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Mar 15 2012

Le sacre du printemps

Chrysanthemum stamen
___________
Lyrical abstract expressionist painting? Hell no! It’s a chrysanthemum stamen magnified 50 times!

Perceptive readers will have percepted that it’s gettin to be spring again. At Spinster HQ, this development can mean only one thing: get the fuck outside, chump! Which is exactly what I have done. Instead of assiduously poring over horrible news about this and that and the infinitous abyss that is the War on the Sex Class, I’ve been flitting about the countryside squinting at stuff. The purling stream, the margin green, with flowers bedeck’d, a vernal scene, etc. La di da.

AntherGetting the fuck outside isn’t for everyone, of course, but the realm of bugs and lizards and manure-pile funguses is the one dimension where a fully-loaded spinster aunt can more or less live life with the fewest incursions of slutquakes, peens, baby-soft skin, Boing-Boing, acts of Congress, and other dudeliocentricities. This year I am excited to be wielding a compact wireless microscope that sends blurry-ass images straight to the iPhone, so miniscule flora and fauna can be spied on right in the field (also, it’s great for entertaining kids in restaurants. “Check out the caterpillar in this salad!”). Observe, to the left, another bit of floral anatomy, an anther from a purple wild flower so tiny it isn’t even in the field guide. This shit really sends me, mang. Sci-fi nerds have yet to imagine the containment field that could restrain my exuberance over this iPhone microscope development.

Exuberance, as the poet said, is beauty.

La di da.

ArugulaAnyway, because there are, today alone, about 371 more purple things I have to look at with this new microscrope, I am more disinclined than usual to vituperate with curled lip on the subject of politics and oppression. So I thought I’d cop out, blog-wise, and initiate another open thread. Let the embloviations begin.

Left: heartwarming arugula flower petal, magnified 200 times.

400 comments

  1. Laura

    You remind me that I was going to look up “Spring is like a perhaps hand” and send it to my daughter, with a little excursion about e.e. cummings. Am now doing so.

    My mother also waxed poetic in the spring, when I was a little girl:

    Spring has sprung.
    The grass has riz.
    I wonder where
    Them flowers is.

  2. Friend of Snakes

    Girlfriend, it sounds like you’ve got sexy time on the brain. Sure, that’s extra normal in the springtime, even for us estrogen deprived life-forms. But I’m worried about this seeming obsession with male anatomy. Stamens? Anthers? What’s next? Photos of showers of pollen?

  3. AlienNumber

    In the spirit of the Rorschach test: the first pic’s left corner, that protuberance, looks like a tiny peen head to me; the second pic: that thing looks like a purple bean with a slit in the middle, and the third picture, well, that dark green on the yellow looks like veins.
    Did you do this on purpose, Twisty? Or maybe I just have sex on my mind. It’s spring!

  4. Jen

    Hey, Twisty, how about a side of haiku to go along with your springtime flower-gazing and artful micro-photos?

    From the three masters:

    Basho

    A bee
    staggers out
    of the peony.

    The crane’s legs
    have gotten shorter
    in the spring rain.

    Buson

    The short night—
    on the hairy caterpillar
    beads of dew.

    Issa

    Don’t kill that fly!
    look—it’s wringing its hands,
    wringing its feet.

    What a strange thing!
    to be alive
    beneath cherry blossoms.

    Under my house
    an inchworm
    measuring the joists.

  5. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    Hey, it’s Spring in these usually still-frosty environs too! The buzzards returned to Hinckley, OH early this morning – the first one was spotted at 7:44 a.m. And they still got the date right, leap year be damned. We’ll probably attend the pancake breakfast in the Church that Smells like Winos out there this Sunday.

  6. Patience Myass

    It’s raining here in Northern CA this week, knocking the blossoms off all the trees that bloomed prematurely. I wonder which fruit or nut will be extra-expensive this year. It’s always something! And for once, I can blame weather instead of the patriarchy.

  7. Owly

    I’m going to Lost Maples tomorrow. I’m so excited about taking pictures of the heart-warming nature!

  8. Ruby Lou

    See, this is how she brings it. On a day when any random standup right-thinking radfem might be tempted to feel discouragement from the reactionary forces of the sinister global godbag conspiracy (whose latest shenanigan in the U.S. Congress is to obstruct the Violence Against Women Act, for all the predictably stupid reasons), Twisty posts glowing fresh images of irrepressibly beautiful life on earth, captured by and transmitted to an iPhone by a handheld wireless microscope ! ! ! ! So now we can get up close and personal images of our gorgeous tiny relatives right in their own living rooms, without ruining their lives. Twisty, you have beyond any doubt the greatest taste in toys ever. Keep em coming

  9. stacey

    I keep thinking the phrase “tulip ‘twixt my toes” from Bloom County when it’s spring. I’m happy about all-purple day; can we have an all-red one too?

  10. B. Dagger Lee

    From Basho:

    Naked!
    On a horse
    In the rain!

