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Mar 02 2012

Spinster aunt gives relationship advice to no one in particular

Prickly pear margaritas

A prose poem by blamer Notorious PhD, hidden in yesterday’s comments, describes a tribal gathering on Savage Death Island.

*************

Over tacos and margaritas, Sylvie announces to her radfem peers, “I’ve decided to take a Nigel.” Radfem besties exchange significant glances, then one says, “Are you sure that’s wise?” Sylvie whips out a pros and cons list, and they all debate it well into the night.

*************

As long as you get out at the first sign of lobe leakage. Lobe leakage, as you know, is the result of shrapnel from the explosion and subsequent disintegration of your personal autonomy. Women are conditioned to stay in relationships way after the initial detonation, often soldiering on until their lobes are just festering, shredded bags of pus.

Don’t let this happen to you! Dump him!

________________
Photo: Jill Psmith. “Prickly Pear Margaritas.” The Prickly Pear Margaritas of East Austin. The Spinstitute for the Study of Magentitude in Beverages, 2007.

118 comments

  1. Friend of Snakes

    I don’t do men. So, pass.

  2. Twisty

    I was going to put something in about how non-heterosexual relationships, as they are based on the hetero model, are just as dangerous, but I figured the advanced blamer would already know that.

  3. Friend of Snakes

    The advanced blamer knows said relationships are even more heartbreaking, for just that reason.

  4. Friend of Snakes

    Having followed one of the suggested Possibly Related Posts, I recommend the words of B. Dagger Lee, for no reason other than they’re a fine way to start the day:

    It’s always time for Kipling!

    If you can keep your cuntalina when all about you
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you

    –or:

    Whose cuntalinas these are I think I know.
    Her house is in the village though;

    Okay, I’ve used up my bandwidth for now.

  5. damequixote

    And had this non hetero blamer remembered that bit of good advice my last one would’ve been over at 2 years, 3 tops, instead of 5 when I, like the engines of the Enterprise, could take no more.

    If there are ever tacos and Margaritas at Savage Death Island I am so there. And Twisty, I am handy as hell with a chainsaw.

  6. dillene

    Frankly, I’m still undergoing an emotional recovery after the untimely death of my pet chinchilla some three years ago. I was happy with him, sometimes. He was my cute little funnybunny and I loved him, but looking back on it now I can see that our relationship was fraught with tension and with mindgames of dominance and submission. While I deeply regret his passing, it will be a couple of decades before I am ready to take on the burden of another relationship.

  7. quixote

    Chinchillas! I l-o-o-o-ve chinchillas!

  8. stickypaws

    Cheers to whoever recommended Bancroft’s book Why Does He Do That a few posts back. I’ve been reading it for the past week and it’s a fuckin’ great book.

  9. Keri

    Last night I was out doing the butt dance with a friend who is engaged to a Nigel. We were out until an unreasonable hour and she literally kept jumping up and down clapping her hands frantically and shouting, “Hall pass, hall pass, hall pass!!!”.

    Living under the Tyranny of Nigel just ain’t no frickin fun. Buh-bye. Life’s too short not to thoroughly enjoy all kinda other shit than a Nigel like backpacking with ladies, snowboarding, butt dancing, hangin with your chillen and or nieces, watching random shit on t.v., writing a book, trying to do a good job at work, having a margarita, making out with your girlfriend, mowing your lawn, watching paint dry, and or any other activity which is just inherently more satisfying that some dooooood.

  10. Keri

    *than

  11. Laura

    The real issue I find is following a path already laid out means that each step is one big “Let’s embrace this aspect of Patriarchy into our interactions moreso!”

    Not that efforts to act differently are not tainted, shaped, warped, and strained by P as well. It is just hard to imagine jumping full-force into such a fraught mess (I am inferring that “take on” means “get hitched” rather than “be couple-y with.” Correct me if I am wrong.)

  12. Lovepug

    I watched Aliens last night for the umpteenth time. This time the director’s cut.

    The aforementioned description of lobe blowing was not unlike what happens when Vasquez empties her entire magazine into the onslaught of approching Alien larvae.

    Since I’m currently being cocooned by a Nigel, I got nothin beyond that.

  13. ivyleaves

    I can’t thank whoever enough for the “junior partner” thing. That was it, exactly! And for me, who was always the breadwinner in control of the cash, it was as much voluntary p-compliance from brainwashing as it was attempted domination by the Nigel du jour.

  14. Hippolyta

    Some posters seem to think that if one finds the appropriate partner one achieves some sort of detente with partriarchy. Rather it is a concession to patriarchy, an enacting of femininity, much like wearing makeup or being self-conscious of one’s body or having children. Compliance with the patriarchy is a human female’s state of being, but as radical feminists I would hope that we make as many choices as possible which buck the norm. Discussing how we comply with the norm on this of all blogs makes my lobe ache, as does reading the word Nigel.

  15. LisaB

    Read an advice column letter this morning (yup, I love reading advice columns) from a woman who has been married to 25 years to a jerk who ignores her (some may think that’s a bonus). Because she believes in the sanctity of marriage, she has resigned herself to keeping on with the status quo. She needs a visit to SDI, stat. If only she knew how good things could be…

  16. stacey

    @Hippolyta: Eeeeehn. Sometimes one is too deeply embedded to make the full removal from patriarchy. We do what we have to do, right? I stay in my marriage because there’s no way I could support myself financially the way Nigel supports me, and he’s kind enough to put up with my 8-yr-long housework strike and indifferent child-minding. Besides, he cooks well and I like him. So, I’ll continue to comply as long as it benefits me. I don’t even have to wear high heels!

  17. Razzby

    For near a decade, I occupied the hunting grounds of a rabid Nigel who was, well, evil. He’s by called “psychopath” or “disturbed” or “wounded” – all easy ways of reclassifying the old school “evil.”

    I’m not being glib with using the word. As far as I have analyzed it, evil means someone who not only has complete disregard for how their behavior/desires hurt people, but who even when shown that they are indeed hurting people, still prioritize his/her own needs over it. Hence, an evil Nigel.

    I was happily Nigel free for a long time. There’s a particularly interesting Nigel I’ve been experimenting with taming, but it’s WORK. The experiment is a bit of a circular logic:

    “Ah, he’s getting it.”
    “No, I hammered it into him!”
    “Is he choosing this because he doesn’t want to be evil, or because being around me pumps him full of happy chemicals i.e. he’s getting his fix?”
    “Am I a bringer of truth or a very clever drug dealer?”

    Oh, Nigel, Nigel. Even when you’re being good, I’m pretty sure I engineered it for you and made it accessibly palatable.

  18. veganrampage

    Fine, fine, I get it but be prepared to be treated like Miss Bates in “Emma” if you are poor and Emma in “Emma” in you are independently wealthy. You’ll catch all the crap from your even lower status in the pack, and from all sides.
    Still , I ridded myself of that thing I once O so foolishly legally bound myself to and was glad of it, but at a price, at a price.

  19. Framboise

    Much better to spend one’s life in search of the ideal taco for patriarchy blaming than in the care and feeding of a Nigel.

  20. Hermionemone

    Women are conditioned to stay in relationships way after the initial detonation, often soldiering on until their lobes are just festering, shredded bags of pus.

    Amen to that! (Note prefix ‘a-’ meaning without, and ‘men’ meaning #$%@#, or, No shit, Sherlock).

    In my recent but apparently typical experience taking a Nigel, most of the good part was over in 3 yr, but hope that we’d get back to the plus side, kept me there for another 4. He’s still a good guy, but you have to be careful not to push them beyond their core competency. I think I’m done with dudes for the foreseeable future.

    The last, but most cruel of the evils released from Pandora’s little booby-trapped box of afflictions, was Hope.

  21. Kristine

    Honestly, the more I think about it, the more it seems that romantic relationships are a method of control rather than an expression of love. I’m beginning to agree with the S.C.U.M. Manifesto:

    “Love is not dependency or sex, but friendship, and therefore, love can’t exist between two males, between a male and a female, or between two females, one or both of whom is a mindless, insecure, pandering male; like conversation, love can exist only between two secure, free-wheeling, independent groovy female females, since friendship is based upon respect, not contempt.”

