Nov 22 2011

Little Niggling Instances of the Redoubtable Efficacy of Patriarchal Oppression, Part I

Certainly nothing will delight you more than to be apprised of a few instances of patriarchal oppression noted in and around Spinster HQ over the last 48 hours (I originally wrote “24 hours” but I forgot to finish the post yesterday). Two are from real life, and two originated on PBS. I’ll do the PBS ones later; this here post will stick with the real life episodes. Because they are personally anecdotal in nature and contain many first person pronouns, you may wish to skip them. I know I would.

Real Life Episode #1

As you may recall, I have recently come into a buttload of feral donkeys. I am the world’s foremost expert on everything except feral donkeys, so I email a reputable donkey rescue. I ask whether they can recommend any local donkey clubs or wild burro support groups or Central Texas donksperts who can help me with my new donks.

The reply to my query comes from the chieftain of the rescue organization, a chap calling himself “Burro man.” Because patriarchy is our social order, Burro man responds, not with anything remotely resembling an answer to my simple question, but with a useless mansplaination on how to train donkeys. As if I had asked “will you please explain in six sentences or less how to train donkeys?” Because it is totally possible to explain donkey training in six sentences or less.

Burro man’s donkey training method, incidentally, is to corner the animal in a pen with a section of portable panel. Boy, I can hardly wait to get out there and try to put the squeeze on a terrified, 500-pound feral donkey with an 80-pound piece of steel tube fencing. Nobody’ll get hurt at all.

Thanks a bundle, Burro man.

Real Life Episode #2

I invite a recommended fencing contractor over to give me an estimate (so I can fence in the aforementioned donkeys). Instead of the fun conversation about fence post diameters and brace configurations I had so joyfully anticipated, the discourse immediately takes a most unpleasant turn. I am dismayed to perceive that Mr McFence is one of those white dude megabores who blabs nonstop, not about fences, but about himself. And about his even more megaboring family.

With the result that I can now assert without fear of contradiction that I rank as the world’s Number 1 expert on this McFence numbskull. If Alfred A. Knopf called and said, “Hey Twisty, how’s about you ghost-write McFence’s autobiography?” they’d have the finished manuscript on their desk in less than a week. If I took a test and the essay question was “McFence’s views on corruption and the radical Muslim agenda in the Obama presidency may be said to precisely mimic those of Fox News pundits. Discuss,” I would totally ace that test. If the amount of McFence’s daughter’s annual salary was the answer on Final Jeopardy, I would totally win the big money. I know where McFence was born, the name of his church, and the names, occupations, and geographic locations of each of his forty-seven adult children (who were expertly raised by the sainted wife who really wears the pants in the family).

Oblivious to signs of my increasingly excruciating boredom, such as my grimace, my pulsating obstreperal lobe, or my repeated attempts to discuss fencing, Mr McFence will not rest until he has revealed more tedious details of his personal life. I would spare you, but then you wouldn’t know the true extent of my pain. So: he is 67 years old, he recently lost 40 pounds, he’s a Tea Partyer, his family are holy rollers, he wants to move to Alaska, he’s “part Cherokee,” and (like all Central Texas contractors) his favorite client and best friend in the whole world is Willie Nelson, especially now that Willie has fired all the “druggies” and has accountants who pay up promptly.

It’s as though he’s been cribbing from a list entitled “The Main Things Spinster Aunts Couldn’t Care Less About.”

You are undoubtedly familiar with the version of this guy who lives in your town, so I hardly need mention that during the course of our encounter, McFence runs out of A material early on, and is obliged to recycle most of his monologue three and four times. Maybe he thinks I won’t notice because I’m just a dumb donkey farmer.

At first it is unclear to me why my presence is required at all, since he is so determined never to let me speak. I eventually catch on that my role during the delivery of this epic soliloquy is to nod each time I am informed that that he’d been a Marine sniper “in Nam” where his best buddy sniped “over 300 kills” and “the V-C” had a bounty on his head.