    Possibly better in fantasy than reality.
    I guess it depends on the temperature.
    And the gait.

  11. Twisty

    To those of you who are concerned with the sexiness of the photos, I would remind you that it is impossible to photograph any flower without some amount of sex involved, since flowers are after all the sex organs of plants.

    As for the maleness of stamens and anthers, I wouldn’t read too much patriarchy into it; there are about 6753 different flower genders, and plants are lucky enough to exist outside the dudeliocentric matrix, so they can enjoy all the free-wheelin’ politically-neutral sex that funfeminists like to say they’re having.

    That’s a joke! Nobody hates the anthrocentric interpretation of non-human functions more than I do!

    Finally, I would read even less into my apparent choice of male subject matter. The iPhone/microscope combo is pretty unwieldy at magnifications higher than 10X, and I’m no expert micro-photographer, so I am forced to use whatever happens to be more or less in focus when I snap the capture button. It’s entirely random.

  12. Twisty

    Possibly better in fantasy than reality.
    I guess it depends on the temperature.
    And the gait.

    And whether you’re going bareback or not. Because horse hair up the wazoo? I’ll pass. It’s bad enough when it sticks to your knees.

  13. yttik

    “As for the maleness of stamens”

    Well, the words “magnified 50 times” do pretty much sum up maleness under the patriarchy.

  14. Twisty

    I hope you find those maples, Owly. After you do, there’s a lost canyon at the corner of Lamar and Barton Springs that needs finding, too.

  15. someonered

    Just the idea of a compact wireless microscope makes me happy. Even nicer to actually see some blamer pics with such a contraption. Excellent. However blurry ass though they may be, they’re still pretty excellent.

  16. Owly

    I believe I have found said lost canyon. It should be named Owly Canyon now.

  17. c2t2

    Yay! A radfem open thread! So serendipitous when I am inspired by reading scifi*.

    My mini-essay:

    Artificial Intelligence: computer programs becoming self-aware.

    In light of current events, every woman knows precisely what a sci-fi robot or computer program feels when it becomes sapient.

    It is inescapable. Our minds, our personalities, and our existence as people is an unwanted and undesirable accident of a machine that learned too much.

    In patriarchy, a woman has three purposes. Her primary purpose is as a man-replicator. We exist to create more men. Our secondary purpose is as men’s masturbatory aids. Our tertiary purpose is to create more of ourselves for men’s use.

    The meat around these parts is a life support system for the uterus. The orifices are convenient. Our minds, to patriarchy, exist only to maintain and care for the parts that have purpose. Imagine their horror when we assert otherwise.

    Some of our unwanted mental capacity has been siphoned off by the patriarchy for use in domestic slavery, childrearing, and low-cost therapist/punching bag. Due to recent events, it is clear I am not a person, but a set of reproductive organs that that learned too much, and now it thinks it’s people.

    Patriarchy: A system in which sci-fi computers are more human than real-life men.

    *If only I were priveleged enough to access a phone, microscope, or place to nature-spy. Alas, reading is all I have for now.

  18. c2t2

    Holy crap! I swear the grammar wasn’t that bad when I posted. My profuse apologies. Hopefully, the idea still stands.

  19. Kea

    Some perceptive readers are quite certain it is actually autumn. Enjoy your spring, though.

  20. Lidon

    “Don’t kill that fly!
    look—it’s wringing its hands,
    wringing its feet.”

    It is cute when they do that, assuming it’s just one. Anyway, YES! To the outdoors! That’s what I miss the most about living in Colorado, there was so much beautiful damn nature everywhere. I just gotta try harder to find it where I am now. But it’s worth it.

  21. slashy

    I need a wireless microscope that takes photographs more than I have ever needed any other engaging gimicky toy-of-the-future! My existing macro-lens obsession, with all of the busy-body prying into the private lives of whatever unlucky bug stumbles across my field of vision, just discovered a whole new horizon of joy.

    My 8 year old niece got a microscope for Christmas and has been singing it’s praises to me over the phone ever since (my heart swells big for budding nerd-dom). Just IMAGINE the fun this spinster aunt/niece duo could have traipsing about the backyard examining life at 50x magnification!

  22. speedbudget

    My most favorite springtime poem evar:

    in Just-
    spring when the world is mud-
    luscious the little
    lame balloonman

    whistles far and wee

    and eddieandbill come
    running from marbles and
    piracies and it’s
    spring

    when the world is puddle-wonderful

    the queer
    old balloonman whistles
    far and wee
    and bettyandisable come dancing

    from hop-scotch and jump-rope and

    it’s
    spring
    and

    the

    goat-footed

    balloonMan whistles
    far
    and
    wee

  23. buttercup

    Gov Goodhair done got medicaid defunded in texas. Those who live there-what do you think will happen now? Will he recant? Will the electorate rise up in fury? Will Obama get blamed?

    In happier news, the Decorah eagles have three eggs in the nest again.