    Although most of the Manifesto makes my head hurt (is it symbolic, metaphorical, or to be taken literally?), that paragraph sticks with me.

  22. yardshark

    I agree with all the radfem on this page, but really, there’s not much compliance goin’ on chez moi. It sounds as if most believe it’s not even remotely possible to get (however asymptotically) close to not being dominated when close to a Nigel. (I allow that we still live in the P for reals, yes,, so we’re still going to get P-attitude from outside.)

    Is it not possible to be of different genders and still be, as Kristine quotes, “two secure, free-wheeling, independent groovy” people in love that is “friendship?” Is it futile to attempt it with someone born male? Side note: we are both intentionally child-free, so we don’t have to sort out all that other stuff.

    I’ve been in relationships that had controlling aspects, although they were still pretty mild. My dad was a good example of what not to get involved with, and I learned from it. But if I accept the complete impossibility of having a truly good relationship with a non-female that many people seem to believe in here, then I would have to come to the conclusion that I’m seriously deluded that things are actually good. Should I consider the possibility that my contentment is false, and so is my consciousness, informed by radfem though it be?

  23. Hippolyta

    @stacey- There is no full removal from the patriarchy. I think we make choices that result in more or less compliance with the patriarchy. It is my preference (though my preference hardly matters since it is not my blog) that we discuss the ways in which we buck the patriarchy rather than the ways we submit to it. I don’t come here to get make up tips, hear about marriages or the latest in natural faux fur. I come here to read about taking one’s nieces roving in the Gator or reading someone quote the SCUM Manifesto. Last time I checked, I’m in the right place for those things.

  24. Notorious Ph.D.

    The FIRST sign of lobe leakage. FIRST.

    If I ever take a Nigel again, I must take the precaution of getting this tattooed somewhere on my bod. Because I do tend to forget, in the thick of it.

  25. Kristine

    To be clear, I only identified with the “true love is friendship” part. The (what looked like) gender-essentialism in the Manifesto really bothered me, but then again, I have no idea if it’s supposed to be read literally or not.

  26. hayduke

    It’s been a while since I read the good old Manifesto, but the gender-essentialism bothered me, too. The P nurtures itself, for damn sure, but it ain’t nature – it’s not that dudes are actually, literally incapable of thinking and behaving appropriately. It is that they are provided, by the P, with so many incentives not to. I got no time for any assertion that they somehow “can’t help it.” Yes, as a matter of fact; yes, they fucking well can.

  27. Tiakristi

    Notorious PhD: the tattoo is a truly excellent idea that I would steal. If i didn’t think I meant it this time, dammit. No more dudes.

    Twisty, as usual, your advice regarding the necessity of leaving after the lobe leakage is succinct, timely and correct. I’ve been kicking this topic aroundfor a couple days since it came up on the previous thread, and upon reflection, it IS staying after the lobe blowage that does the most damage.

  28. qvaken

    I read one of those Agony Aunt things this morning (yeah, me too, LisaB) that was truly miserable. A young woman, in her early twenties, was baffled and hurt that her boyfriend of four years had moved into student accommodation and decided that it was more fun than staying in a relationship with her, and told her so. If it wasn’t familiar-sounding enough, she included a paragraph about how he had advised her that his decision was good for her, because she suffers from depression and would have a chance to focus on herself and get better rather than rely on him, and she wrote how, despite her shock and resistance to the break-up, she whole-heartedly agreed with his sentiment.

    I felt awful reading it, because clearly this boyfriend knows that he has every entitlement to have what he wants when he wants it, and I sensed that she has learned that she has no choice in the matter. If the whole situation were to progress as I predict, then some months down the track he may decide that he wants her back, and put up an intimidating fight against her until, again, he gets what he wants, or leaves her worse off for not doing what she’s told.

    The Agony Aunt promptly admonished her for trying to “manipulate him” into “staying when he doesn’t want to”, and of course the commenters advised her to “Let him go!” because “He’s seen how great student life is and he wants to have sex with lots of foreign students and he can’t do that with you around!” (Just to add another unpleasant item to her list of ‘Things that I have to worry about even though they have nothing to do with me’.)

    Lesson learned: If you’re a woman, you’d better shut up and take what’s given to you, because the decision’s not up to you. Thanks, popular culture!

  29. yttik

    “Lobe leakage, as you know, is the result of shrapnel from the explosion and subsequent disintegration of your personal autonomy. Women are conditioned to stay in relationships way after the initial detonation, often soldiering on until their lobes are just festering,”

    I believe the lobe leakage begins long before the relationship. Twisty speaks of the “subsequent disintegration of your personal autonomy” but many women have little or no autonomy long before a relationship even begins. Economic inequality, escaping an abusive home, cultural conditioning, etc, leave many women with no other options, no real autonomy.

    Twisty also speaks of the “initial detonation,” but far too often you’re more like a frog in pot of slowly heated water. You don’t jump out of the pot because you don’t even realize the heat is increasing.

  30. Twisty

    Hippolyta is on fire.

    There is no full removal from the patriarchy. I think we make choices that result in more or less compliance with the patriarchy.

    Hell yeah. There is a lot more gaming the system than there is revolution. By which I mean, there is no revolution whatsoever, while gazillions of individual women individually choose choices that allow for varying degrees of delusion.

    Until dudely privilege is a thing of the past, any relationship with a dude, however benevolent he may be or appear to be, is a concession to the Global Accords Governing Fair Use of Women. This is because all dudes, whether they wish to or not, exercise privilege, and benefit from it, and women can but experience this as oppression, because this privilege comes at their expense. The exercise of privilege is oppressive. The intent of the dude is irrelevant to the outcome, which outcome is invariably the oppression of the sex class, i.e. you.

  31. qvaken

    Basically, we’re set up with a minimal number of acceptable choices that we can be reasonably expected to make in life, then we’re convinced that we have complete control over those, then we make whichever choice we think will result in optimum benefit to us while either ignoring or accepting the degradation inherent therein, then we’re told that what we’re doing is bad and we chose it and it’s all our fault. (Simultaneously: ‘Why Aren’t You Thinking About The Men Oh God Won’t Somebody Please Think About The Men??’)

    Rinse, repeat.

  32. nails

    I struggle with IBTP’s continued insistence that the end of patriarchy will only come via revolution, it seems contradictory to post criticism of personal decisions made by an extremely small portion of the female population (radical feminists). If only a spontaneous, overwhelming uprising will end this thing, what is the point of posts like these?

    Is there any possibility that these women *fully grasp* the problem and perhaps just have different priorities than you do? Is that at all possible?

  33. qvaken

    nails: Hopefully I understand you properly. Sorry if I don’t, I’m coming down from my every-so-often panic attack over arguing over the “I was raped! I had to face up to it – you should face up to it too! Stop coming up with excuses as to why I’m being inappropriate right now, and stop saying things to dismiss what I’m saying! You’re meant to be my friend! Just face up to it! Aaaargh!”

    My perspective is: “The current system is so regimented and so anti-woman that some might say that it’s suffocating. It’s extremely difficult to make it through. Your behaviours might either be following the exact rule book that’s been set out for you, or you might be trying to break those rules because they won’t suit you – you will find yourself being harshly criticised by others either way. It’s not your fault, but just about everyone will tell you that it is your fault. You’ll do your absolute best to find a path that works for you in the best possible way, and that’s perfectly understandable. You might feel fine with your choices and that’s what we’re all aiming for so good for you, or you might feel degraded by your choices, but don’t beat yourself up because you’re doing the best that you can do.”

    I don’t know. I support women. I wish that things were different. I don’t think that it’s women’s fault that things are as bad as they are.

