May 20 2009

Outtakes from “Escape from Savage Death Island”

Texas thistle and some bees and some beetles

1. While awaiting phlebotomization yesterday at Cancerland, I thumb through a copy of People magazine. Here is what expert sexologist Bristol Palin has to say on the efficacy of magic fundamentalist christian abstinence-juju sex ed:

“If girls realized the consequences of sex, nobody would be having sex,” says Bristol, sitting at her parents’ lakeside patio table. “Trust me. Nobody.”

2. Here is what my oncologist, Dr Cure, had to say during yesterday’s routine quarterly palpation/ lifestyle /mental health lecture:

“You literally need to have your head examined.”

“Not so fast, lady. Didn’t you just examine it?”

“You are, in fact, clinically crazy.”

Dr Cure is dissatisfied with my cynical worldview. She thinks patriarchy-assimilation therapy will fix me right up. When she revealed the news that it was colonoscopy time, for example, I failed to burst into song or whatever. I suppose Dr Cure celebrates her colonoscopies with a catered affair and a string quartet in a tumor-shaped hot air balloon floating over the Grand Canyon at sunset.

3. While in a fitting room at the mall trying on a pair of shorts, I overhear a conversation between the sales woman and a guy in the next fitting room. The guy is asking the sales woman will his new pants shrink. The sales woman has been waiting all week for the opportunity to impart her laundry knowledge. She looses a torrent of laundry tips on the guy: all shrinkage happens in the dryer. Dryers in this day and age are too hot. Never put clothes in a hot dryer. She even dries her jeans unhotly. The guy interrupts her.

“Oh!” woman answers. “Of course you don’t do your own laundry.”

The guy had wanted to know if the clothes were idiot-wife-proof.


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  1. yttik

    I’m cranky that so many people in the media are ready and willing to mock a 17 yr old girl with a newborn baby for her opinions on social issues and yet nobody seems to be interested in mocking the leader of the free world for failing to sign the Freedom of Choice Act, refusing to act on DADT, opposed to gay marriage, will not rescind the Conscience Clause, and has increased funding for faith based initiatives.

    This is politics and entertainment under the patriarchy. We ridicule and mock beauty contestants and 17 yr old girls because women and girls after all, are the root of all evil. Those 435 people in Congress, our Supreme Court and the Commander in chief, the people actually paid to do something, well give them all a break, they’re very busy. They have other priorities. And what about Tim Kaine, pro-life, anti gay head of the DNC? Anybody posting topless picture of him on the internet? How about ridiculing him for his stance on gay marriage and abstinence only funding?

    I blame the patriarchy.

  2. larkspur

    Hee, doesn’t Dr. Cure know that cynical patriarchy-blamin’ and general orneriness is just as life-affirming (maybe more so) than wearing pink and being cheerful and counting your darn blessings out loud?

    And I’m going to remember that fitting room story. From now on, whenever I buy anything, I’m going to ask how to use it, wash it, wear it, or cook it, while explaining that of course I don’t need to know, I just need to relay the information to my minions.

    Lastly, I really do feel bad for Bristol. She’s really young, her parents have no desire to help protect her privacy, and apparently while making the baby, she didn’t even have fun. That’s sad, but hardly surprising. It’s a poorly kept secret that lots of girls and young women have to figure out sex on their own before it starts being fun. Before they do, lots of girl and women find sex kind of icky, uncomfortable, and lonely.

  3. larkspur

    Also, in unrelated news, I love the Death Island header, but I don’t find it terribly scary because “Island” reminds me of a juicy delicious ripe watermelon.

  4. Betsy

    This information does not fall into the category of “Heartwarming Nature Crap,” in spite of the lovely photo.

  5. MLH

    Twisty, the title of your posting “esape,” you mean “escape,” right? English is my second language, but that looks like a typo to me, no?

  6. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    As medical tests go, the jolly ol’ colonoscopy isn’t as bad as some I can think of. But there are better ways to spend a late-spring/early-summer afternoon than drinking the nitro cocktail and stationing yourself no more than five running steps from the toilet. After a while, a person doesn’t even bother pulling her pants back up and just hangs out in the bathroom with a good book.

