Dec 17 2010

Of knees and blood diamonds

No post today; the spinster knee must spend some time burning in the icy purgatorial fires of an MRI tube, the nearest one of which with an available appointment is all the way the heck in midtown Austin (midtown Austin is spitting distance from Cottonmouth County, but only if the spitter is 55 miles tall). Thus is today a Day of Travel and Knee Agony, rather than of Blogging and Lobe Agony.

But I cannot put off a moment longer the heartfelt expression of my aversion to the 10 minutes of jewelry store TV commercials that seem to bookend each 5-minute segment of all my favorite shows.

By “favorite shows” I mean the gruesome displays of megatheocorporatocracy-affirming propaganda at which I am compelled to stare, slack-jawed in mesmerized horror, while the aforementioned knee takes a load off on a pile of comfy pillows. For the last couple of days the incredulous spinster eyes could not be pried from reruns of a British show called “Top Gear.” “Top Gear” features 3 jokey middle-aged automobile-worshiping dude-brat bros chasing around gorgeous European countryside in Porsches and Bugatti Veyrons. The captivating thing about “Top Gear” is the astonishing degree to which the world — a man’s world — is these dudes’ oyster. “Hey, let’s have a minivan race from Rome to Minsk!” And off they go. Not an iota of estrogen for miles. The equation: smart-alecky English dudes with arrested development + cars (- women) = total freedom.

But I digress.

The jewelry store commercials advertise diamond jewelry for women. The jewelry chains are different but their ads share two common threads. The first common thread is that the jewelry is cloying and butt-ugly. Seriously. Why would anyone voluntarily suspend this monstrosity from a chain around her personal neck?

The second common thread is the image of the under-35-year-old woman overwhelmed with joy and surprise. She is overwhelmed because, against all odds, she is the recipient of diamonds! Everything about her body language says “I am so grateful that you, the dude who porks me, has decided that I am worth diamonds. I am your slave eternally.” My favorite (and by “favorite” I mean “least favorite”) example portrays one particularly verklempt girl opening her little velvet box with disbelieving hands and whimpering over and over, as though in some sort of fit, “Oh my gosh. Oh my gosh.”

Yes, the big moment has finally arrived, the moment she was trained for and has awaited since the cradle: some dude has chucked a rock at her. According to the Global Accords Governing Fair Use of Women, she is now putty in his hands. Once she puts the diamond on she will never take it off, signaling to the world that she is a dude’s highly valued property. Men are traditionally expected to spend 3 months salary on it.

She does not, however, ask to see the diamond’s certificate of origin, because it means little or nothing in her young life if the symbol of her enslavement to the culture of domination was ever used to fund death squads in Sierra Leone.

The equation: woman + butt-ugly diamond jewelry from a chain store = megatheocorporatocratic dream fulfilled.

“Oh my gosh” photo from YouTube.

Ugly-ass pendant photo from Kay Jewelers website.


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  1. Monkey

    That pendant: how does anybody on this earth look at that thing and not see boobs and ass? Which, you know: appropriate. “Here is a blood-diamondy representation of the things I value about you, sweetheart!”

  2. Catherine

    The best (worst) one I’ve seen is where the woman is rocking a newborn baby in the middle of the night and the dude shows up and gives her a sparkly watch “because he just couldn’t wait until morning.”

    When all that woman really wants is for the dude to hold the baby so she can go back to bed.

  3. kynthos

    There’s one that’s been around for a few seasons where the woman and man are in a cabin in the woods and there’s a huge thunderstorm….the woman is gazing pensively out the window and jumps at a burst of thunder at which point the man protectively wraps his arms around her and in a cartoonishly saccharine protective voice says “I’m right here….and I always will be.” Naturally the diamond jewelry is the symbol of how her big strong man will protect the helpless little lady from the WEATHER.
    I think that one is the worst. but Catherine I’m right with you on the baby one too, I was yelling something to that effect at the tv the last time I saw it!

  4. The Nerd

    The sales jive for that ugly thing must go something like this: “Show your indentured wife exactly how much she means to you by gifting her with this symbolic representation of a woman’s essential parts, both upper curves and lower curves!”

  5. sargassosea

    Mang, I love/hate Top Gear! If you look up “male privilege” in the dictionary you’ll find a picture of these three jokers. BBC should have a show whith three women doing the same thing; dibs on the Tesla!

  6. Killerchick

    Stewart Lee (passably funny left-wing British comedian) does some fairly amusing stand-up about the ghastly enprivilegedness of the Top Gear boys:


  7. Jezebella

    Thank you, thank you, thank you: these commercials have been making me gag for weeks now. So glad I am not alone in loathing them. And, Kynthos: HELL. YES. I HATE that one. Poor widdle lady, afraid of the thunder! Big strong MAN will protect her! Feh. Gross.