  34. Margaret

    Love is revolutionary: so the P can’t stand it. The P stamps love out viciously wherever it is found. It doesn’t matter if the love is between men, between women, between men and women, between parents and children, with your pets, or anywhere else love occurs, it just doesn’t matter to the P. It shall be destroyed and made to wither using the old familiar tactics we all know and some we’re just now learning about thanks to this blog and life experience. Cynical about love, I am not. Cynical that it will last – certainly.

  35. Hoya

    Just putting out a feeler, but are any of you fellow blamers in or around London, England? I don’t really know any radfems (or, like me, semi-radfems) here and I’m jonesing for some real live blaming. With cocktails.

  36. Mildred

    But the loneliness! The unfathomable and desperate loneliness!
    Where are the radical feminists who will greet me with open arms, taco’s and cocktails?

  37. Twisty

    Nails: “Is there any possibility that these women *fully grasp* the problem and perhaps just have different priorities than you do? Is that at all possible?”

    It is not only possible, it is a fact. It is completely obvious that revolution is not a priority with the vast, vast majority of feminists, let alone women generally. That was the entire gist of my statement.

    Women’s complicity in patriarchal oppression is obviously involuntary; pointing out that it exists is not tantamount to blaming women for their own victimization.

  38. yttik

    Totally agree, qvaken. The shorter version is that women can’t win no matter what alleged “choices” we make. You’re never going to be able to please everyone so you have to please yourself and do what works for you. It really doesn’t matter if you shave your legs or not or if you hook up with a Nigel or not, these are more like subjects of discussion designed to make us think and question the expectations placed on us. There really are no “wrong” choices. Unfortunately, there may be no “right” ones either, but that really is the root of the problem. Far too many women are conditioned and trained to base our choices on the court of public opinion, rather then on our own needs.

  39. quixote

    Mildred hits the nail on the head. The fear of loneliness (and less-money) is the megafactor holding back understanding. What’s the percentage in understanding if it threatens your deepest needs? And no understanding = no change. Forget revolution.

    If anyone figures out the feminist solution on how to lose fear, let me know.

  40. Keri

    “love can exist only between two secure, free-wheeling, independent groovy female females, since friendship is based upon respect, not contempt”

    Yeah, that. As Twisty said, the patriarchal relationship constructs exist in the non-heterosexual relationships of course too. Hence, I have recently been regularly subjected to what I will call the Constant Assessment of Spousiness.

    Being free-wheeling and independent as a lady is to buck a system in a way that makes so many people uncomfortable on a daily basis and unfortunately they all want to let you know how they fricken feel. Sometimes while doing things I love to do, I momentarily forget that the world is not my oyster and I quickly get smacked right back into place. You don’t even need to take on a Nigel to enjoy these benefits of the patriarchy. Sigh.

  41. someonered

    This is why it seems so important to at least point out the myriad ways in which the patriarchy holds women back, and keeps us oppressed, at almost each and every opportunity. At least not keep silent and just greet the ubiquitous reminders of P with a roll of the eyes or a resigned sigh.

    Many people end up tuning you out, but what’s the point of keeping silent? If just a few people end up giving at least a second thought to some of these things in the future, then it’s worth it, and anyone who ditches you over it isn’t worth having around anyway.

  42. someonered

    Yeah, didn’t think I got that right. Meant to quote this: yttik, “Far too many women are conditioned and trained to base our choices on the court of public opinion, rather then on our own needs.”

  43. yttik

    What happens a lot is that women tend to blame themselves for just about everything. So a feminist will post something like, “Nigel’s can be dangerous,” and women will hear, “I’m bad because I have a Nigel.” Or somebody will point out that PIV carries a great deal of risk and women will hear, “I’m bad if I have PIV..” The truth is we’re all just trying to navigate a rigged system as best we can. That’s the beauty of IBTP, put the blame where it belongs, not on yourself.

  44. someonered

    Yes, criticism of the P is criticism of the P, but the P conditions women to believe that every flipping thing that goes wrong anywhere in the world is somehow due to women. From Eve to rape victims to victims of domestic violence, the common refrain of men is, “Look what you made me do”. So of course many women will instinctively look for some way that any criticism must somehow also apply to them personally. Being an expert at this personally, the “I must be to blame or at least share in the blame somehow” syndrome is no mystery to me at all. It’s just a ruse that enables the P to foist the burden of all of life’s injustices onto the shoulders of women.

  45. TwissB

    It’s time to break out Mary K. Blakely’s definitive observation: “Only a woman would apologize when it rains on the family picnic.”

  46. Woman

    This is all very simple math to me, though it’s taken awhile for me to get very real about it:

    I am with my Nigel because I lack the resources to be independent of him without bringing utter destitution upon myself and my child. I chose to harbor with a Nigel who does not beat me or yell at me, and who lets me get away with not cleaning or cooking every day, and does not pester me about my time too often. That it is up to my Nigel to determine the parameters of my misery is entirely obvious to me; this is a strategic arrangement, as it always must be when it comes to Nigels.

    We all have ways of coping with the mental anguish of that oppression. I spend my free time providing support for independent feminist women in media by giving them websites and graphics stuff at no cost so they can have a platform. But I do that as much for my own sanity as I do for feminism. It’s important to have something like that, I think, to keep the black hole of Patriarchy from eating your entire mind, especially when you are living under the aegis of a Nigel’s whim.

  47. Hippolyta

    I think many feminists avoid a radical feminist ideology because it represents such a tragic view of our world. A radical feminist realizes that all girl children born into this world will be harmed by the patriarchy. There is no inoculation. There is no ameliorating. There is no opting out. There is no escape. Intelligent, curious, adventurous girls will be victimized by the patriarchy and we are ultimately powerless to help them or ourselves. The only consolation is the belief that this worldview holds more accuracy than others because we recognize some of the ways in which we are oppressed. We will try to teach our girls this recognition so they will know where to place the blame; never on themselves, always on the oppressor. IBTP

  48. CH White

    I’ve been rasslin’ with this particular alligator of late and it’s so refreshing to read this. My last effort at m/f romance left my lobes and life so shredded that it’s taken four years of therapy to be able to function again in the world. Since the previous attempts were even less successful I’ve recently been contemplating what a deliberate Nigel-less life would be like. All my other friendships, acquaintanceships and business relations have worked quite well so odds are highly favorable. Thanks, y’all, for putting this discussion out on the netz for me to find.

  49. Raine

    As a young woman (teen) learning about Feminism, immediately ‘getting it’, and feeling so lucky to have this new awareness, seemed like a new world was dawning! But I still longed for a romantic hetero love affair. That WAS my life goal. Looking back on that, I wish I knew then what I know now, some 30 odd years later. Romantic love is a patriarchal fantasy.

  50. Phledge

    Yttik:

    Twisty also speaks of the “initial detonation,” but far too often you’re more like a frog in pot of slowly heated water. You don’t jump out of the pot because you don’t even realize the heat is increasing.

    My water’s getting warmer, and I’ve started peeking over the edge of the Dutch oven. On the one hand, I have sufficient affection for my Nigel to keep me here, and somehow Pandora’s final curse (h/t for awesomesauce, Hermionemone) lets me think that the P will turn off the burner. On the other hand, shit, I’m getting scalded; Nigel can’t stand the word “patriarchy” because it hurts his fee-fees but totally rallies behind the word “kyriarchy.” I can see myself as a gay divorc&eaigu;e (both senses of the word, bi that I am), but I don’t have the courage to hurt his feelings for something the patriarchy is doing to both of us. Now, it occurs to me that the megacorporatheocracy might have their (clearly not obstreperal; antipariahtal, maybe?) lobes blown by Gay Marriage because, dear god, who is the owner and who is the owned?

    Hippolyta, you are setting this joint on fire!

    A radical feminist realizes that all girl children born into this world will be harmed by the patriarchy. There is no inoculation. There is no ameliorating. There is no opting out. There is no escape. Intelligent, curious, adventurous girls will be victimized by the patriarchy and we are ultimately powerless to help them or ourselves.

    Just like in Monster Trucks, I am a not-so-spinster aunt, and watching my nieces grow into pawns of the patriarchy turns my stomach. I do what I can, yet if setting an example is the best way to teach, I’m not quite succeeding in the What Would Tanta Do department wrt adopting a Nigel.