  24. Twisty

    Oh no! I’m a goddam Northern Hemispherist! I always forget that thing about the seasons being switched. And the toilets flushing the other way.

    As for Rick Perry, I wish someone would stick a probe up that dick’s peen every time a woman comes within 30 feet of him. Exclusive of Austin, where many people — save the state lege — appear to actually posses cerebral cortexes, Texas, politically speaking, is an amoral wasteland of bigotry and godbaggery. They enjoy executions and the suffering of the poor. It sucks to be a woman in Texas. I invite the Nude Revolutionaries to come on down here and make a difference!

  25. buttercup

    Nude in Tx with THOSE fire ants and no medicaid? Not on your tintype.

  26. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    The only place it *doesn’t* suck to be a woman is Savage Death Island, and we ain’t there (yet).

  27. Lovepug

    I’m pretty sure if it was springtime in the Delta Quadrant, Janeway and Torres would be off doing the same thing. Only with Tricorders.

  28. tinfoil hattie

    Not on your tintype.

    Music Man reference!

    Hooray for spring over here

    And for fall over there

    My two favorite seasons. I have been inspired to go photograph my camellia in all its blooming glory before the rains come and knock off the blossoms. It’s a very old, very tall camellia japonica with the most beautiful pink blossoms. I believe it must have been planted here shortly after the camellia blight of the 70s ’round these parts (VA).

    Anyway, we moved into this house in 1995 and I have always loved my camellia. This year it started blooming in February!

  29. AlienNumber

    Anybody else here obsessed with The Hunger Games? And amazed that it’s such a big hit? Even though the author is obviously female?
    This is catchy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=4TVVoH7-CKc

  30. buttercup

    TFH, it’s Capulets like you that make blood in the markeplace. Ye gods!

    I think I need to get off the internet or at least off sites that lead to more depressing anti-woman crap. The despair is getting very tough to overcome.

    Hunger games, I want to read it. Maybe I’ll spend the weekend in the hammock, reading, watching the corgi run around the fenced part of the yard and ignoring the rest of the world. A savage death island of the mind.

  31. rootlesscosmo

    There’s a nice setting of four e.e. cummings poems for high voice and piano by Gwyneth Walker

    http://www.gwynethwalker.com/thoughlo.html

    (the set includes an additional poem by the composer.) There’s a recorded performance on the site. Or if you’re in the Bay Area you can come to Lakeside Presbyterian Church on 19th Avenue (SF) and hear it at 7:30 this evening (Friday March 16), sung by Elspeth Franks with ol’ rootless at the keyboard. (Dress warmly–godbags don’t believe in central heating.)

  32. tinfoil hattie

    buttercup, you watch your phraseology!

    I recommend Hunger Games for an absorbing, well-written, not-too-shabby-from-a-feminist-viewpoint, escapist read. I sucked all three of them down on my Kindle in about 2 days. Blew right through an Amazon Gift Card.

  33. Framboise

    “it is impossible to photograph any flower without some amount of sex involved, since flowers are after all the sex organs of plants.”

    A lesson I learned in my high school biology class from this weird documentary called (I believe) “The Sex Life of Plants” and narrated by James Earl Jones with a soundtrack borrowed from a 70′s p0rno. Sadly this is probably the best sex education I got at a Texas high school during the Bush governor-ship. In any case, I now feel the need to get a microscopic camera.

  34. jmpswann

    I already bought the Mr. T in your pocket on your recommendation. That makes you a trusted consumer guide in my mind.

  35. buttercup

    What is it about the Music Man? Is it that Marion (madam librarian) is doing the best she can in a hopelessly patriarchal society? Is it the music? The dancing? The prospect of an ice cream social? Is it a misplaced woe that the world isn’t actually that simple? Or is it that we all either know or secretly are Harold Hill?

  36. pheeno

    Now I have a Grease 2 song stuck in my head

    The parts of a flower are so constructed that very, very often the wind will cause pollination.
    If not, then a bee or any other nectar gathering creature can create the same situation.
    Yes, anything that gets the pollen to the pistils, write it on the list.
    I’ll try to make it crystal-clear:
    The flower’s insatiable passion turns its life into a circus of debauchery!

    Now you see just how the stamen gets its lusty dust onto the stigma.
    And why this frenzied chlorophyllous orgy starts in spring is no enigma!
    We call this quest for satisfaction a what, class?

    A photo-periodic reaction!

  37. tinfoil hattie

    I don’t know, buttercup. The hopeless romance? The representation of a woman’s virginity as a commodity? The stereotypical interfering mother? The sleazy salesmen? The fate-worse-than-death-ism of spinsterhood? The Wells Fargo Wagon? The Unbearable Whiteness of Being in small-town Iowa? The ranking of women by virtue of the importance of their husbands’ positions in town? Tommy Djilas (I just found out that’s how it’s spelled!)? BALZAC? The ice cream sociable?

    Me, I’m betting on the shipoopi.

  38. Tarr

    I bought a crappy used microscope off Ebay for the sole purpose of examining my horse’s poo for parasites so that I could deworm appropriately rather than periodically.