Finally, after a hour and a half and many failed attempts, I manage to steer his attention toward a topic that is more fascinating than his mass-murdering Army buddy by many orders of magnitude: cedar posts and wire mesh. After the stunning revelation that McFence’s LDL cholesterol is down from 188 to 130, and before suffering for the 3rd time the gripping information that his son works as a landscaper on the coast, I actually pry an estimate out of him. He is silent for about 34 seconds while he does the cipherin’ in his head. He’s so quiet I begin to wonder if his astonishing profusion of empty babbling has in fact ruptured a vocal cord. But it is not to be. Horribly, he gets a second wind. McFence goes on to tell me how honest he is, how he’s just plain folks, how the good lord is looking out for him, and — don’t pretend you didn’t see this coming —

“I treat my wetbacks like family.”

Ohhhhh yeah.

It was a most painful way to learn this lesson, but believe me, I will never again leave the house without packing my Mr T in Your Pocket Talking Keychain. The most excellent device ever invented, Mr T in Your Pocket is used to advise dipshits to shut their piehole with your choice of 6 of the beloved A-Teamer’s most colorful catchphrases, including “Don’t make me mad, grrrr!”, the succinct “Shut up, fool!”, and of course the iconic “Quitcho jibba jabba!”

Incidentally, Mr T in Your Pocket is identical to Radical Feminist in Your Pocket, except that Radical Feminist in Your Pocket does not actually exist, probably because in it “Don’t gimme no backtalk, sucka!” has been replaced by the rather more romantic phrase “Please remain still while I saw off your racist mansplaining pencil-dick with the rusty machete they issue all humorless hairy feminists in Women’s Studies, fool!”

Next time: Little Niggling Instances of the Redoubtable Efficacy of Patriarchal Oppression, Part II: Shit I Saw on PBS.


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  1. Comrade PhysioProf

    Sounds like you might have been better off having your assistant deal with the fucken fenceposte.

  2. Kea

    Yes, there are certainly disadvantages to having to manage property. I can easily avoid the Talkers, and avoid showing my ingratitude towards their immense generosity in taking my money, or other free services. That said, a few little instances? Oh, I can only dream.

  3. Cade

    Good Lord, I am literally laughing out loud at my desk. I cannot explain to my male boss (and only other occupant of this office) the reason why, which makes me laugh even harder. I love you.

  4. Pinko Punko

    I did in fact not see that coming.

    I will not go into detail, but I allude to our “bug” dude, who in addition to many of the tropes described above wants to go back to school in Physics because he’s interested in the possibility of time travel or some such, and shakes his head sadly that the government does not allow people to discriminate against minorities, not because it is an issue of racism but instead of individual liberty, the veritable tears in his eyes about the sad state of business owner freedom really keeps him up at night.

  5. RapidEyeMovement

    I follow a rule: never ask more than one very simple question per email, and try not to precede that question with much explanatory narrative.

    If you ask two questions, it is guaranteed neither will be answered. I suspect your question had too many words of more than one syllable.

  6. Jill

    November 22, 2011 at 8:40 pm

    I follow a rule: never ask more than one very simple question per email, and try not to precede that question with much explanatory narrative.

    Words to live by.

  7. ElizaN

    It seems like when dealing with the donkeys, bribery would be much simpler and pleasanter for all involved. Oh, Burro Man! Stupid and a jerk!

  8. Jill

    November 22, 2011 at 9:29 pm

    It seems like when dealing with the donkeys, bribery would be much simpler and pleasanter for all involved.

    I agree completely. So far bribery has been working a treat. When they first arrived a week ago they wouldn’t come within 20 feet of me. Since then, with the aid of carrots, I’ve succeeded in getting close enough to put a halter (albeit unbuckled) on Daphne, to scratch the withers and pick up one foot of Mrs. Which, and to hand-feed Sylvia Plath a fistful of hay. The necessity of squishing them with cow panels has yet to manifest itself.

  9. janna

    Jill, I cannot express how much I love your donkey names.

  10. Tigs

    I totallly have that Mr. T keychain! It’s so great! My favorite is pushing the button a bunch of times in a row so you get: “don’t gimme no, don’t gimme no, don’t gimme no, don’t gimme no backtalk.”

    I think I’ll bring it to thanksgiving dinner.


