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Jun 21 2011

Feminist blog saves lives

Reader testimonials!

I.

Just last week I successfully identified a cluster of stinkhorn mushrooms. All because I read this here blog. I took pictures! I told my friends! Life is better with Heartwarming Nature Crap! — cootie twoshoes

Send the pictures, La Cootie, send the pictures. Stinkhorns are, as the poet said, teh awesome. Obviously, if you hadn’t read here that they are also poisonous, you would have eaten them, right? Another life saved!

UPDATE: cootietwoshoes has generously consented to share a stinkhorn mushroom photo with the group. Quoth Cootie: “Note the dripping ‘stink’! Note the salivating fly!” The brown goo is a spore mass that stinks like poo to attract spore-mass-distributing insects. Cootie was lucky to find them in this resolute, stinky state; the spongey pink glory of a stinkhorn shrivels within a day or two.

II.

I have recently dumped a manipulative patriarchal bastard, in which your blog was instrumental (the dumping, that is). I have therefore been finding it necessary to reaffirm my feminist-ity, and my, what a place to do it. It’s so great to find a blog which is so uncompromisingly radical and with such wit and humour. i.e. nice to laugh at the patriarchy as well as blame it.

– another blamer [via email]

You go girl. Whenever a blamer dumps a manipulative patriarchal bastard and has a laugh, a spinster aunt gets her wings frozen margarita machine.

III.

Meanwhile, the Obama presidency gets an anti-testimonial:

An impecunious woman has resorted to selling the handwritten letter from President Obama she received last year after writing to him expressing her fear that “this dreaded economy is going to have my family homeless.” The president magnanimously replied with these meaningful words of encouragement empty platitudes:

“Please know that things will get better for you and your family.”

Obama didn’t add “by selling this letter on eBay for some quick cash!” but luckily “single mom” Ms Mathis was able to read between the lines to take quick online auction action. Because instead of “things” getting “better” for her and her family, she’s about to be evicted. Sadly, unless it’s a letter from Abe Lincoln thanking Mr Ford for the tickets to the play, presidential correspondence isn’t gonna bankroll an impoverished family for long.

Tangentially — and I should probably save this pet peeve for another post, but then again who knows when, if ever, I’ll post again? — notice how the inclusion of the phrase “for you and your family” is ubiquitous in propaganda, whether marketing or politicking. It is always aimed at women (those notorious suckers for anything domestical in nature), and instantly confers wholesome sincerity on the speaker and his/her bullshit message. Whenever you hear “for you and your family” you know you are about to be told some big fucken lie.

31 comments

  1. Shopstewardess

    I. I have an occasional stinkhorn in my garden. No pictures, sadly, but I can testify to the stink.

    III. Here in the UK the politician’s mantra for the past several years has been “hard working families”. It is a trope which mightily disgruntles us hard-working spinsters.

  2. speedbudget

    Where am I on the frozen margarita machine list? I have been a spinster aunt for AGES and haven’t gotten mine yet.

  3. Alice Molloy

    Don’t forget “for you and your loved ones”. Makes me want a greeting card for “you and your hated ones”.

  4. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    @Alice: “Loved ones” always sounds funereal to me.

  5. Julezyme

    Inclusion of the word “family” sets my teeth on edge. See: values, entertainment, friendly, Manson …

  6. Sarah

    The word “family” seems to be abused by politicians to no end. “Family,” seems to mean “children,” which are of course women’s responsibility in totality. Politicians constantly abuse the word “family” when they’re trying to pull one over on the populace, saying things like, “making America safe for families,” or “keeping America’s families safe from terrorism.” Ick ick ick.

  7. Nolabelfits

    It really irks me when people ask “how is your family?” We are after all, a bunch of individuals and I can’t speak for everyone. Are they asking about the overall health of “the family unit?” If so, what the hell is that? I just can’t figure out what that question really means or how exactly to answer it.

  8. cootie twoshoes

    Because I don’t have the know-how to share with everyone here, a copy of the one clear pic I took of those stinkhorns now resides in the Twisty inbox. They look as you might imagine: gloopy & glorious.

    Congrats on the dumping, blamer.

  9. Comrade PhysioProf

    It really irks me when people ask “how is your family?”

    Maybe it’s too charitable, but I always interpret that as an expression of friendly concern about those whom one loves.

  10. Nolabelfits

    The problem is that there is no one statement that can sum up the state of those one loves. It is a complex question that requires a trite answer, particularly when asked by random acquaintances you don’t know that well.

  11. Comrade PhysioProf

    It’s highly likely that the people who ask that question don’t really want to know the answer. Maybe the next time someone asks, I’ll be all like this:

    “Well, my mother is a hateful manipulative narcissistic asshole, and my father is an abusive delusional douchebagge. Other than that, everyone’s doing great!”

  12. Nolabelfits

    Exactly! I usually just say “The Family is fine, thanks.” Which makes me feel like one of the Mansons or something.