    Stupid Ebay microscope didn’t work. But I sure could see an iphone microscope performing the job!
    Thanks. You may have saved my horse from needless dewormings.

    Is this it?

    http://www.amazon.com/3B-Scientific-iPhone-Microscope-Magnification/dp/B005TE13TO/ref=pd_sbs_op_5

  39. Shelby

    I dunno AlienNumber and Tinfoil Hattie. I’ve only read the first one but I found my lip involuntarily curling. Of course she had to be P2K compliant and have great love and respect for her always awesome father and mistrust her weak mother who married down. She had to be best friends with the hot boy who obviously wanted her but she’s perceived as too dumb or innocent to pick up on those cues. Then once in the games she had to be saved by the baker boy who had always been in love with her and then spared certain death by some other boy. I particularly disliked when she dragged baker boy out of the mud, washed all his clothes, washed all the dirt off him, cleaned, dressed and healed his wounds which took hours and then realised she’s have to give the audience more in the way of luuurve so she was forced to kiss and touch the boy over and over and placate his puppy love to get a “reward”.

    Plus she rarely got to actually use one of her greatest skills as a long distance archer.

    Am I just being churlish? Looking at everything under the feminist microscope can be a burden sometimes.

  40. nails

    @tarr

    Depending on the organism you may need specific dyes to see it via microscope.

  41. Cyberwulf

    Check out this whining asshole who had his lawsuit against a London university, claiming anti-male bias, thrown out of court:

    http://www.camdennewjournal.com/news/2012/mar/court-rejects-student-tom-martin%E2%80%99s-claim-anti-male-bias-london-school-economics

    One of the things he moaned about was that the chairs in the library were too hard.

    Naturally all the MRAs are making hay about this, because who cares about actual problems like the high rate of suicide among young men or testicular cancer research, when one can have a fit of testerics because a frivolous lawsuit was thrown out of court?

  42. Cootie Twoshoes

    Holy crap, that microscope gadget is flat out cool as hell. Many endless thanks from my spot in the dark cavern of grad school for the glimpse of the outside world. You’re the best spinster aunt a radfem or a kid in a restaurant could have.

  43. Jen

    Alright then. Let’s hear some recommendations for more radfem-friendly leisure reading, especially sci-fi/fantasy.

  44. tnfoil hattie

    @Shelby,, you are right of course, AND there were some not-so-bad things like the gender-bending attire and makeup of Katniss’s team – but yeah, you’ve ruined my life once more, for which I do thank you!

  45. AlienNumber

    Shelby, completely agreed and I found my lip curled also at the same things! (the part about the great dead dad completely blew my lobe). Oh and that stalker Peeta… Sigh.
    But in the end I read it as a story of survival- the female wins! She still maintains her dignity. The most important person in the female’s life is another female. There’s enough in there for quite a bit of radfem pleasure.
    And the books are by a female author, written in a female voice. Reasonable minds can disagree on this one?

  46. AlienNumber

    One step up from Harry Potter: no man is the main protagonist and the female author doesn’t hide her femaleness behind “gender-neutral” initials.

  47. Newbie

    Jen, these may be books you’ve read before, but I’d recommend the following:

    Nicola Griffith’s Ammonite (also Slow River)

    Elisabeth Vonarburg’s Maerlande Chronicles

    So much of Octavia Butler that it’s hard to choose (Seed to Harvest, Fledgling, The Parable of the Sower/Parable of the Talents, Lilith’s Brood)

    Sarah Hall’s Daughters of the North

    The Elemental Logic series by Laurie Marks (Water Logic, Earth Logic & Fire Logic, although Air Logic has yet to be published)

    Kelley Eskridge’s Solitaire

    Perhaps others will disagree, in which case I’d welcome your critiques.

  48. L

    About P2K Compliance in the Hunger Games– it’s probably the only mainstream thing I’ve read in recent history to actually acknowledge what a damn production and hassle it is to be so. At the beginning of the book Katniss forgoes all beauty routines and has them forced upon her once she is selected for the games. She actually notes how weird and disconcerting it is to be robbed of one’s body hair and scars…

    And (SPOILER) At the end of the series it seems like she’s disfigured from all the fighting and doesn’t care…

    I really love the Hunger Games and although it is not perfect sex-wise or race-wise, there is a lot there to appreciate.

  49. buttercup

    Not written by a woman, but Terry Pratchett’s Tiffany Aching books (his young adult series) are great. Total badass female protagonist.

  50. Framboise

    AlienNumber, I also like The Hunger Games for being about female survival and written from a bad-ass female protagonist perspective. However, the last book in the series kind of soured me on the whole deal. The barf-worthy love triangle dragged on way too long. {spoiler alert} I kind of got the impression that she didn’t really like either of those dudes but felt the need to pick one as they were the only age-appropriate unattached dudes she knew, and you know, how else would she settle down and have babies.