  11. Owly

    Ah, reminds me of my charming former neighbor. But she called them “Messkins.” She also had 3 terrifying dobermans, but that’s another story.

    We also had an exterminator that my mom swears had inhaled too many fumes during his career. He let us know (in detail) how easy it would be to assassinate the president, took a gun into our attic to kill a squirrel, asked me if I wanted to see the knife collection he kept in his van, and, upon learning that I whittled as a hobby, requested “a walking stick that would hide a samurai sword.” Good times in Dripping Springs.

  12. quixote

    In real life, I would kill McFence after about 15 minutes. But you made me laugh (out loud!) about him. Like water into wine. It’s a miracle.

  13. Jill


  14. Keri

    Mr T keychain…I hope there’s an app for that.

  15. cilla

    This marvelous person is all about donkeys and knows others just like her here at http://www.the7msnranch.com
    I used to have a Mr T key chain. Wish I knew where I had stashed it! I have a bullshit button on the front desk at my studio, it’s very loud, very american and brilliant. c x

  16. MezzoPiana

    OK, so this Brit had to ask the Good Lord Google what a ‘wetback’ is.


  17. DrSue

    I have that keychain, too (handed down from my son who doesn’t need it anymore now that he is 6’2 with a deep voice so people actually listen to him). I just checked, and there are Mr. T soundboard apps for both iPhone and android phones. Highly recommended.

  18. tehomet

    You took in the donkeys out of the goodness of your heart. Clearly no good deed goes unpunished.

  19. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    The only pocket device I own spews obscenities. I removed its batteries before I succumbed to the temptation to use it during a staff meeting.

  20. buttercup

    So glad to know the donkeys are safely ensconced at El Rancho. I was worried.

    Not gonna waste my time worrying about the fence dood.

  21. Hane

    I kinda-sorta predicted how them-thar male blue collar types might hold forth deep in the heart of Texas (and everywhere else, for that matter).

    I recall what had theretofore been a pleasant dog-walk. The Evil Tippy and I encountered a fellow dog-walker, a presentable-looking man of my own (advanced) age. A congenial chat about our dogs, mutual acquaintances, and the neighborhood rapidly devolved into a lengthy Rushplanation, a brand of diatribe which leaves mansplanation writhing and panting fecklessly in the dust. I invented a pressing commitment and got the hell away. Years of Italian-American Daughter Conditioning have left me unable to blurt out such useful phrases as, “Whoa, that’s FUCKED UP, dude.” I hope to outgrow such conditioning before I finally buy the farm.

  22. Keri

    Now the proud owner of the free Ipity app. Thanks Dr. Sue.

    “I still got two feet so kickin you ain’t no problem!”

  23. SOPHIA


  24. ew_nc

    There are about 75,238 Mr. McFences here in my little rural corner of the South. They must all belong to the same club because they all tell the same stories, ad nauseum. And there’s precious little hope of escape if you are so unlucky to be in a business transaction with them. I’m guessing he referred to his wife as “The Missus”?

    I think I can guess what PBS show you will be discussing, because I’ve recently endured some very misogynist programming from them.

  25. Satchel

    It never fails to amaze me how men feel entitled to All the Space: conversational space (see above), physical space (see any sidewalk or grocery store aisle), emotional space (viz. Elevatorgate), you name it.

    Not to thread hijack, but: Rolling Stone just came out with a list of the 100 Best Guitarists of All Time. If you had “75” and “2” in the office pool, for the “highest number a woman holds on the list” and “total number of women on the list,” congratulations! You win!

  26. Barbara P

    Is it heartwarming or discouraging that you live in the same stupid world as me, and NOT Savage Death Island?

  27. Katy

    What the eff! I never got my rusty machete.

  28. greengirl

    Would it be thread hijacking for us to come up with some great creative comebacks to stop these dinobores mid-ramble??

  29. banjofeminist

    It never fails to amaze me how men feel entitled to All the Space: conversational space (see above), physical space (see any sidewalk or grocery store aisle), emotional space (viz. Elevatorgate), you name it.

    Amen, Satchel. There is something phallic about it, especially in the conversational realm. We are the recepticles for their wordjaculations. Yeah, I went there.