    Oh, my. That was awfully first-person pronoun driven. Sorry, Twisty. The post just hit very close to home and this is the only place I know a group of radfems can kick back with a marg and nod their heads in understanding and solidarity. My sanity depends on IBTP and an SSRI.

  51. Phledge

    Damnit, divorcée. HTML, y u no speak French?

  52. qvaken

    quixote: “The fear of loneliness (and less-money) is the megafactor holding back understanding.”

    Heeyup. And the best part is when that also becomes an attack against women. “I’ll bet that you’re just staying with me because you’re afraid of being alone.” “I think that she was only interested in me because she wanted to have a home to go to.” “I can’t believe that she expected her boyfriend to pay all of the rent. You don’t get things for free just because you’re attractive and you put out for sex. She’s obviously a freeloader and a golddigger.”

    I mean, I think that the relationship-as-exchange-of-goods-and-services isn’t too great an idea, particularly for women because the implication is that her offering will primarily involve her own body and her own physical and financial freedom, and that’s dangerous for her. But supposing that a woman did opt for/resign to this arrangement, then the typical attitude is that she’s doing something selfish and inappropriate.

    yttik: “Women can’t win no matter what alleged “choices” we make.”

  53. quixote

    (qvaken, I’m sure you know what I meant, but just to be clear, I’m talking about that existential fear of finding yourself alone on the savannah without a tree in sight. It’ll make people put up with just about anything, as far as I can see. Men suffer from it too. I’m pretty sure it’s why they’ve constructed the patriarchy as an elaborate fence to protect them. I think they forgot the door, though.)

  54. neko

    This post and these comments hit on something that has been gnawing at me for some time. Our relationships are in sincere need of a revolution.

    No matter how much hormones and peptides swirl clouding the picture of reality, no matter how much we want the pink and lace world of dark chocolatety, heroin like state induced by repeated sex and cuddled afterglow, with promises of love eternal, that really seem totally realistic at the time, the truth always comes to the surface. Our current relationships are built on the patriarchal model that includes control and domination and ownership.
    This model always lead to Dante’s 11th level of Purgatory where you live in fear, doubt, remorse, and the cruelest of all emotions, hope.

    Logic pushes me find another model. A relationship based on strength, joy, and personal sovereignty and not on fear of loneliness, breeding, or financial support.

    Hope is what keeps us stuck in bad situations. Hope is what keeps us trying the impossible even though our own experience has taught us over and over again that in reality it simply does not work. Hope is what keeps us buttressing a system that exploits us while it promises us our rights sometime in the future.
    So the first thing that has to die in a revolution is hope. Kill some today.
    Post-hope living, where you get on with actual action towards liberation, rather than the fantasy of the current “American Dream” that is handed out to us at birth, is actually very cool.

  55. Mildred

    “What happens a lot is that women tend to blame themselves for just about everything. So a feminist will post something like, “Nigel’s can be dangerous,” and women will hear, “I’m bad because I have a Nigel.” Or somebody will point out that PIV carries a great deal of risk and women will hear, “I’m bad if I have PIV..” The truth is we’re all just trying to navigate a rigged system as best we can. That’s the beauty of IBTP, put the blame where it belongs, not on yourself.”

    THIS!
    Yes! Upon discovering radfem I stopped shaving my legs, stopped wearing make up and thrust these things in women’s faces as evidence of my own enlightenment and secretly looked upon their painted faces and plucked-drumsticks with scorn, oh you silly feminine females and all your patriarchy pandering!
    Once again judging other women, once again seeing this compliance as a sign that they weren’t CLEVER enough to see they’re being manipulated. Oh! And then I realised yet again that feminism isn’t about what women are doing, is it? I wasn’t being a feminist, I was just behaving the way I’d been taught to all my life except with a clean face and furry legs.
    I’ve come to learn that wearing make up, presenting yourself in a ‘feminine’ way is not in and of itself bad or wrong, but when you become a feminist its easy to internalise this notion that the party line is ‘anything feminine is bad, anyone who presents this way isn’t feminist’. Its easy to come to these conclusions because we are so fucking used to being judged and feeling doubtful about ourselves, being told that our appearance is wrong in some way. Tts hard, even if you think you’re clever, to realise that for once you’re not being told you’re doing it wrong, the fact that you feel that way AT ALL is wrong!

  56. Laurie

    So true, Mildred. But isn’t it what we’re taught from the beginning: to compete for the slops that the patriarchy tosses us, evaluating other women’s value in that regard? That eternal checklist of “feminine perfection” is almost the soundtrack of the patriarchy, always at work to keep us estranged and in line. But imagine if we stopped criticizing each other and stood up together to wield that whip where it belongs, in the patriarchy’s face.

    In the U.S., this insane GOP war on women is finally getting us mad enough, I think, to do something. It’s a tiny step in the face of a global juggernaut, and it’s ridiculous that it took theocracy-mandated rape-by-ultrasound to get to this point, but women’s issues are being discussed in the public sphere for the first time here in ages. Even though much of the discussion is clueless punditry, some women in the U.S. are starting to stand up to the most egregious invasions.

    In our right-wing/fundamentalist small town, where a fundie megachurch has taken over our city auditorium and most folks are Tea Party/Rush Limbaugh goons, our “FUCK RUSH” signs at our weekly Women Occupy day were met with only two flip-offs and dozens of honks of support (not only from women). Amazing.

    And in Richmond yesterday, these brave women got manhandled and arrested by the cops yesterday — http://www.styleweekly.com/richmond/pro-choice-rally-turns-raucous/Content?oid=1674656 — and despite the bullshit headline, the SILENT protest got “raucous” only when the riot squad appeared. They needed all that tac gear to take down unarmed, nonviolent protesters, I guess.

    IBTP for it all, the cowards. But I dream of multitudes of angry women rioting in the streets.

  57. Le Chat Noir

    I definitely struggle with this sort of thing because I sometimes think of those women as reinforcing the P standards:

    “…secretly looked upon their painted faces and plucked-drumsticks with scorn, oh you silly feminine females and all your patriarchy pandering!”

    I have to remind myself to blame the P instead. And there’s a certain amount of hypocricy involved as well because I’m not always “patriarchy pandering” free. And the P likes to use this sort of thinking to divide and conquer women, in fact I’ve seen men use feminism as a weapon to tell women that they were not living up to feminist standards. Feminism is not supposed to be yet another tool to shame women.

  58. qvaken

    quixote: I’m sorry to confess that I can’t quite wrap my head around that concept at this stage. But having heard it once, I’ll probably start to hear it more and more, and to get a better understanding of it.

  59. Katherine

    The Blaming the P vs Blaming the woman thing, and how that is perceived by women, has been blowing my own lobes recently. I got into a debate about the practice of changing ones name (or not) when getting married. I did not. I tried to explain that this had caused unpleasant consequences with work colleagues and family. A woman – who of course made an absolutely free choice to change her name – took this as a personal insult of her choice and – lo! – a minor flame war erupted. I think what got her goat the most was when I tried to say that patriarchy informs our choices and I don’t blame any woman for compromising with the P. This was deemed patronising, which I think it was a bit.

    Nevertheless, I couldn’t even contemplate getting to the next level of “why am I married again? Oh yeah, because I believed in the concept of respect and partnership within the context of a ritualised joining of two people. Why am I still married, despite the relentless grinding down of my preposterous optimism by the P? Because I love my Nigel, he tries very very hard not exercise his privilege, even in the context of it being handed to him on a platter, to split up would make me very sad, much poorer, and would mess up our daughter even more than she probably already will be”.

    I think dropping that “marriage is the lifelong experience of P, with legal backing” would have caused more than just lobe explosion, for all of us.

  60. Fede

    A woman – who of course made an absolutely free choice to change her name – took this as a personal insult of her choice and – lo! – a minor flame war erupted. I think what got her goat the most was when I tried to say that patriarchy informs our choices and I don’t blame any woman for compromising with the P. This was deemed patronising, which I think it was a bit.