  13. Kea

    Ah, that explains why people seem awkward when talking to a loner spinster aunt such as myself! It’s because they can’t trot out the formula, “so how is the family?” question. They would be quite welcome to ask, “so how is the stoat extermination program going?”, or “how does the Large Hadron Collider progress impact schedules for b physics at LHCb”, but these kind of questions never seem to come a spinster aunt’s way.

  14. Nolabelfits

    All of Jill’s cornerstones of patriarchy are wrapped up in the question “How’s the family?” but I’m just not articulate enough to hash it out.

    Thats four posts. Time to shut the piehole.

  15. Sidhe Bop

    “You go girl. Whenever a blamer dumps a manipulative patriarchal bastard and has a laugh, a spinster aunt gets her wings frozen margarita machine.”

    I love you so hard. <3
    Thank you for making me feel so good, so often.

  16. kate

    “luckily “single mom” Ms Mathis was able to read between the lines to take quick online auction action. Because instead of “things” getting “better” for her and her family, she’s about to be evicted.”

    I love that line because you so get it, but there’s some middle class rube saying somewhere, “Damn those poor people, so greedy, see why we should cut welfare some more, those thieving bitches always out to make a buck, like my brother’s ex-wife…”

    and you know the rest.

    Thanks Twist for keeping it real.

  17. Someone Else

    One needn’t be a spinster aunt to be unsuitable for the “family” question. One can be simply a middle aged, childless, yet appropriately married to a Nigel female. Then such a question will still NEVER come one’s way.

    See, even though I think the life I have with my Nigel and my houseful o’ critters is a family, it is not. Even if it was just me and Nigel, it wouldn’t be a family.

    For patriarchy, it’s only a family if the female in the male/female unit reproduces. Nothing else (apparently) counts.

  18. Boner Killer

    Twisty, you converted me!

  19. Flora Poste

    As Sarah says, “Politicians constantly abuse the word “family” when they’re trying to pull one over on the populace, saying things like, “making America safe for families,” or “keeping America’s families safe from terrorism.””

    Men who aren’t politicians imitate this behaviour, throwing the word “family” into conversations that have nothing to do with families, apparently convinced that the word itself has a magic power to convince listeners of just about anything.
    e.g.: Flora: Why apply the uniform policy so strictly to me but not to my colleague?
    Boss: He’s got a FAMILY!

    I’ve never heard a woman do this, though I’ve heard plenty of people of both sexes do something similar with the word “jobs”.

  20. Lovepug

    My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family…and your Stinkhorns.

  21. Sarah

    Yep, the “how’s the family?” question is almost universally applied to children – an answer describing your parents or siblings’ well-being stops being relevant after the age of oh, say, about 18 or so. Thereafter, people stop asking about your family for a few years and then begin again once you have babies and not a minute sooner. Even those with Official Hetero marriages to Nigels don’t often get asked about their hubsters’ welfare.

  22. Lovepug

    Like the PooPoop-U-Lator, you can try the Family Values > Stinkhorn Translater (yes, I am at work and I am bored).

    This chestnut from Michael Crichton:
    If you don’t know your family’s history, then you don’t know anything. You are a leaf that doesn’t know it is part of a tree.

    Becomes:
    If you don’t know Stinkhorn’s history, then you don’t know anything. You are a spore that doesn’t know it is part of a fungus.

    This wistful gem from Barbara Bush:
    I think togetherness is a very important ingredient to family life. Cherish your human connections – your relationships with friends and family.

    Becomes:
    I think togetherness is a very important ingredient to Stinkhorn life. Cherish your fungal connections – your relationships with heartwarming nature crap and Stinkhorns.

    Kickin it old school with Henri Frederic Amiel:
    Woman is the salvation or the destruction of the family. She carries its destiny in the folds of her mantle.

    Becomes:
    Woman is the salvation or the destruction of the Stinkhorn. She carries its destiny in the folds of her taco.

  23. Jill

    Boner Killer
    June 21, 2011 at 10:41 pm “Twisty, you converted me!”

    Jeepers, I did? Into what? Not, I hope, into a noxious gas. Whenever that happens I feel just terrible, for several days.

  24. allhellsloose

    Note the stinky patriarchial, phallocentric shape of the stinky ‘rooms. Heh, heh.

    Well this blog, along with the fine commenters helped me get over my obsession/possession/objectification of patriarchial het relationships. I now feel like a real liberated woman. There aint no strings on me.

    I’m going to share a family joke:

    Old Mother Hubbard
    Went to the Cupboard
    To get the poor dog a bone
    When she got there
    The cupboard was bare
    And the poor dog said
    “You’ve never really embraced consumer culture, have you?”

  25. Lurker Lyn

    When people ask me meaningless questions like “how’s the family” I’m tempted to reply things like “Oh they left.” and try to leave while the other person is trying to figure out if I’m serious or not.