  7. B. Dagger Lee

    They can shove all that dry-cleaning, lay clothes flat, no washer, no dryer shit back up their asses.

    What paradise it would be to be a bee, busy in a thistle-flower!

  8. juliebee

    My favorite part of the dressing room story is when the sales woman is going on and on like she’s talking to a regular person, then suddenly realizes she’s actually talking to a Man and is rendered speechless. Such is the case when we presume to communicate in our vulgar vernacular with the minor deities.

  9. caitlinate

    I certainly like to know that my clothes are idiot-wife-proof. I mean, not that I have my own wife but you never know when one is just going spring out from the bushes and try and fuck up your clothes with their non-stop-washing-and-cleaning-and-shrinking. The addiction of wives to washing their husbands clothes: the most insidious of modern day addictions. It’s what they live for, don’t you know.

    Oh, Bristol if only that were true. It’s called rape and it doesn’t really matter what girls think.

  10. Pinko Punko

    I originally read “heart air” balloon, and for some reason it made sense. Even more unicorny or something.

  11. Medbh

    The sales clerk’s response reminded me of the clothing label telling men to give it to their wives to wash. Because it’s her job.


  12. rainie

    Are those honeybees?? Lucky you!
    Last year I did not see one single honeybee here all summer long. Not one. This year I’ve seen two. I saw one hovering above a dandelion while I picked up sticks in the yard. I was getting ready to mow, but decided that I’d leave it for another day since the honeybee was enjoying the dandelion.

  13. CLD

    I second yttik’s rant. I too blame the Patriarchy.

  14. Jezebella

    Somebody needs to destroy all evidence of these interviews with young Ms. Palin before her child is old enough to read. The last thing any kid needs is to hear all about how hi mother regretted having him, you know?

  15. Squiggy

    All courage summoned, I underwent my first colonoscopy in December. They said they would give me drugs that would make me not care but wouldn’t administer general anesthetic. I expected the worst. Eureka! The second they hooked my IV stump up to, what turned out to be morphine and fentanyl, I was in the most beautiful land of deep unconsciousness and loveliness of, perhaps my whole life. I don’t drink or do recreational drugs because I get migraines. IBTP that I am ever vigilant even in my deepest sleep, because there always seems to be some wildfire or another for me to put out. But this marvelous cocktail in my stone-sober veins gave me a few blessed hours of respite from non-stop taxing effort. Respite that turned into Nirvana. I continued to feel delicious for the rest of that day. No doubt, I would submit to that hook-up weekly if I had the chance. Ideally I’d opt for drugs sans the deep probe.

  16. buttercup

    If only Mrs. Fitting-Room-Guy had been idiot-husband proof. IBTP.

  17. AngryYoungFemme

    I kinda think if you’re mom was 17 when she had you, in this day and age, chances are you weren’t planned. However, just because a child isn’t planned doesn’t automatically mean that that child is less-than for it or that hir folks love that child any less. Regardless of how you were conceived, you’re alive, aren’t you?

    I DO think it provides a platform for comprehensive sex education and (potentially) opens that dialogue between the young parent and their unplanned child from the word go. Learn from your folks’ mistakes and whatnot. Sure, it sucks to find out that your mom was all over the media talking about how you weren’t planned way back when, but in the end it’s up to Bristol and how she handles contextualizing the hubbub before the kid googles it for the first time ever at age 7.

    I actually feel worse for Bristol than her bay-beh.

  18. Nolabelfits

    I’m glad Bristol had the sense to break up with whats-his-name. That was a very sensible move, in my opinion.

  19. balabusta

    Your oncologist clearly didn’t do so well with the psychiatric rounds. I woulda quelled that one with, “I don’t let my psychiatrist give me chemo, so lay off the mental health diagnoses.”