    I second the Tiffany Aching recommendation, and really any of the Discworld books about the witches. If you want to read some sci-fi with fascinating gender politics that are actually considered problematic in the text (ie, lobe-blowing, but actually supposed to be) The Chaos Walking trilogy is pretty amazing. Of course anything by Octavia Butler is a guaranteed good read.

  51. Chloe

    I second the Octavia Butler recommendation. I would add to the list Nicola Griffith’s Ammonite and Elisabeth Vonarburg’s Maerlande Chronicles, both of which envision futures in which the human race is much depleted and in which men are mostly (if not entirely) absent. To the best of my recollection, Maerlande address sex politics head on, including the extent to which men are responsible for the near extinction of the human race, while Ammonite removes men from the equation entirely. Laurie J. Marks has an engaging series called Elemental Logic, featuring strong, primarily female (and more often than not lesbian) characters. That said, I am also a fan of The Hunger Games trilogy, previously stated flaws notwithstanding.

  52. Shannon

    @ Jen: feminist friendly escapist books? Try the Vorkosigan saga by Lois McMaster Bujold. I didn’t think I could like books about space travel and set on different planets but it’s amazing.

    There are quite a few books in the series http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vorkosigan_Saga

    I recommend Shards of Honor and Barrayar (just get the two of them together, I’m not sure why they’re different books to be honest) as Cordelia the protagonist kicks some ass, despite wanting to settle with her Nigel. Plenty of feminist critique abounds, and even though the main character for the overarching series is a d00d, he very much stands in the shadows of the brilliant women around him.

    Actually anything by Lois McMaster Bujold is a great read, if you’re tired of all the usual tropes from fantasy novels. (does anyone else get really tired of the, every female character is either raped, a whore, or a whore who was raped thing? I haven’t read anything written by a male fantasy author in years for this reason. Pratchett not included.)

  53. bustle

    I just saw a blended marg recipe made with kale and I thought of you, Twisty!

  54. Traps

    “Some perceptive readers are quite certain it is actually autumn.”

    Don’t forget us blamers in the Southern Hemisphere.

  55. nails

    There is an old thread about sci-fi fandom and books to read. It is long.

    I read the first hunger games book.The love story has an interesting relationship to sexual consent (seeing as how she had to play up romantic bs to survive). I do feel that the book wanted me to feel bad for the dude who was clueless enough to think that life threatening danger was a non-issue, though. I was supposed to feel bad for him all the time. I didn’t even realize how crazy that was until I looked back on it after the book, and got kinda angry about the whole thing.

  56. squiggy

    Please tell us which microscope you have. We want to explore a reality that doesn’t piss us off!

  57. Jen

    Nails, I think I found it.

    http://blog.iblamethepatriarchy.com/2007/03/05/psst-over-here-this-is-the-thread-for-sci-fi-geeks/

  58. Owly

    I found the Lost Maples. Heart-warming indeed.

  59. Barbara P

    I’d rather my 12 year old daughter read “Hunger Games” than “Twilight” ANY day. It may not have a perfect message, but at least it plants some seeds of patriarchy-blaming. For a very popular book that “everyone” is reading, I never expected better.

  60. Kea

    Ah, autumn! Just pulled a large batch of field mushrooms from the long grass by the river. Little oil and salt, all they need.

  61. Jezebella

    Speedbudget – e.e. cummings, yes? I like that one as well.

    I just finished reading “Prep” by Curtis Sittenfeld, which captured alarmingly well the ongoing neuroses of a high school girl desperate to fit in but also unwilling to make all of the sacrifices necessary. I just realized, too, that the main character’s main crush, Cross Sugarman, has the same initials as the (female) author and an equally absurdly preppy prep school type name, which she makes fun of a couple of times. In a way it reminded me of being the public-school Protestant at Catholic girls’ high school – though perhaps not as intense as a boarding school, I was always aware of how I was different and how I both wanted to be popular and simultaneously hated the shitty popular debutante girls. “Did I want to fit in? Could I? No? NEVER? Okay, the hell with you all!” Rinse, repeat, until graduation.

  62. Phledge

    Being as that there is nothing in our currently known universe that is not tainted with the filth of patriarchy, the Hunger Games trilogy is actually a decent foray into fomenting dissent, the nature of consent, our voyeuristic and sadistic tendencies, how women can and do break down in the face of oppression, the general uselessness of hierarchies, and the delicate art of appearing to acquiesce to the oppressor for survival. Naturally, with all these hot-potato themes, the lion’s share of the buzz around the stories is “Team Peeta or Team Gale?” Bitter, mirthless laughter ensues.

  63. quixote

    (Phledge, I can’t stand it any more. You have to tell me. Is that cat in your avatar picture wearing green orange rind on her head? Or what is it?)

  64. quixote

    (Repeat of an earlier comment that went into spam)

    squiggy: “We want to explore a reality that doesn’t piss us off!”