  26. pheenobarbidoll

    “How’s the family” is polite small talk. If the person is a close friend, you give details. If the person is merely an acquaintance, a general reply of ” Fine and yours?” is all that is expected. It’s just a way of showing interest in a person’s life, and the level of interest runs from polite (not really interested but wants to be well mannered) to genuinely interested (because they care about you and your family).

    If the person asking is your BFF and knows all your life’s gory details, then you can get into the dirty specifics like

    My brother is still being a jackass and won’t get a job so my mother is stressing and making my life a living hell. Did your sister ever get the stick outta her ass?

    But unless they know you that well and you’re both comfortable with those kinds of details, sticking with “Everyone’s doing pretty good” is the safest bet.

    If you’re being asked by an overly churchy type, you can (for kicks) always throw in a ” Well Auntie Bea is going in to have her cholesterol checked” so the churchy person can feel pious by saying ” I’ll keep her in my prayers” and you can then extricate yourself quickly.

    If you want to amuse yourself, you can give answers like ” They’re being watched by Martians so I’m out to buy more tinfoil. Gotta keep those brains safe!”

  27. Bushfire

    Woman is te salvation or the destruction of the Stinkhorn. She carries its destiny in the folds of her taco.

    Fabulous poetry!

    One needn’t be a spinster aunt to be unsuitable for the “family” question. One can be simply a middle aged, childless, yet appropriately married to a Nigel female. Then such a question will still NEVER come one’s way.

    No kidding! When my partner and I moved into a one bedroom apartment here, our new landlord said “this is a great place for single women because it’s very safe”. I thought, what do you mean by single? And then I realized that single doesn’t mean not in a relationship, it means not shacking up with a dude which is fucked up in like 17 different ways.

  28. Bonnie

    We, too, have a hand-written letter from Obama. We invited him and Michelle to our lezbo California ’08 civil marriage/wedding-palooza. He declined (after the event took place), all platitudinally and stuff.

    I wonder if we should hold or sell?

  29. Embee

    “Nother frozen margarita machine coming your way. And my thanks, for what it’s worth (FWIW)

  30. Rididill

    Yay! I come forth to claim ownership of patriarchal bastard email. In fact, I was considering calling said patriarchal bastard to tell him what a patriarchal bastard he was, but knew in my heart of hearts that this would just incite further manipulations. And then I read this, and strengthened my resolve. Life doubly saved!

    Anyone else had a relationship that follows this formula? I know this is an anecdote, but I promise it serves a purpose.

    Dude does something self-centred and egotistical (for example, asks me to take a day off work to ‘spend the day together’ – turns out his idea of this is me following him around doing whatever boring shit he happened to be doing anyway rather than having any say in what we do)

    Me: excuse me good sir, but what the fuck? So I change my plans completely to be with you and you just expect me to follow you round like a little side kick?

    Dude: how dare you talk to me like that, no one talks to me like that! I am deeply offended. Am I not allowed to live my life? Do you want me to stop having a life? I just want to share my life with you! You’re oppressing me!

    Me: apologise for getting angry, explain calmly how ridiculous it is he can expect me to change everything for him while he just expects me to do whatever the fuck he wants, and explain calmly why exactly it bugs the hell out of me.

    Dude: Am I not allowed to live my life? Do you want me to stop having a life? You’re oppressing me!

    Me: You’re missing the point. (realising that him focusing on my tone is actually just his way of making me that bad guy and therefore an excuse not to have to listen to anything I say, a standard patriarchal bastard tactic)

    Dude: No one has ever had this problem with me before, it’s just your mental problems you crazy bitch.

    Me: Do you actually want to talk about this like adults and resolve this?

    Dude: What’s to resolve? I don’t have a problem, you’re the one with the problem, getting mad about nothing. Crazy bitch.

    Me: sighs, walks out.

    Later, ‘make up’ which largely involves pretending that whole thing didn’t happen, until it happens again a few days later.

    Repeat ad infinitum. Me starts to wonder if I actually am a crazy oppressive bitch with mental problems, self esteem and negotiating ability goes down the toilet.

    Lesson? Most guys will do anything to make it so they don’t have to listen to what you’re actually saying. Mostly includes labelling you insane, rude, selfish, or an oppressor. I may copyright this as the ‘patriarchal bastard technique of arguing’ and will then be able to sue every motherfucker who uses it.

    My apologies for the lengthy rant about my personal life, if it makes it onto the blog I can only hope it is enlightening for some.

  31. Jezebella

    That conversation is so familiar my stomach hurts, and I dumped my former patriarchal bastard a decade ago. I also thought I was the crazy, mean, controlling, nagging, buzzkill. I’ll still claim buzzkill, because it’s now funny to me, but I was none of those things. And neither are you. Now, this is the thing to remember: you are not crazy. In fact, youarenotcrazy.com is the website about verbal/emotional abuse that helped me put the whole experience into the proper perspective.

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