  20. BadKitty

    Twisty, Twisty, Twisty (shaking head sadly). You should know by now that women are supposed to be perky and cheerful about our cancer and the resulting endless checkups and trips to all of the various clinics for tests and injections and body violations. After all, cancer is the best thing that has ever happened to us. It makes us fulfilled and grateful. It makes us crazy sexy, remember? Now go put on all your pink clothing and hats and accessories, grab your pink M&M’s and SMILE! Atta girl.

  21. Pantsuit Sally

    Oh, Twisty! You just need to treat yourself to something special, like some killer heels and a new tube of lipstick, and then you’ll feel much better!

    ::files away balabusta’s retort for future use::

  22. Rebecca

    You are a bastion of awesome in a sea of despair. Seriously. Thank you for existing.

  23. figleaf

    I don’t exactly celebrate my colonoscopies with hot-air balloon rides but I’m awfully glad to get them. 15 years ago now I got my first one almost on a whim. It’s not supposed to be inheritable but my grandfather had it — I was going off insurance then and figured why not? Turns out they found and removed polyps that… take an average of 15 years to become cancerous.

    Consequently I’m alive and healthy today to do, fold, and put away laundry in the household.

    That colon cancer is a) the most preventable form of cancer but also b) the number three killer can be blamed almost entirely on the Patriarchy and it’s bizarre fetishes/anti-fetishes about using our behinds as symbols of dominance, discipline, and homophobia.


  24. PhysioProf

    It looks like there are both bees and beetles in that flower at the same time. That is so fucking coolio! And the pollen comb thingies on the bee legs are even coolioer.

  25. humanbein

    I like that Bristol Palin quote. What kind of quality sex life has a poor tool of the patriarchy got to look forward to, anyway? Outside of the horror of being forced to bear a child at her age, a state somewhat lower than slavery in many ways, what great glorious sex life has she got to look forward to anyway? Some wife-beating thug up in her business any time he demands it. A life of simulated rape to appease the dominance fetish of her bad boy husband.

    I know a lot of us love sex, but when I think of the kind of sex life most women like her are condemned to, I wonder if I should try to distinguish between my wishes of what sex could be if there were no patriarchy and the grim reality of sex that girls like her are condemned to in this sex-classist world.

    If all of these fundamentalist christian women were keeping their legs closed successfully it would at least lessen the sexual burden of being a woman in their ultra-misogynist world. Not that it would ever be allowed to happen.

  26. Ron Sullivan

    Seems to me that if the theoretical Idiot Wife (Let’s cast Ms Palin in that part, knowing it’s just a role to play.) were to wash and dry those trousers on the Ultra-Hot Industrial-Strength Decontamination setting with Mr Manly Pants still in them, two problems could be solved at once. A tiny hopeful voice inside me says maybe she’s working up to that.

    Or maybe it’s just gas.

    What balabusta said. Phew, talk about yer malpractice.

  27. Apostate

    I know a lot of us love sex, but when I think of the kind of sex life most women like her are condemned to

    Humanbein, I don’t know what you are basing your assumptions on. What do you mean by “women like her”? Last I checked, Bristol Palin belongs to a privileged white middle class / upper middle class family. There is no reason to believe women in that subset don’t have good sex lives. They’re hardly the Amish or FLDS.

  28. Tupe

    “If all of these fundamentalist christian women were keeping their legs closed successfully it would at least lessen the sexual burden of being a woman in their ultra-misogynist world.”

    Humanbein, are you really blaming these women for the misogynist sex/rape they are enduring? And are you really suggesting that if they just closed their legs more “successfully” women such as yourself would be better off, too? My deepest apologies if you only meant that *they* would be better off if the damn slut-women “like them” could keep teh menz paws off.

    Funny, I thought this was blame the Patriarchy. Not divide and conquer and blame the opppressed classes. Also, I second the Apostate’s point. Bristol Palin may have had a lot of Patriarchy shoved up her ass by her Christian parents but that doesn’t exactly remove the silver spoon from her mouth.

  29. yttik

    I think I understand and agree with Humanbein’s point.

    “There is no reason to believe women in that subset don’t have good sex lives.”