    Of course it was patronising, and so what? What gets my goat is that women will take their barely repressed ire at being made to be the junior partner in their patriarchally sanctioned heterosexual relationships out on feminists.

    If she makes such a preposterous claim – that her taking her husband’s name is a completely free choice – then she bloody well deserves to be patronised. Come on! What absolute twaddle.

    I have nothing but respect for women who make whatever choice from a severely limited handful of more or less rotten options. You choose your battles, and some people deem it not worth the trouble to challenge the name-changing convention. Fine! We are different people with different backgrounds, and changing her name may be less of a compromise to her than, say, faking an orgasm.

    So, other people’s choice to change their name is no less informed or legitimate than my choice to fake an orgasm every now and again! Just so long as they don’t pretend name-changing is not a misogynist practice. Of course it fucking well is, and so is orgasm-faking. I reserve the right to be patronising towards anyone ridiculous enough to call either of those practices politically neutral.

  61. Katherine

    Since she followed up her ire at being patronised with telling me she felt very sorry for me that I couldn’t make choices without feeling social pressure, I didn’t feel terribly charitable towards her claim to have been patronised by me.

    it’s a fairly basic level forum, so I’ve been picking my battles, and commenting to my audience, as it were.

  62. Fede

    Ah, the tried and tested ostrich strategy; if she cannot feel the social pressure, it isn’t there! And then she gets miffed at you for pointing out the obvious. The cognitive dissonance that people are prepared to put up with to keep from having to pull their head out of their arse the sand is simply amazing.

    It’s great that you don’t let their knee-jerking discourage you, Katherine.

  63. Fede

    Heh, ‘the sand’ was supposed to replace ‘their arse’ in my previous comment, there!

  64. Frumious B.

    Women should have some instruction on the symptoms of lobe leakage – you know, like those PSA’s on how to tell if you are having a heart attack. My lobe has blown more than once, and it took years to realize that I had experienced catastrophic personal autonomy failure. I am thinking about taking a Nigel, but I am not sure I am inoculated against CPAF yet. I might need repeated Radical Feminism boosters.

  65. Cyberwulf

    It’s no surprise that some of us wind up sneering at other women for practising femininity. Haven’t we been taught since age one that “boy things” (sports, science, machinery) are serious and worthwhile while “girl things” (tea parties, nail polish, pinkness and sparkliness) are frivolous and shallow?

  66. qvaken

    Cyberwulf: Not to mention “girls are bitchy and boys are upfront”, “daughters are hell to raise so you should hope for sons”, “teenage girls are so emotional and difficult”, and the list goes on.

    Even “feminist” sites and videos against pornography just blame and make fun of the women who appear in porn. Won’t somebody please tell me, what the heck is the point in that?

    IBTP for saturating our lives with anti-woman discourse.

  67. bitch with opinions

    “That eternal checklist of “feminine perfection” is almost the soundtrack of the patriarchy, always at work to keep us estranged and in line. But imagine if we stopped criticizing each other and stood up together to wield that whip where it belongs, in the patriarchy’s face.”

    IBTP gave me the strength to face myself and the compromises I make every morning. I no longer blame myself for wearing makeup or shaving my legs because it makes me a Bad Feminist, but I look myself in the eye and state that the concessions I make are not choices, they are survival.

    I dance on the edge of acceptability by going a little longer than other women on shaving, by wearing no makeup when I’m feeling particularly angry at the P. It’s no revolution, but it’s a minor salve on the eternal scalding shitburn that is being a woman in this fucking craphole of a universe.

    I also refuse to put any woman down, regardless of how much I may personally dislike her, because given the choice, I would toss the entirety of the penis-toting public into an incinerator and go get beers with her on the new Savage Death Island known as Post-Partriarchy Earth.

  68. aphrabean

    @Laurie, This is a bit off-topic, but I’m wondering if by any chance you’re located in Northern California. Sadly, I’m sure there are many cities that fit the parameters you described, but the mega-church take-over of the city auditorium sounds an awful lot like my hometown. (I understand not wanting to answer this question in a public forum!) Even if we don’t share a place of origin, you have all my respect and appreciation for fighting the good fight – just curious about how many towns in America are being taken over by the theocrats!

  69. ARS Poetica

    Digby had some pertinent comments: (http://digbysblog.blogspot.com/2012/03/16-percenters-female-leadership-is.html)

    “Now I’m seeing backsliding on reproductive freedom — and a whole lot of other things, including a sort of misogynistic cruelty I first dealt with when women were trying to break into male dominated jobs in the 1970s…A lot of men hate women in a serious, fundamental way. (And they aren’t all old guys.)…I think the problem is that this is still such an accepted part of male culture that even decent enlightened men (and women) often don’t recognize the milder version when they see it for what it actually is. This worries me. When you look at what’s happening around the globe, it’s very easy to see just how possible it is for women’s rights to backslide.”

  70. xtinA

    Frumious B: “Catstrophic personal autonomy failure”-such a perfect description!

  71. Sharky

    Hiya, Hoya! I am blaming in London, England, and always happy to blame with others in a cocktail-based venue. I think there are other London blamers as well — when there was a forum, they met up a couple of times.

  72. Doctress Ju'ulia

    Mildred, and all of y’all: I’m in Wisconsin. I also long for a hug from a radfem… it is lonely in the P. No money, no job, no home. I pretty much have nothing left to lose. Having even one female friend (more’d be better) that I could see in my meatspace life would be so good, and so precious to me. I keep thinking that I put other women off; make them uncomfortable (hyperactive, PTSD, very talkative, opinionated). So, they avoid me. I have no friends. I blame the P.

  73. Keri

    Bitch with opinions:

    Dancing on the edge of acceptability: It doesn’t even matter if you decide to blow off the patriarchal compliant beauty regiment or dress as a freaking clown as doods will just continue to be creepy a-holes and bother you. The other night I was enjoying some bad karaoke with a friend and some dood decided to tell me how he really really likes “plain Jane” types like me (I was in workout gear, no make-up, a ponytail and hadn’t bothered to shower). He also said. “You’re beautiful, doesn’t anyone ever tell you that?”

    That made me laugh so hard some vodka cran came out my nose. Geez dood, here I was enjoying my beverage just waiting for you to come and tell me your doodly opinion of me as a wall flower. We can’t win, we can’t be left alone, we try to be non-compliant and it still draws attention. IBTP. How I long for Savage Death Island where a lady can have a cocktail in peace.

  74. caol

    That happened to me with my ex girlfriend. She was as abusive as men usually are. I’m not sure about what i’m going to say, but, it seemed like in her mind, being a lesbian was a step closer (only for her) to male privilege. She used to treat women (including myself) like fuck-holes.
    Now, years after, i can’t believe how it took me so much time to dump her. I can’t believe how wrong she was about her own position as a woman in the patriarchy, especially being a lesbian.

    She was also racist, classist and LOVED porn. She was your typical misogynist Mike (maybe a little less obvious on a daily basis), only in the shape of a woman. I’m glad we’re not together anymore.

    Sorry for my english, i know it’s not very good.

  75. FemmeForever

    Doc Ju’ulia, I really feel ya soooo hard. Wish I could help but I’m nowhere near WI.

  76. Katherine

    Sharky, alas I was once a London based blamer, but am not a Leeds based blamer. The Leeds feminist network is radfem-ish though. And I think, though I have no personal experience of it, that the London one is likewise.

  77. quixote

    Doctress Ju’ulia, you must not be in Madison. Some parts of WI are a mental / emotional Sahara. I don’t have any useful suggestions. When I was in what I’ve ever after called The Dreadful Flat Place, my only solution was to get the hell out. Hang in there. Keep commenting.

  78. Fictional Queen

    Your English is great, caol!

