius guy and he did some clever things verbally of some kind.

    There was also the President of the Iniversity who used to go around, looking at the class of like fifty guys (it was the first year) and saying “MY EYE IS UPON YOU!!!” meaning, you are not going to get away with any hijinks!! Cuz I be watching!!

    And then this Professor dude expanded upon his theme and said “The EYES of TEXAS are upon you !! YOu are the first graduating class of the University of Texas and We have some HIGH EXPECTATIONS of you fellows !! So you had better toe the line with whatever drinking and whoring you think you want to engage in because you are under CONSTANT SCRUTINY!!”

    Meantime, the student body has tapped the Clever student to write the school anthem. He procrastinated and didn’t do it and the MORNING of the DAY the Glee Club was supposed to sing it at a huge event he woke up hungover from his debauchery, and wrote “The Eyes Of Texas” as a deliberate send-up of the University President and the hierarchy of power in general and perhaps just making fun of the grown-ups.

    Clearly, the guy expended VERY LITTLE EFFORT, so little that it was a slap in the face.

    The student body, apparently, found the whole thing hilarious and subversive, and LOVED it, and it has been the song ever since.

    The popularity of the phrase “MY EYE IS UPON YOU!” has waned to the point that no one gets the reference (it was a popular phrase in the 1870’s, especially for educators, and occurs in many “school days” books of the period, including that testament to Patriarchy, “Daddy-Long-Legs” (which also provides proof that the game of basketball was invented for,and originally played by girls. Basketball was invented on purpose to be a game that girls could get safe exercise with, without tipping their uteruses etc.)

    When you know the story of the UT song, it becomes far less creepy. I apologise for not having anyone’s actual NAMES or DATES of anything.

  33. Twisty

    KMTBERRY, thanks for the amusing anecdote; not having attended the U myself, I’d never heard it. I hope it’s true, and not just some modern effort to explain away what has to be the most asinine school song ever.

    I will say this: there are fewer experiences more splendidly frightening than being in a stadium full of burnt-orange sports fans bursting with chemically-induced conviviality, brimming with school spirit, making with the hook’em horns gesture, and belting out that song.

  34. Megan

    I listened to that song for about 15 seconds before compulsively closing the tab. *Marking Texas, completely and finally, off the “cheap-o (and worth it!) places to live” list.* (Though, to be honest, it’s about 70% due to the heat.)

  35. thinker


    Glad you are here. I feel better reading your perspective. You open my eyes all the time.

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