  30. Comrade PhysioProf

    “squishing them with cow panels”

    What the fucken fucke does thatte mean??

  31. Ruby Lou

    There’s a ton of things to feel good about this Thanksgiving Day, but learning of the Mr. T in your pocket keychain tops the list by far and away. The discerning trickster grandmother needs a ready inventory of choice gifts for her beloved grandson whose presence in the household will disturb the bland NPR balance of truth, while providing both grandchild and grandmother with many fun-filled hours of brazen mischief. Mr. T is so frekken perfect for this, I can’t even begin to describe

  32. Jill

    I whipped out my Mr T keychain at the Faster family face-cram tonight, and the tots were screaming “quit yo jibba jabba!” and “shut up, fool!” by the time I left. I thought this was adorable, but their mother shot me the stink eye about 78 times.

  33. Jezebella

    And that, in a nutshell, is what being a spinster aunt is all about, if you ask me. I sorta wish my only sibling would provide me with a niece so we could conspire against him.

  34. Jodie

    Dr. Sue, that’s exactly how I got MY Mr T keychain!

  35. suze

    When you said you wanted an ass fence, you got the master.

  36. nails

    I am fucking sick of the McFences of the world. It is the same problem every time, they just don’t fucking listen to other people. They think they are so interesting and special that even direct objections to hearing about their banal opinions causes them to conclude that you didn’t mean what you said, and you really ARE interested in hearing more. I believe that dude inability to hear female non-compliance in general is a main contributor to rape culture. I am surprised that anti-rape campaigns don’t focus on listening to women in general instead of focusing on sexual consent exclusively. How likely is it that a dude who doesn’t listen will decide that listening to women when they say no is only important during very specific activities? Not very likely, really.

  37. LadyDay

    What is it about white Texan men repairing things (e.g. my car), and when the bill comes, a long-winded mansplanation about how “honest” they are? Name dropping – check. Godly – check. I could go on. The next time some white Texan dude starts telling me how honest he is, I’ve learned my lesson and I’m running.

  38. slade

    I’ve said, “Excuse me,” over and over in order to be heard. Finally, I just give up and put my thumb and index finger together, place them in my mouth and whistle so loud that no one can hear anything for a few minutes.

    I can’t stand the sound of bullshitting males. Maybe I should just carry a little sign around that says, “STFU,” and use it when necessary.

    I’ve long threatened to tattoo the word, “LISTEN,” on my forehead, but I’m just not into permanent makeup on my face.

    Males are a lot like jackasses in that sometimes it takes a hit by a 2 x 4 to get their attention. Not that I would hit
    an animal, but the carrot approach doesn’t seem to work on human males.

    It’s funny, a dude will be yakking on and on and I just walk away leaving him talking to himself. It’s amazing how long they rattle on and then run after you. I usually yell, ‘911’ and he’ll stop chasing.

    I am a total crusading, independent misfit. Take that PBS.

  39. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    Nieces and nephews are the best thing about having siblings. And I oughtta know — I have about 50 of ’em at last count. Teaching them my father’s stock of strongly-PG-13 stories and songs (The Dog Party, The Monkey & The Babboon et. al) has afforded me the rich opportunity of exacting revenge upon my sisters for childhood torments (The Giant Monster Carrot in the Attic, We Wanna See Antoinette Go Down Sharkey’s Hill in the Stroller Solo, etc.) A dish best served cold, indeed.

  40. Rae

    I can’t help but comment here,
    this is great writing! You SHOULD write a book so I’d have something to read.

  41. Kristin

    Auntie Jill, thank you once again for a great post. After reading this I ordered two Mr T keychains. They are BRILLIANT. I press the ‘shut up, fool!’ button the most, then laugh and pretend I did it by accident. I’ve done it with my nosey gasbag neighbours and a man who came to mend the telephone line who was jibber-jabbering non-stop, despite my staring at the laptop screen. Before that, if some mega-bore dudey was entitling on at me I would say politely, “Excuse me, I don’t want to listen to you any more.” They were gobsmacked. I suppose the idea of anyone not wanting to listen to their dipshitism is gobsmacking.

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