    Oh come on people, you don’t believe that dutiful Christian wives have partners who primary focus is how much enjoyment she is getting out of the experience, do you? Come to think of it, how many 17 yr old girls of any background are having sex simply because they enjoy it? I’d say it’s rare. I’m not sure it’s even possible for a 17 yr old girl to grow up in this culture, own her sexuality and make a genuine choice about the matter.

    As to being born with a silver spoon in your mouth, that’s never provided women any protection from the rape culture, incest, domestic violence. It’s not poverty that causes any of those things, it’s misogyny and patriarchy.

  30. mir

    Maybe Dr. Cure was looking for a simple ‘thank you’. Like cops when they give you a ticket, you know? I was 30 before I finally stopped saying it when I was handed a citation.

    I didn’t read the whole article (I’m constitutionally unable to read magazines, they make my stomach hurt) but I like the prickly tone of that Bristol quote. Good for her. I hope she gets harder and tougher and really, really pissed off at how we all chewed her & her business right up.

  31. mir

    And holy crap, I third the why the fucking fuck would “if these women were keeping their legs closed successfully” even OCCUR to someone reading a rad fem blog? Because that’s straight up grade-A patriarchal dogshit.

  32. Lurker

    Have the colonscopy, Twisty. It could save your life.

    And write a book. Please.

  33. Lauren O

    If girls realized the consequences of sex, nobody would be having sex….Nobody.

    If girls were adequately educated about safe sex and not judged as sluts for exercising their sexuality and didn’t have to worry about rape, everybody would be having sex. (Virtually) everybody.

    Also, my father has repeatedly told me and many others how my mom doesn’t do his laundry and it’s such a burden for him. I think I was literally the only one who didn’t give him any sympathy; even my mom’s own dad thought she was being ridiculous and unfair. (This goes a long way toward explaining why my parents are currently divorcing.)

  34. Dr. Righteous

    I’m just sorry that now that’s what she thinks sex is all about–consequences.

    And “island” really does look like watermelon.

  35. Lindsay


    And holy crap, I third the why the fucking fuck would “if these women were keeping their legs closed successfully” even OCCUR to someone reading a rad fem blog? Because that’s straight up grade-A patriarchal dogshit.


    And Humanbein, while it wouldn’t by a long shot remove *ALL* the problems with your comment, I think much would be improved if you had written this:

    I know a lot of us love sex, but when I think of the kind of sex life most women like her are condemned to …

    (The rest of what’s wrong with comment is harder to fix with simple editing; it’s hovering in the form the comment takes. This form is that of an observation followed by a prescription: ______ is bad for women, therefore women should ______. Men can just sit back and relax, because this doesn’t concern them, apparently).

    Twisty, did your doctor infer anything about your mental state from your refusal to have reconstructive surgery?

  36. Twisty

    Eventually, the dude commenters always hang themselves.

  37. larkspur

    “Eventually, the dude commenters always hang themselves.”

    But they don’t mean to. Somebody always has to go wash and dry a perfectly good length of rope and the damn thing shrinks, and that’s a hell of a note when all of a damn sudden your feet don’t reach the ground any more.

    Also? The colonoscopy is the easy part. It’s just blue skies and euphoria. But only after the hellish prep is done. Also too? In the recovery room, the nice RN can tell you over and over to go ahead and expel the belly-air from your butt, because it’s not rude, it’s just nice clean air, but OMG, you can’t always, and there you are with a basketball sized gas bubble in your belly that only eases after a very long 24 to 48 hours. It makes you wish your belly button was a release valve. You might fly around the room for a few minutes, but then you’d be happily, blessedly deflated.

  38. humanbein

    Crap. I agree with all the criticisms of my post. Poorly worded, blaming the victim, ugh. Not what I meant at all, of course, but there it is.

    In an ultra-sexy, pornified world, hearing a woman want to get off the rape and pregnancy merry go round sounded refreshing.

    Please, never confuse me with someone who thinks he is perfect. I’m as human as anyone else.

  39. PhoenixRising

    I’m not sure it’s even possible for a 17 yr old girl to grow up in this culture, own her sexuality and make a genuine choice about the matter.