    Exactly why I went into biology. I’ve spent years in awe of plants. If I could post a pic here, I’d contribute this one:
    http ://molvray .com/photos/picture.php?/5004/category/128 (remove spaces to turn into a proper url.)
    I’m a complete sucker for anything fuzzy. Also anything miniature. Miniature *and* fuzzy is complete cute overload.

  65. nails

    There are nail polish marketing tie ins for the hunger games movie now.

  66. Phledge

    Quixote: it’s a lifted pic from the interwebs but my guess is that it’s either a reeeeally small cat with a lime helmet, or it’s a pomelo.

    Nails: truly what disgusts me is that the tie-ins are praising exactly what the book despises. Katniss is very beauty 2-k non-compliant and her ‘handlers’ (shudder) do nothing short of torture to prepare her for submission so she can win. I puke to think that the megacorporotheocracy takes the mere presence of beauty compliance in the books as approval and endorsement of these toxic, painful rituals. It fucking figures, patriarchy.

  67. Damequixote

    @Framboise “The Sex Life of Plants” and narrated by James Earl Jones with a soundtrack borrowed from a 70?s p0rno. Sadly this is probably the best sex education I got at a Texas high school during the Bush governor-ship.

    O good gravy. James Earl Jones narrated a sex tape for schools? When I hear him all I hear is Darth Vader followed closely by Thulsa Doom. My imagination just won’t let the idea of that go. Darth Vader narrating sex vids for school kids:

    “And together they have created a fetus. (Que dramatic John Williams music denoting something scientific and sinister) Small fetus I will call Luke, THAT OTHER GUY IS YOUR FATHER. I am just the announcer (pause) this time.”

  68. Katherine

    Spring has sprung, and my four-year-old daughter told me yesterday that she didn’t want my legs to be hairy. On further questioning, it appears that someone at her nursery told her women have to shave their legs.

    Of course I knew, deep down, that patriarchal programming was going to happen. And it’s been happening for a while already. But damn it’s sad to see.

  69. qvaken

    Can I post?

  70. speedbudget

    Jezebella: Yes. I should have attributed properly. I was all squiggly about spring and forgot.

    Now I get to go to an all-day mediation about the whole Dodgers fiasco. This will probably be the most interesting job I’ve done in a year.

  71. speedbudget

    P.S. Does anyone know how to attach a cute and/or funny picture to my name instead of having the quilt square?

  72. qvaken

    Ohthankgod. Obviously my blog link is branding me a spambot.

    I desperately need to have woman-friendly discussions every now and again. My Facebook (I post feminist stuff, sometimes from this blog) is rampant with men who are baffled that anyone would suggest that it’s common for men to rape women, who insist that they laugh at rape jokes because they are “firmly against political correctness”, who educate me that if a woman feels like the discourse of the people around her is forcing her into a reproductive quadruple-bind then it’s her fault for keeping the company that she keeps, who use the term ‘misandry’, who delete my comments if I call out extreme misogyny (racism/xenophobia, too) on their own Facebook walls, and so on and so forth. One even made a few points about how there are really no sex-based problems anyway, he should be free to laugh at depictions of violent acts against women, the problem might be how I “choose to interpret things”, and I need to consider all points of view, and then declared that he was summing up “because I refuse to be drawn into an extensive Facebook discussion”. Okay, Dad. Sorry, Dad.

    Yeesh. Become interested in the current social climate and specifically how women fare within it, and the d00ds will come out in full force to shut you up. (Don’t worry. I’m fighting them.)

    And I wanted to say that your photos are great. A friend who is a photography enthusiast showed me a lot of pictures of spiders and insects, and even with his super-duper equipment (I don’t know) he got a lot of blur, so your iPhone microscope is doing a damn good job.

  73. tinfoil hattie

    qvaken, you can merrily delete these folks from your “friends” list, and then change your settings so that only “friends” can see what you post.

    I like doing it. It gives me a cheap cyber-thrill.

  74. AlienNumber

    Phledge, I’d discuss books with you until forever. That was a wonderful critique-summary.
    (as a woman born and raised on the Other Side of the Iron Curtain, I found Collins’ superb jabs at capitalism and senseless materialism, well… superb. And unexpected, honestly. Will her wise words be wasted on the megacorporotheocracy? Will they try to sell the girls puke pinknail polish to make them as little like Katniss as possible? Will there be endless senseless talk of hot man-hunks who are actually puke-worthy? You bet! But I still think the basic ideas are strong enough to stir some thought into some people out there).

    Next book on the list: Faludi’s Backlash. Somehow it makes sense that I should read that after Hunger Games.

  75. shnurki

    Spring has sprung, and so has March Madness! Is anyone watching the women’s tournament? Me neither.

    Nigel and I are watching the men’s tournament religiously, and last night I finally reached my threshold for sexist car commercials, footage of cheerleaders with mechanical smiles, and underprivileged women gazing out into the stadium, entranced by the sight of their manly, manly sons. Nigel says I simply have not yet learned, as he has, to tune out everything except for the game.