  8. HazelStone

    Or, you know, the roof and walls she owns half of and is clearly underneath at the moment.

  9. figleaf

    “the moment she was trained for and has awaited since the cradle: some dude has chucked a rock at her.”

    Nice one, Jill!

    That could be the meme that breaks the spell: “you’re a grown woman and you still think it means boys like you when they throw rocks at you?” “you’re a grown man and you still think you can throw rocks at girls to let them know you like them?”



  10. dillene

    @kynthos- yeah, I’ve seen that one. They really should have ended the commercial with the husband challenging a cumulo nimbus cloud to a duel.

    Anyway, the diamond pendant looks kind of like a sea serpent if you squint at it.

  11. liberality

    I laughed at the rock throwing joke. So true!

    You remind me of why I am so glad I don’t watch television anymore. You need to get someone to pick up some books from the library for you. :)

    Hope the knee gets better pronto.

  12. yttik

    That woman who says oh my gosh, oh my gosh, makes me wonder if she’s about to say, “I can’t believe you spent the flippin rent money on a crappy piece of jewelry!” That look on women’s faces, that cross between laughter and tears, is more likely to appear when confronted by some beloved’s inability to manage money and the realization that you are now expected to be financially dependent on this person.

    It’s the truth, I’ve seen that Zales look on women’s faces when they realize their new boyfriend just spent the money for biology books on new guitar strings.

  13. nails

    My first reaction to the necklace was “wow, that looks like butts”. Like two cartoon butts glued to each other. Monkey butts, perhaps???

  14. Lizrd

    I hate these commercials. It all reads very “Women can be manipulated with diamonds. Let us show you how!” Gross.

  15. Kali

    Actually, that pendant is called “open hearts” designed by Jane Seymour of the Dr. Quinn fame. But I agree about the suckiness of giving women jewelry in lieu of true love, respect and equality.

  16. Kali

    This reminds me of a friend who dumped a guy because he gave her jewelry as a birthday present. She had some radical marxist inclinations and this guy couldn’t figure out after going out with her for almost a year that giving her jewelry may not be such a good idea.

  17. RK

    It is my dream to someday go chasing around gorgeous European countryside in a Bugatti Veyron, if I cannot get my hands on a McLaren F1.
    How is that a bad thing?

  18. Schnee

    OHMYGOD, just the very mention of Jeremy Clarkson,(Top Gear)woman-hater extraordinaire, makes my blood boil out of my body. The man is planet-killing excrement. The best thing that ever happened was when environmentalists dressed as suffragettes, dumped horse manure at his home.

    Oh, and the bloody stupid jewellery in return for sexual favours crap burns too.

  19. Schnee

    Thank-you Killerchick for the Stewart Lee clip. Brought my blood back down to merely ‘simmer’.

  20. Kea

    I have to confess that when I lost that conditioned body language myself, 15 to 20 years ago, I was rather surprised at the marked drop in interest from men. It was not a slow decline, but rather a sharp fall off from medium to zippo. So what I want to know is: are there ANY men out there capable of wanting more than a slave? I did have one long relationship just a few years ago, but I put a stop to it once I found out the guy just wanted me to make babies for him.

  21. Zuzu

    CZs, until we are free, at last, of whatever diamonds, gold, etc., (let’s just destroy the earth kinda stuff) symbolism. All diamonds are “blood diamonds” gorilla blood, chimp blood, plant blood, lizard blood. Mining destroys it all. They are getting really desperate — even men know what a crock of shit it is — so the diamond people show how starkly “awed” young women are by some piece of shit on a chain or in a little Chinese-made box. Really, really desperate.

  22. AlienNumber

    And now the men who think the financial crisis was a huge fiasco are calling for a return to the gold and silver (and presumably diamonds) standard. On the bright side, women tend to now own most of the stuff, in their jewelry boxes. Thank you, patriarchy and your vomit-inducing advertising.

  23. Daisy Deadhead

    The guy who appears at the window with all kinds of attitude and dangles the necklace at his significant other, is the one that gets me. Yeeeuch.

    Check this out, bitch, is what the caption should read. Real romantic, indeed.

  24. Zuzu

    Oh, Daisy, I’m with you — that guy is really creepy. Who knows how to do that with a chain unless, they like practice, uh, alone? Also, what about the expression on the face of the woman at the table? Sometimes she looks like she is going to pull a knife on that guy giving her a box. Thanks, Twisty!

  25. ElizaN

    A few weeks ago, after seeing the thunderstorm ad for the first time, I went to Kay’s website and found their “contact us” form. I picked the “having problems with our website” form and said that I was having difficulty finding an apology for the misogynistic tripe they’re spewing over the airwaves. To my never-ending disappointment, they never sent me a personalized note.