    Well, it’s technically possible and from what I can recall at this distance I seem to have been enjoying it…but then, my mom taught me to make self-centered, healthy choices about when, where and with whom I might wish to have sex.

    If instead she had been an abstinence-preaching politician who modeled for her daughters that her direct instructions to obey male demands were not just her opinion but the very Laws of Nature, I might feel the same way poor Bristol does.

  40. truffula

    Anybody else start to read that article, discover that the Palin family plays “Eskimo bingo” and give up? I had to look it up, the game is also called “Rob Your Neighbor.”

    Here in New Zealand recently, the national consensus was to tell a Canadian native to shut up and go home if she doesn’t like Eskimo lollies. It’s a matter of cultural heritage and national identity it seems, and anyway there aren’t any Eskimo people in NZ so it’s okay, we’re not insulting anybody we know! Or something.

  41. nails

    Doctors suck, and non psychiatric doctors act capable of making a diagnosis of mental illness all the time. Heart palpitations? It is really actually anxiety, here take some xanax. Insomnia? You’re depressed! Just take some prozac. It seems to happen more to women that I know than men.

  42. yttik

    “Eskimo” is a complicated term. In Canada it’s considered offensive, but not so in Alaska. Many Alaskan natives prefer to be called Eskimo rather then the Inuit that Canadians often use, because in Alaska you also have the Yupik, Inupiat, etc. It’s kind of like Canada took a group of arctic people and decided they were all Inuit and that didn’t go over well in Alaska.

  43. sonia

    mental health diagnosing is seriously the last resort for the aforementioned assimilation. if patriarchy can’t scare a woman out of her own opinions, she’s crazy.

    wow, as if anyone needs to deal with that on top of oncological hell.


  44. TheBellWitch

    If Bristol Palin teaches us nothing else, it’s that even if you do make the patriarchy-approved Choice and have that punishment-for-sex baby, we still reserve the right to mock you, ask intrusive questions about your sex life, and pass judgment in the form of “concern” on national television.

    Because women can be archetypes, symbols, or cautionary tales, but god forbid we’re allowed to just be people with complicated emotions and lives to steer around as we see fit.

    Maybe I should focus on the heartwarming nature crap; this media thing with the Palins has getting my dander up more and more lately. I think it had something to do with watching Larry King lean across his desk and ask Levi where he and Bristol had sex. The undercurrent of voyeuristic skeeviness is just too much. You’re talking about two (at the time) under-aged teenagers! Have some fucking self-restraint.

  45. speedbudget

    rainie: The reason you don’t see honeybees is they no longer are able to survive very long in the wild. There are many parasites and illnesses that affect the hive that require careful intervention from the apiarist in order for the hive to survive. There might be a swarm from an existing hive that finds a place and lives for a year or two on their own, but not much longer than that.

    I advocate beekeeping as a lovely hobby. Once you get established, it’s not very expensive or time consuming (you really only need to get in the hive a few times a year) and you have all this wonderful honey that you can eat and give to friends and sell at your local co-op. Plus, without local bees, most people’s garden fruits and vegetables would struggle to proliferate. Bees are the best pollinators out there. There are beekeepers in virtually every corner of the US and Canada, and they are all more than willing to help out and impart knowledge.

    You can tell the particular bees on what I think is a chive flower have pupae in the hive. Bees feed pollen to the pupae, and they only collect the pollen when they are feeding them.

    And as to the “keep your legs closed and men will learn” silly idea, meh. First of all, it took me thirty years to get the gumption and feminist background to finally decide I’m not going to put up with crap sex.

    Secondly, do you really think a woman in a fundamentalist milieu won’t end up being raped anyway? You know, since sex is a man’s right and all.

    Thirdly, why can’t men learn to take an interest in pleasing women? My friends act like I’m such a bitch because instead of having mediocre sex and spending the whole time explaining to some knob the grand intricacies (sarcasm) of pleasing a female, I choose to not have sex. Like it’s my fucking job to explain to some d00d yer doin’ it rong. Like, duh. When I kick your ass out, I think it becomes fairly obvious. If you can’t take it upon yourself to take an interest, I have no time for you here on Savage Death Island.