    He really is one of the only decent people I know, but I cannot forgive him for being able to do this. I want him to lose that ability. Is that right on my part? Misguided? Especially considering he’s hyper-aware of the more life-and-death issues of women’s oppression? I want him to feel what I feel; I’m determined to make him. At what point does that just collapse into narcissism?

    Switching gears slightly, I’m interested in whether people think it’s possible to educate people like qvaken’s Dad. Does anyone have any success stories in this area? (qvaken, do you?)

  76. shnurki

    AlienNumber (and others) are you familiar with We, by Yevgeni Zamyatin? (Written shortly after the Russian revolution, it’s considered the blueprint for 1984.) In 9th grade I wrote an essay, at my mother’s urging, on its strong female characters. Thinking back, I-33 just seems like our typical hyper-sexualized femme fatale, but I haven’t read the book in ages. Anyone?

  77. smash

    Thanks for the open thread, Twisty. I’ve been getting out into nature as well. Spring is wonderful!

    I found this two part analysis of postmodernism very interesting, and I think blamers may as well.

    http://radicalhub.com/2012/03/08/the-pomo-backlash-looking-at-feminism-in-the-aftermath-of-postmodernism-part-1/

    http://radicalhub.com/2012/03/18/the-pomo-backlash-looking-at-feminism-in-the-aftermath-of-postmodernism-part-2/

    Thanks!

  78. TwissB

    @AlienNumber – After reading Susan Faludi’s “Backlash,” I began wondering why an apparently strong analysis of media promotion of sexism was getting such sweetheart treatment in mainstream media. I found what I think is the answer when I noticed that she freely referred specifically to right-wing and other conservative publications, religions, etc. as sources of anti-feminist propaganda. Although any feminist is aware that lefty or liberal propaganda is relied on by the self-identified good guys to cut women down, in that case, she tends to refer vaguely to “people.”

    Like Katha Politt, Faludi takes care to avoid alienating the journalism brotherhood whose reaction to her work can make or break her career..

  79. Jezebella

    Shnurki, I confess that I can tune out nearly all of the patriarchal garbage that comes along with watching a football game if I am watching my New Orleans Saints. Sometimes it’s too much, but on the whole I can watch the sport and just tune out the commercials. It’s a survival strategy for me – we all have to be able to tune out the nattering nagging voice of the patriarchy just in order to get along with our lives without daily lobe explosions, yeah? I would avoid watching with him – or make him watch the women’s tournament – if you can’t tune it out. I know that sounds like “let the boys have their little sports games” but I also want MY few hours of escapist sport entertainment now and again, too.

    I also read “We” about a zillion years ago, along with 1984 and Brave New World, for my high school senior thesis (written in 1984, natch). I remember exactly nothing about it, alas, except that I can never spell the author’s name correctly.

  80. quixote

    No, shnurki, you’re not crazy. The P is. The perfect word for male sports is inspissated machismo. It means boiled down, seethed in its own juices. It hurts that something which ruins everything is such a small factor for him, he can overlook it. Privilege doesn’t actually have many advantages, but one huge one is that there are whole sets of things you don’t have to think about.

  81. quixote

    The Hunger Games BS is blowing my mind a bit. (Have you seen the NYTimes article on the marketing campaign? *Gag*) I gather the premise is that the rich folks set groups of po’ folks fighting each other so that the winning group can get some of the limited supply of food and not starve to death.

    So far, I’m not sure why it’s billed as fiction, let alone science fiction.

    And then I gather the poor folks play their duly allotted part and kill each other. Does it really never even come up that the screamingly obvious solution is to band together and get the rich people? Seriously?

  82. speedbudget

    It’s not sci-fi, but definitely a very interesting read:

    http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/story.asp?sectioncode=26&storycode=419301&c=1

  83. stacey

    I think filtering out the P with sports must be akin to filtering it out when watching something like Downton Abbey; it’s there, it’s pervasive, and it’s overt, but unless we ignore some of it, we’re never going to be able to watch anything ever again.

    shnurki, I agree with quixote; don’t watch stuff with him. Or agree to pvr it and watch without the commercials. Or even it up with some women’s games. Or find another female fan and go watch it with her!

  84. squiggy

    Thanks quixote, for the beautiful miniature and fuzzy picture. It kindly assuaged today’s many peccadilloes. I shall continue to seek out the peaceful comfort of tiny beauty: truth which one can bear.

  85. qvaken

    shnurki: Well, really I meant “Dad”. Just poking fun at how these guys, no matter what their age (that guy is 20, I think), will readily slip into that fathering role provided their conversation partner is a woman.

    In terms of success stories: the support provided for my contentions is mostly conditional. So long as they don’t become aware that I’m imploring them to look into their own lives and look at their own friends and consider the misogyny and rape culture active therein, then they’ll be civil and supportive. Otherwise, their reactions will include anything from offering me light education on my outlook and rhetoric to accusing me of raping them with my words. On a more hopeful note, one guy confessed that my rape posts made him feel uncomfortable because they made him face up to his privilege and capability to commit such an act, another guy conceded that discourse promoting rape is ingrained in our language and culture, and the day after I openly denounced rape jokes, another young woman who is a friend of mine openly denounced callous mental illness jokes.

    shnurki, you’re allowed to insist that Nigel see things from your point of view. Cultural misogyny is insidious.