  79. Mildred

    @ caol
    I thought about this when the women as rapists thing came up but I didn’t want to mention it because I thought it anecdotal. I’ve only met one woman like this and I just got that ‘rapist vibe’ that you sometimes get off men. Not the ignorant entitled kind of rape, the full blown predatory variety. It seems to come off a series of conditions like watching a lot of gonzo porn, possibly some childhood abuse, and this cold sense that women are weak and inferior and exploitable. There are plenty of young, confused and vulnerable women around who can’t call on their families for support and these are their girlfriends/victims. I really think porn plays a huge role here, and it really goes to show how much of this is conditioned not biologically innate. Yeah, females are conditioned to be defenceless, meek and compliant but I do believe, especially in places where there’s generations of abuse, whole families who have never had jobs there’s no stake in following the status quo its entirely possible for predators to emerge. This may seem anecdotal but if anything I think it shows how much women are socialised to be victims and men to be the perps that it has to take a massive perturbation for it to be any other way. But I sense a shift, for hatred towards women seems at an all time high, not only men towards women but women towards women, then add to that the proliferation of internet porn.

    Ariel Levy kind of touched on it in Female Chauvinist Pigs when she spoke of boi culture in the lesbian community but I don’t think she took it far enough because the logical conclusion to when you have a group of women who no longer identify as women and indulge in the most dehumanising aspects of sexxxay culture then you’re going to get entitlement and you’re going to get rape too.
    Then if you get women watching lots of porn who are victims of abuse themselves they’re probably less likely to identify what happened to them as abuse.
    I think some of the 20something year old blamers know what I’m talking about here. I know plenty of young women who watch a lot of internet porn and see nothing wrong with any of it.

  80. Mildred

    @ Doctress Ju’ulia

    I honestly wish that feminism just meant women being really kind to one another. Just being really lovely and baking cakes for one another with “YOU’RE AWESOME” spelled out in frosted pink icing and a fuckin’ cherry on top. I wish it meant when you saw a lady who looked a bit brow beaten you could say HEY LADY! You look like you need a hug! And that’d be cool because we’re feminist women and we just have this understanding between us. I wish it meant giving a stranger a place to crash while she disentangles herself from her Nigel. I wish it meant we have an imperfect utopia for you to live in now that you’re free. I wish it meant that we were funny ladies that everyone wanted to hang around. I wish we had our own schools that taught our kids the truth. I wish it meant that if we don’t like the media, that’s okay too, we got our own magazines, newspapers, movies, tv shows you can choose from instead! I wish it meant that if you didn’t like fashion or clothes you could join a feminist sewing club where you can learn how to make any clothes you like. I wish it meant we listened to one another and never said that we were overreacting or exhibiting a victim mentality, I wish that we never judged each other and therefore never felt judged. I just wish that being feminists just meant being ridiculously nice to women.
    That’d cover it for me, personally.

  81. Tata

    An idle thought: I’d forgotten how lush and gorgeous your photographs of food always were. Thank you for the reminder.

  82. Swanhilde

    Keri
    March 7, 2012 at 9:42 am (UTC -6)
    Bitch with opinions:

    Dancing on the edge of acceptability: It doesn’t even matter if you decide to blow off the patriarchal compliant beauty regiment or dress as a freaking clown as doods will just continue to be creepy a-holes and bother you. The other night I was enjoying some bad karaoke with a friend and some dood decided to tell me how he really really likes “plain Jane” types like me (I was in workout gear, no make-up, a ponytail and hadn’t bothered to shower). He also said. “You’re beautiful, doesn’t anyone ever tell you that?”

    THIS! omigod Keri, thanks so much!
    I am feminine beauty-compliant (is that how you say it? still learning, but studying hard). The only things I don’t do is wear high heels most of the time (I live in nyc and have to walk everywhere) and paint my nails. The reason I exercise is so that I can “look good” naked. I know that I am participating in my own oppression, and it makes me cringe inside. I hate it.

    But you know what? When I had short hair, men told me that it was not sexy, or that I should be proud “not to base my femininity on my hair.” (that is a true quote) When I have the flu or stay home one day and don’t wear makeup, guys say they like my “all-natural” look. When I wear a bra without padding (I have small breasts), they say they love small or perky boobs (or mock them for being small). This guy I was dating loooooved it when I wore a short skirt around the house (it did NOT show my ass when I bent over, promise), but when I wore it out in public, he said that I looked “like a hooker!” Then he was angry with me when I was offended!

    You are right! You are right! No matter what you do, you are assessed and judged on how you look, and men feel ENTITLED to tell you what they think! IBTP!!!!

  83. Jen

    Fede said, “If she makes such a preposterous claim – that her taking her husband’s name is a completely free choice – then she bloody well deserves to be patronised. Come on! What absolute twaddle.”

    I’ve been thinking about the issue of naming, and the name pickle in which many feminists find themselves at one point or another.

    If I marry a man, the P provides the option to take his last name or keep the one I have now. Of course the one I have now was assigned to me based on the name of my father, a person I do not respect. If I respect the man I marry more than I respect my father, perhaps it would be better to take my husband’s name.

    If I do not want to take (or keep) the name from either of these men, another option would be to take my mother’s “maiden name.” (Let’s all take a moment to reflect on that disgusting term…and done.) But of course, that would actually just be her father’s last name. There is no name I can take that does not come from a man.

    Perhaps the only answer is to choose a name for myself. My mind rolls backward on stone wheels through images of mothers and grandmothers to Lucy, the Australopithecus.

    Jennifer Lucy has a nice ring to it. Unfortunately, perhaps this name is also spoiled, considering Lucy was discovered by a man and named by men, after a song written by men. Besides, if I had a daughter and gave her the name, the boys in her school might just call her “loose-y.” IBTP

  84. Jezebella

    My response to that is: the name you were given is YOUR name, regardless of its origin. I mean, my brother’s last name is no more *his* name because he’s male, and mine is no less because I’m female. The name you are born with is *your name,* period. If you hate it, change it, but I absolutely reject the notion that my last name isn’t mine because it came from my father. You don’t hear men going, “Well, my last name isn’t really mine, it’s my dad’s name, so big whoop, I’ll go ahead and change it when I get married. It wasn’t mine to begin with.” Right?

  85. TA

    @stickypaws – I don’t know who originally recommended the Bancroft book “Why does he do that?” but I took your recommendation last week and HOLY SHIT. My whole life changed, just like that.

    It’s like getting the power to spot vampires anywhere, anytime. I think every woman should read that book.

    Thanks for turning me on to it.

  86. Annie

    “My Nigels” and the beauty imperative.

    From The Beheld: I don’t want to be trophy Barbie, and our relationship isn’t structured that way, but then I don’t want to make every act we do as a couple to be about Our Deep Beliefs. Sometimes I just wanna look pretty, and though I think my guy would rather die before admitting this, I suspect sometimes he really just likes having a pretty lady on his arm, even though that’s not at all the real value I represent to him. We play it off in a vaguely kitschy sort of way but there’s also a statement underneath about the roles we fill together.

    http://www.the-beheld.com/2011/12/is-it-appropriate-to-outsource.html

  87. Fictional Queen

    Good post but she seems too apologetic about her opinions. That’s why the only feminist blog I read is IBTP!

  88. Jen

    Jezebella, I wish I could think about it that way.

    I think of my first name as being “mine,” since it was given to just me (and a million other babies born around the same time), but I think of my last name as a family name.

    That the family name is passed from the father to the offspring is a basic tenet of Western patriarchy (with some exceptions, where the last names of both parents are passed to the children). The implication is that the children are property of the father (as is the wife, of course, since she also takes his name).

    Patrilineality bothers me. What I was complaining about above is that it seems to be the only option available, besides choosing my own name.

  89. little earthquakes

    Jen: I’ve struggled with this as well, and decided upon changing and choosing my own name, only to discover that in my country (Australia) you can’t legally do that if you have any sort of financial debt referred to credit agencies, even if it’s basically an insignificant amount. As a woman livin’ in the P, with psychiatric disabilities of the kind inflicted by the P, I can’t just make those debts go away, so the name has to stay and doesn’t that just burrrrrrn.

    If you can do it, do it. There’s feminist activism and then there are feminist acts, y’know? Both are needed.