  26. tinfoil hattie

    All of TV is Privileged Dude TV. Ghost Hunters, Top Gear, Biker Build-off, Ice Road Truckers, Deadliest Catch, American Pickers, Pawnstars, Billy the Exterminator … ads for all these shows make me wonder if women even exist.

    Then I turn to the Bridezilla/Housewives/cooking channels, and I remember.

  27. Jill

    “I was having difficulty finding an apology for the misogynistic tripe they’re spewing over the airwaves”


  28. Frumious B

    It goes without saying on this blog, but I’m gonna say it anyway in case there are newbies reading, that Jill wrote this fabulous blaming article reminding us of the link between femininity and domination on a global scale on a blood computer, and we are all reading it on a blood computer. Our current world runs on blood.

  29. Xandy

    I feel like engagement rings are particularly loathsome in the realm of men giving jewelry to women. Not only is it saying “look at how much money I’m willing to spend on you”, but also “I’m only doing it because you become contractually beholden to me soon. By the way, you’re responsible for the party.”

  30. Sarah

    She also does not ask to see the certificate of origin because she does not want to offend Her New Overlord’s sensitive nature – how dare she question his intentions by questioning the origin (or even the Actual Diamond-ness) of her shiny new symbols of oppression? His little man-feelers would most certainly be hurt by her inquisitiveness. Any normal woman would be so overwhelmed with swoonery that any rational thoughts (“Wait, do I even like this dude?”) would surely be pushed right out of her pretty little head.

  31. Catherine Martell

    It particularly annoys me that the diamond engagement ring slogan was once “A month’s salary that lasts forever”, and then it was “Two months”, and now it’s “Three”.

    The exchange rate of diamonds to poontang is, I concede, not really the point; the existence of a diamonds-to-poontang exchange market is. Still, the monopolistic and African-child-mutilating diamond industry’s ever-increasing greed is pretty disgusting.

    Their silly rocks aren’t worth f-all, anyway. The price is only preserved by the fact that the De Beers monopoly fixes it. A diamond loses around 2/3 to 3/4 of its “value” the minute you take it out of the shop. Nonetheless, it is sold to men not only as a lifetime guarantee of feminine devotion, but as a sensible, solid, grown-up investment. And it is sold to women as the ultimate symbol of patriarchal approval. If you like it, then you should have put a ring on it. Meanwhile, Angola is covered in landmines and kids get their limbs blown off so tasteless westerners can wear necklaces that look like monkey butts.

    Every aspect of the existence of diamond engagement rings as a “tradition” (largely invented by De Beers’ marketing department in the early 20th century, by the way) makes me puke.

  32. Jill

    “Jill wrote this […] article reminding us of the link between femininity and domination on a global scale on a blood computer, and we are all reading it on a blood computer. Our current world runs on blood.”

    And I thought I was being a Debbie Downer.

  33. redpeachmoon

    “Angola is covered in landmines and kids get their limbs blown off so tasteless westerners can wear necklaces that look like monkey butts.”

    Brilliant! I’m watching my ‘favorite’ network right now: Bravo, and the jewelry, perfume ads, romantic sex-farcical blockbusters, and houswives clips are a little less disturbing knowing I’m not alone wondering what happened to our culture.

  34. speedbudget

    I would love to see the ad where the woman puts her hands on her hips and says incredulously, “You bought THAT piece of shit? Didn’t even have the cojones to have the jeweler design something that is exclusively for and about me/us? Did you at LEAST check to make sure the diamonds were responsibly mined? No? Just what the fuck goes on in that head of yours? Look, take that piece of crap back and use the money to put towards the Prius I’ve always wanted. Oh? You won’t get as much when you return it because of depreciation? Whose fault is THAT, you asshat?”

  35. sonia

    thanks, Jill- these have been making me sick for weeks, as well. they never fail to produce a snort at the pathetic looks of “you actually LIKE me!!” written all over the women’s faces.


  36. Jodie

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who thinks that thing looks like butts.

  37. ma'am

    “If you like it, then you should have put a ring on it.” What is meant by “it”? My vagina? Me? This is one of the most disgusting expressions.