  46. MLH

    “I think it had something to do with watching Larry King lean across his desk and ask Levi where he and Bristol had sex.”


  47. humanbein

    It’s hard not confuse oppressive porn-based sex that is degrading to women with ideal sex that takes place when two people feel the heat from each other and respond to it from the relaxed and liberating place that mutual respect affords. Most of us have had it both ways, and everywhere in between, too.

    But when we discuss it, I suffer from the lack of a verbal toolset that helps me to say what I really feel. And I resort to the words that encode female oppression, which is most language by default. IBTP. And I blame my own programming by our culture.

  48. Deanna


    In Canada, Inuit is the group term in use – analogous to using First Nations or aboriginal or white people are terms for larger groups. Eskimo is considered offensive because it is a derogatory term that the enemies of the Inuit placed on them. Some (Canadian) Inuit people accept “Eskimo”, just like some First Nations people accept being called “Indian” even though that is also a name given by outsiders.

    Just like First Nations, Europeans, and other peoples, Inuit peoples also have kinship and tribal identities, such as Yupik and Inupiat.

    Unlike Alaska, the Canadian territories are majority aboriginal peoples. Nunavut has a territorial government made up entirely of Inuit and other native peoples. The Nuktitut and Inuinnaqtun languages are offically protected by the legislature – government services must be offered in those languages (as well as English (and French for federal services)). The legislature has a goal of making Inuktitut the working language of the government by 2020.

    We shouldn’t simply accept the label of “Eskimo” as okay just because the native peoples of Alaska have been forced to accept the labels forced upon them by their oppressors and they need to get along as best they can. Gee, that would be like accepting The P’s framing of women’s place and appropriate behaviour.

  49. Narya

    Delightful though the narcotics are at the time (of a colonoscopy or a UAE, for example), they make me puke. But it is a mighty fine buzz.

  50. undercover punk

    When I was really, really depressed by the media’s coverage of Rihanna/Chris Brown & it kept slapping me in the face every time I turned around, my psychiatrist decided that I was having obsessive thoughts along the lines of OCD and tried to double my medication!! HE said to me: they are just celebrities, why are you letting it bother you so much?? HA!!!!

    Luckily, my therapist is a fellow feminist. She didn’t view my concerns as mental extremism/disordered thinking. She sees how society treats women. If she didn’t, we wouldn’t have anything to talk about!

    Seriously, though, how am I supposed to be a happy, FUNCTIONAL person in such a fucked-up, DYSfunctional world? HOW, I ask, HOW??!

  51. Kuleana

    Your oncologist clearly didn’t do so well with the psychiatric rounds. I woulda quelled that one with, “I don’t let my psychiatrist give me chemo, so lay off the mental health diagnoses.”

    Yeah, no shit. An oncologist dispensing mental health advice makes about as much sense as the time my rheumatalogist tried to get me to take Accutane for my acne. At first she couldn’t remember its name, but just said it was a “really great new cure” for acne. This was about eight months ago. Accutane was approved by the FDA for use on acne in 1982.

    Seriously, though, how am I supposed to be a happy, FUNCTIONAL person in such a fucked-up, DYSfunctional world? HOW, I ask, HOW??!

    Sister, I wish I knew; my sanity is on a thread these days. If one of us finds the answer we’ll spread the word.

  52. Susan

    I fuckin’ love that picture.

  53. Joolya

    Ugh – my cousin was having heart palpitations, lost a lot of weight, and one of her eyes started bulging out. She went to the health service and something like two NPs and an intern told her she was having “anxiety attacks” and sent her home with a bottle of happy pills. When she said there was a history of thyroid disease in her family, she was told it couldn’t possibly be hyperactive thyroid, because she only had 4/7 symptoms … she was just stressed out about school, and no need to get a referral to an endocrinologist. Maybe she should go see a shrink.
    Guess what the diagnosis turned out to be. Three guesses.

  54. Frumious B.

    3. She’s wrong, dude. I have personally shrank things in the washer using water that was lukewarm at best. IBTP.

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