  90. Darragh Murphy

    Jen, the only way to stop patrilineal naming is to get the ball rolling with matrilineal naming.

    I didn’t change my name when I got married (of course), but as you point out, my last name is my father’s (and his father’s and his father’s etc) name. But, as Jezebella says, whatevs, from my perspective Murphy is MY name.

    That’s step one. Step 2 is more important. When you have children (having children being the default way to pass on your name to future generations, so if you’re not having kids ignore this, but then I would have to wonder why anyone would get married if not for the financial protections etc with regard to children), your first born gets YOUR last name. Your second born (if you have one) gets his. 3rd gets yours, 4th his (Not that I would ever advocate that many children but hey it’s up to you). If you only have 1 child, it’s YOUR name that gets passed on. Ha. No negotiation.

    You tell your children why you did what you did and how important it is to keep your name always AND to pass it on if you have children. I have 3 daughters and only a sister who changed her name a couple times so it was extra important to me. All of my girls will keep their own names if (a big IF i hope) they get married AND they will pass on their own (and MY) names if they have children.

    That’s what I did and to any beginner blamers who worry about oh but what will the neighbors say? How will anyone know that we’re all the same family?? it honestly has never come up. No messy hyphens, no different rules for girls and boys, and also not that stupid stranded situation that women who didnt change their names but blindly gave the kids HIS name end up in where she’s stuck there on Odd Name Out Island, which invariably leads to her going ahead and changing her name to his post kids.

    It’s surprising how unpopular my scheme is whenever I try to explain it. But it makes my girls and me happy. I am definitely looking forward to a grandchild someday who’s named after me, first AND last names.

  91. stacey

    Darragh, that rocks. Full props.

    The deal I made with Nigel (whose name I did not take) was that girls will get my last name, boys will get his. Alas, we only had the one boy child, so he’s stuck with Nigel’s name, but it was so nice for the three days he was identified with my last name in hospital.

    Apropos of this discussion, I was reading up on matrilineal naming systems; they’re mostly Scandinavian in origin, and the children take the mother’s first name as a last name only in cases of there being a “strong” woman (old family, tradition in the family) or that the father isn’t identified. More regularly, girls and boys are named with their father’s first name and the appropriate diminutive (-son, -dottir, -ovich, -ova, -enko, -enka etc.) Curiously, there’s no English equivalent of “-son.”

    Although it would be neat to have a daughter named Hername Stacita, and a son named Hisname Staceyson, I’m actually pretty okay with my inherited/dad’s last name. There were some kick-ass women among my ancestry, and it’s shared with my awesome radfem aunt. I can always matriname the cats.

  92. stacey

    BTW, I am in no way an expert in Scandinavian or Slavic naming systems. It’s just what I gleaned from a half-hour’s browsing this morning. There may be many variations that I don’t know about. And, for no English equivalent of -son, IBTP.

  93. Mildred

    I chose our last name. Nigel never knew his father. I was never too fussed on my own boring name. I said Wolf, Wolves are cool, right? Let’s be the Wolves.
    If we ever have kids I’ll pick them whole names, whole new names that I think will fit harmoniously with their first names. Why not?

  94. IrishUp

    “Women are conditioned to stay in relationships way after the initial detonation, often soldiering on until their lobes are just festering, shredded bags of pus. ”

    Antidepressants and antihypertensives here to keep my festering lobes from killing me until I can getthefuckoutoutout. P: bringing you better living compliance through chemistry.

    The conversations regarding choice in this thread have helped me give the thing a name. In behavior mod, it’s called “choice amongst lack of alternatives” – I’ve dubbed it the Toddler Method. You want to direct behavior in a particular direction AND you want the person to internalize the desired decision-making strategy. So you set up a generally small number of acceptable choices. Unacceptable choices have attached to them deeply unpleasant/noxious/undesirable consequences – this is the “lack of alternatives” part.

    The mechanism itself isn’t bad. It’s a great way to teach your 2yo to choose weather-appropriate clothing, as a for instance, without winding up being an authoritarian shit or being late for school. As applied by P, it perpetuates marrying a Nigel (eg). You can choose whether to keep your name or pass it on to progeny, but your lack of alternatives is institutionalized in things like .70c on the dollar wages, housing discrimination and societal disapprobation.

  95. IrishUp

    Ugh, still can’t close right. Here is what I meant without the html fail.

    The conversations regarding choice in this thread have helped me give the thing a name. In behavior mod, it’s called “choice amongst lack of alternatives” – I’ve dubbed it the Toddler Method. You want to direct behavior in a particular direction AND you want the person to internalize the desired decision-making strategy. So you set up a generally small number of acceptable choices. Unacceptable choices have attached to them deeply unpleasant/noxious/undesirable consequences – this is the “lack of alternatives” part.

    The mechanism itself isn’t bad. It’s a great way to teach your 2yo to choose weather-appropriate clothing, as a for instance, without winding up being an authoritarian shit or being late for school. As applied by P, it perpetuates marrying a Nigel (eg). You can choose whether to keep your name or pass it on to progeny, but your lack of alternatives is institutionalized in things like .70c on the dollar wages, housing discrimination and societal disapprobation.

  96. Hari

    When I married nigel #1, I talked him into choosing with me a new last name. My idea was to choose a word from another language, which sounded good and also had a meaning we approved. We both took this surname and gave it also to our 2 daughters. When we divorced, he went back to his father’s name, my girls and I kept the chosen family name. My kid #3 never knew his dad, he also got my surname. With nigel #2, we each kept our own surnames, and named our 1st kid after both of us–no hyphen, the two names were short enough, and sounded good enough as one last name. When we had a daughter, I insisted she be named after me–I just didn’t like the joined name of our son. Nigel protested, but I said “several thousand yrs of naming kids after their fathers is enough. Time for a bunch of kids to get their mother’s surname, and mine is unique”. He went along. Last boy’s biodad was also a runner–no arguments over whose name he got.

    My oldest daughter took her nigel’s name…but after they broke up and she found nigel #2, she insisted on going back to her/my surname, and talked him into it, too. 2nd daughter took her nigel’s surname, given also to their 2 kids. Oldest son and wife chose their own mutual surname. 2nd son ditched the part of his surname attached to me, and kept his dad’s name–which is Smith. Boring! But whatever, he’s a man and can do as he pleases. The youngest two have so far stuck with their given (my) surname.

    I will never understand why womyn take their nigel’s name, and give it also to their kids (I mean, I do get it–and I totally don’t, as well). I love Mildred’s idea of giving each child a complete name of their own. However, I wasn’t quite that evolved when I was having kids, and also had visions of a matri-dynasty in my chosen name! Now, I just hope that the rest of my kids, and their kids, will either stick with my name, or create their own for marriage/kids. I didn’t argue with my eldest daughters about taking their nigel’s names–but if my youngest daughter marries/has kids, it’s an argument we will have, if needed! Indigenous peoples had it right in this way. Names have power, and each person deserves their own expression of personal magic. And the idea of children as property, labelled by a parent’s name, is just so wrong. These things in one way are small–but they do matter.

  97. Mildred

    You know… if there’s one thing that irks me its the tradition of accepting your nigel’s name and naming your children after them, the fact that its just done as default. It annoys me that this is still a cultural practice. It doesn’t keep me up at night, but it would be such a simple little thing for women to eliminate as a cultural practice within my lifetime, but we don’t even question it! Its not cute or fun, and its so old timey like girdles and douches!
    A friend of mine has been co-habiting with a Nigel for 7 years, they recently had a child, guess whose name is on that birth certificate? Just like that!
    Did you know that when you get married your name does not change automatically? You have to actually pay extra for it, they just bundle it in with the price of the marriage documents, but you can ask specifically to have it dropped.

  98. susanw

    Little Earthquakes:
    “Jen: I’ve struggled with this as well, and decided upon changing and choosing my own name, only to discover that in my country (Australia) you can’t legally do that if you have any sort of financial debt referred to credit agencies, even if it’s basically an insignificant amount.”

    Does that mean women with debt can’t change their names when they marry ?