  38. chicago dyke

    i can’t understand why so many Blamers watch so much TV. if you want something to do with your free time, email me. i’ve got a big library and i love to share books. i can understand the need for glowing box time, but that’s what netflix is for, and it’s damn sight cheaper than paying megatheocorporations 60-150$/mo, for advertising. which they then turn around and use to make more shows like “mutilate the bride.”

    the funny thing about diamonds: the lab grown ones are indistinguishable from the “real” ones, test after test has shown. scientifically, they are the same carbon molecules-in-a-particularly-shiny-state objects as the ones that are dug up by enslaved children in africa, etc. so technically, if a “progressive” woman really wants her “progressive” patriarch to show her how much his salary values her, she should ask for one of those. and they are light years cheaper! so she can be shown her worth on just the cost of a couple of lunches and an oil change, instead of the two or three month salary measure. maybe he’ll buy her a coat and umbrella to shelter her from those hideous, woman-destroying rainstorms with the money he saves.

    re: blood computers- i don’t deny the blood on my hands. but i work via my computer, and there are literally no other options even if i should want to buy a blood-free one. the minerals and metals used in computers all come from places with similar conditions and slavery as in which blood diamonds are produced. i accept that, and my responsibility for that. but i can’t live without a functioning computer, in this economy where i live, and i can’t afford to move. i have never bought a real diamond and never will.

    there is a degree of purism i find annoying, as a poor woman. maybe some rich person out there can afford the types of computers i read about in sci-fi books, run on falling water and made out of naturally grown organic materials. but i don’t think that exists yet, and if it did, i wouldn’t be able to afford it. i could starve and die and have absolutely no impact on the conditions of african child slave laborers, but i doubt that would make the purity-gotcha artists out there happy.

  39. Barbara Rubin


    You have it all wrong here. Women should accept the diamonds happily. They’re called ‘portable wealth’ and can fund an escape from a patriarchal nightmare (which may or may not have anything to do with hubby).

  40. CrazyQuilter

    you know, i didn’t see butts or boobs when i saw that horrid pendant.
    i saw a huge safety hazard likely to snag on anything and everything, at any given chance, if it’s any bigger than a nickel. (and i’m betting that, since it’s supposed to be a token of undying tastelessness and some Hallmark version of Twu Wuv, it’s huge and gaudy and big enough to land a tuna with.)
    but hey, who cares about not being strangled, cut, or otherwise by one’s own jewelry? it’s SOOO SPARKLY!!!

  41. yttik

    “..it’s huge and gaudy and big enough to land a tuna with..”

    Ha! I’m glad I’m not the only one who considered fishing with the thing.

  42. minervaK

    Obviously you didn’t see the ad with Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman ‘designing’ that retina-searing fragment of hideousness, which is, without question, the most gag-inducing of these ads — it is in fact so awful that I can’t even make fun of it properly.

  43. CrazyQuilter

    yttik–well, given that men go “fishing” and try to land women with tacky crap like that, i feel it’s an apt comparison.

    diamonds–and most of the reasons people give them to other people–are incredibly depressing to me.

  44. mearl

    “‘If you like it, then you should have put a ring on it.” What is meant by “it’? My vagina? Me? This is one of the most disgusting expressions.”

    ma’am, I am stoked that you, too, have noticed a trend in songs by Beyonce in which she continually refers to this mysterious “it.” “Check Up On It” was the other one that came to mind. I used to spend inordinate amounts of time wondering what “that” was in Meatloaf and Backstreet Boys songs (Meatloaf will do anything for love but he won’t do “that,” and the Backstreet Boys want it “that” way). Now I’m confused by this “it” business. I’m scared. I’m freaking out, actually. I NEED A BIG STRONG MAN TO HOLD ME AND SAVE ME!

    And then give me a frickin ugly necklace that really does look like two butts.

  45. ew_nc

    Men buy jewelry for women to make themselves look good. “See what a big rock I can afford to buy my woman? Why the carat count alone makes my penis grow exponentially! I am a big man because I’m successful enough to afford it”, blah, blah

    I’m particularly sensitive to this right now, because my Nigel bought “me” a new computer as a present. This in spite of my saying over the last several months that I didn’t need a new computer every time he told me that mine was too old. Three guesses who has been using it the most in the last few days.

    Oh, and all those Kay/Zales jewelry designs are butt-ugly. Shouldn’t body adornment at least have some aesthetic appeal?

  46. Lurker Lyn

    Top gear makes me feel a bit sick. The casual jokes about murdered sex workers, denial of the harm of pollution and climate change, and the petition it inspired registered on the official UK government website to call for Clarkson to be made Prime Minister (over 30,000 signatures last time I checked) are so many kinds of wrong. And stupid.

    The presenters also produce individual programmes/tabloid articles asserting their weird brand of middle-class, middle-age, middle-England masculinity, the most recent of which I believe was James May’s Man Lab.

  47. Katherine

    Obviously I haven’t watched enough Top Gear to see enough of the misogyny etc in it (thankfully). Great comments this time round.

  48. Aileen Wuornos

    Top Gear is not only misogynist, it’s classist as hell too. The only thing worse than the original, is the Australian adaptation.

  1. A diamond is forever? « Out and Back

    […] like Sierra Leone, Angola, or Liberia. For more color commentary on these subjects, check out this post on one of my favorite blogs, I Blame The Patriarchy. And this one, too, while you’re at […]

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