  99. little earthquakes

    susanw: don’t know for sure, but I’d bet it’s not an issue in case of marriage. Y’know, you’re not allowed to change your name unless you’re handing yourself over to a dude as property.

  100. Katherine

    Eh, my daughter’s hyphenated, and half the time institutions drop the first one of the hyphen (mine), and stick with the second one (his). Looking back I should have had her have my name. I guess I didn’t expect that level of patriarchal kick-back. Stupid.

    What has surprised me (again, stupid) is the number of women I know who either kept their name when they got married or never got married at all, and yet their children have their father’s mame. Without exception. It’s all in the context of wider oppression, but damn it irks me.

  101. Nolabelfits

    Katherine,

    Mine have his name although I kept my own. My reasoning was that I didn’t want any pushback if I ever had to hit him up for child support. I know damn well those kids are mine but identifying paternity is more difficult on accounta how dudes can just up and leave anytime they want.

  102. Rididill

    Stacey, there is an English equivalent of ‘son’. It’s ‘son’. Haven’t you ever wondered where names like ‘Johnson’ and ‘Morrison’ come from? Son of John, son of Morris. etc.

  103. stacey

    Rididill, I meant that there’s no “-daughter” equivalent for “-son”. So that we could have daughter of John, daughter of Morris, etc.

    I’d choose a matronym, personally; my mom’s family tends to have dominant women. My name would be Stacey Tinadaughter, in that case.

  104. nails

    I’ve heard “claiborne” is a name that is derived from a matriachal framework, like “born of clair”. Not sure how true that is, but it might be a good way to circumvent patriarchal names if you want to.

  105. Katherine

    Nolabelfits, I don’t deny that there may well be good reasons for that (are you talking from US experience though? I’m pretty sure the scenario you are describing wouldn’t be the same issue in the UK) – your reasons are within the context of wider oppression though, right? Same as with surnames.

    The people I know haven’t named their children after the father for the reasons you have. They have done so for other reasons, all of which are patriachally informed. That irks me, even while I might understand their reasoning.

  106. Nolabelfits

    Of course my reasons are within a context of wider oppression. I would love to live in a world where I wouldn’t have to worry how to support my children independant of their father. The game is rigged.

    I am irked when women hyphenate their names. Its just a big advertisement of marriage, so people can pigeonhole you based on your legal relationship status and treat you accordingly. Also, it seems like the men never hyphenate.

  107. Friend of Snakes

    “I am irked when women hyphenate their names. Its just a big advertisement of marriage, so people can pigeonhole you based on your legal relationship status and treat you accordingly. Also, it seems like the men never hyphenate.”

    What about women in relationships (married or not) with other women? Or gay men for that matter who adopt children? Plenty of hyphenating going on, especially since the 1970′s. There’s no easy answer, for sure. But when I see children dragging along those oftentimes awkward looking combined names (assuming they’re not some of those whacky Brits, of course), my first thought is that they have parents who have been struggling for parity in all aspects of their relationships. Hope spring eternal!

  108. nails

    The two last names thing is totally normal in some cultures. It is extremely common in Mexico, for instance.

  109. Cootie Twoshoes

    Whoa, nails, thanks for the explanation of “Claiborne.” Even if it isn’t a historical practice, I finally have a way to think about what to change my last name to. Patrilineal surnames are such an unquestioned means of control, mine makes me feel pretty queasy. I would never voluntarily adopt a man’s name as a part of this tradition, so why should I keep my father’s? When faced with coming up with a new surname, though, I’ve always felt daunted. Not no mo!

  110. Jezebella

    Nolabelfits, as nails noted, the traditional form of naming children in Spanish is a double last name (mother’s plus father’s). This is common in both Europe and the Americas, so you may want to lay off being irked at women who have double last names, because they may not be married. Perhaps their parents were married, which they can’t very well help.

    There may be other languages where this is common, and I know several children of hyphenated couples who bear their parents’ hyphenated names. The times, they are a’changin’. Don’t be so irked, eh?

  111. Nolabelfits

    Jezebella, I am well aware of that custom in Spain, however it is not the custom here.

    I know of children who have hyphenated last names, but every woman I know with a hyphenated name has a husband whose name is not hyphenated. No big surprise there.

    So what happens when two kids with hyphenated names grow up and get married? Mary Elaine Edwards-Johnson marries Robert David Beale-Hanson. Maybe they take the Edwards and the Beale and both become Edwards-Beale. Then what about the parent who wanted to pass on the Johnson or Hanson name? Kinda defeats the whole idea of passing on the name in one generation. I think even in Spain, in this situation its the patrilineal names from both parties that are kept upon marriage, combined to make a new hyphenated name. Someone correct me if I’m wrong on that.

    I don’t understand why people feel it so necessary to have the same names just because they are in one family. But then, I’m at odds with society in general.

  112. Rididill

    @stacey – oops sorry, misunderstood!

    Re: hispanic tradition of two names. From a limited sample of one Spanish friend and one Puerto Rican boyfriend, the mother’s name is of less importance and often doesn’t really count in official settings. The father’s name comes before the mother’s name, and this is the name that is generally used, rather than combining both as one name. This is the result of them having to integrate with an Anglo system which does not recognize two surnames, according to wikipedia. The wikipedia article is slightly confusing – it seems that in Spain, women do not change their names when they marry, and children receive the (male) part of the last name from both their mother and father. This is different in Latin American countries.

    So, it might be slightly more equal, but it is still the maternal grandfathers’ name that the child gets, which will be then erased when they have children. Women’s surnames only get passed down one generation before they disappear, and then it is only because they originally came from a man.

    The article is here:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Married_and_maiden_names#Spanish-speaking_world

  113. Katherine

    I agree with you Nolabelfits that most women I know who have hyphenated don’t have hyphenated husbands. That definitely irks me. It’s like, they’ve gone half way to meet in the middle, but their Nigel hasn’t bothered. Quelle surprise. I too don’t share the drive to have a single family name – everyone in my little nuclear group (ugh) has a different surname.

    My daughter is hyphenated – with both mine and my Nigel’s surnames, and I hope people in the future won’t assume she is hyphenated because she has got married, although I’ll understand how they might.

    As to what she’ll do if she ever comes to be married and have kids, well, honestly, I don’t know. It’s new territory, y’know? I’m rather hoping for a general encouragement over time of a more equitable arrangement, whatever that arrangement turns out to be.

  114. nails

    Hey I was wondering why women don’t claim the middle name instead of using a hyphen? The middle name could be the last name of the mother.

  115. Jezebella

    That was, once upon a time, my plan should I ever choose to reproduce. I mean, what else is that middle name *for*, right?

  116. Laura

    What I’ve long thought would be cool is if the woman took her mother’s birth name into her marriage, and the man took his father’s name, and both of them and the kids if any all had those same two last names. Then when the kids grow up and have families of their own, the girls take the part of their name that came from their mother, and the boys the part that came from their father, to join to the part of their partner’s last name that came from the same-sex parent. Then you develop both a matrilinear line and a patrilinear line. I mentioned that idea to a friend who had done a lot of genealogical research and he loved the idea, because after he’d gone back a few generations all of the records seem to focus on the men, and there was a lot of “and wife” that he could never take back any further.

  117. ThinkAgain

    Back in ’91 my fiance came up with the idea that perhaps we could BOTH choose a NEW last name, together, and both use this after marriage. We decided to search our familly histories for names and stories we liked, and ultimately chose a name of one of our great grandparents to whom we felt a philosophical connection.

    Since we were married in Massachusetts, the marriage license form is gender-neutral, and simply had a blank space for “Name before marriage” and a space for “Name after marriage.” It was quite simple to change both of our birth names to the same new last name afterward.

    Not so simple to explain it to our families, however. And the Social Security office. But it all worked out. Our children have the same ‘new’ last name, too, of course.

  118. wendy house

    I’m so happy being single. It’s almost embarressing, I almost feel the need to apologise for beig happy as-if there’s something wrong with me. ALMOST. :-)

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