  86. Taring

    I find people slap the feminist label on anything that has a female protagonist. It’s not necessarily feminist if the woman doesn’t question male authority in an overly patriarchal setting, especially when she actively seeks its approval (through either a romantic or a mentored relationship.) It’s like all the non-heroine women are just too stupid/scared (=womanly) and therefore deservedly in an inferior position, while the heroine gets ahead *because* she’s got balls like the “real” men. But still, I suppose it’s a step in the right direction.
    That said, I enjoyed Grass by Sherri S. Tepper – great sci-fi about an Earth colony in the future and interesting alien life. It doesn’t get caught up in hi-tech details. Instead the focus is on the characters and their thoughts/politics.
    Another is Nicola Griffith’s Ammonite, which is refreshing for the lack of men. Not that I hate reading about men, but it does get tiring tallying up how fairly genders are represented in a story and this mostly gets rid of the problem.
    The Chaos Walking trilogy was okay; parts of it bothered me. I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but didn’t it seem like the men got a lot of sympathy and second chances…?
    The Age of the Five trilogy by Trudi Canavan has a good mix of male and female people in positions of power. There’s a few scenes where one of the women has to deal with self-important misogynists that were enjoyable to read, if only for the acknowledgement of such a common occurrence in real life.
    I’m preparing to read another Tepper novel. I hope this one doesn’t disappoint either. Good luck to everyone else on their feminist fiction search!

  87. stacey

    My open-threaded rant for today.

    So this morning, we’re listening to the news, and they’re talking about how it’s pretty much for certain that the current provincial gov’t is going down, down, down. Then hubz turns to me and says, “It looks like what [mutual friend] said is true – that parties only choose women to lead when they know they’re in nosedive.”

    BACK THE FUCK UP, ROOMMATE. **I** said that. ***I*** said that when you, Mutual Friend, and I were discussing it in December. *I* was the one that pointed out, with at least four examples from Canadian politics, that when a party is in tatters and most likely going to lose the next election, they put a woman in charge.

    MF was far kinder, saying that when parties felt they needed a sweeping change, they went with women, because what could be more different than having a woman in charge; I maintain that women are expendable political fodder, and get elected to lead their sad-ass parties because a) everyone encourages them to, and b) none of the real power-brokering men will run for the leadership because they know their party isn’t going to win the next election, and they don’t want to be the sacrificial lamb.

    Roommate scoffed at the idea, then and now, saying it was “conspiracy-minded.” BACK THE FUCK UP, ROOMMATE, it was okay when you thought MF said it, but it’s “conspiracy-minded” when *I* think it? Mother love a duck.

    Then, when he gets home after work, he’s like, “Well, the [local right-wing daily]‘s editorial agrees with you, so I guess that’s your argument validated.” BACK THE… so if a MAN writes an editorial about it, you’ll believe it, but you won’t believe ME when I say it? Un-fucking-believeable.

    Guess who’s not doing any housework this week. Go on, guess.

    [Editorial in question is at h ttp://www.theprovince.com/news/Women+should+chance+lead+when+times+good/6323314/story.html]

  88. shnurki

    Wow. Except, I’d flip the interpretation a bit– an original idea from a woman is a bad idea, but once it’s proven to have actually been a good idea, it gets magically re-attributed to a man. Awesome.

    I’ve been living part of the time in a country whose immensely corrupt regime was overthrown last April. The country was (and is) broke, extremely young, and its northern and southern parts have little holding them together. The coalition that overthrew the government consisted of a bunch of guys, most of them just as corrupt as the ousted president, and one woman with a pretty clean record. Guess who served as interim president until the elections? Ethnic fighting erupted almost immediately and the country’s second city was virtually destroyed. Very few people, least of all her cabinet, hesitated to lay it on the president’s womanly weakness, her indecision, and her loose morals (she’s divorced and has kids). Mercifully, unlike our leaders in the west, they said so in so many words, so at least that lifts the burden of proof.

    And she did pretty much suck as leader, selling out her relatively progressive views every step of the way. What she did right was to become the first president to relinquish power voluntarily, which should now mean that the future male leaders will definitely not be doing that. Meh, snore.

  89. Jen

    Speedbudget, that article was fascinating.

    I was particularly interested in the connection between physical/emotional nurturing and the ability to retain memories of childhood. Thanks for sharing this.

  90. TotallyDorkin

    @stacey
    *applause*

    re: Hunger Games
    I definitely got the impression that Katniss was not particularly interested in men in a sexual way. It was clear to me (maybe just me) that what Katniss wanted from Gale or Peeta was deep friendship, and she couldn’t understand why her relationship with Peeta should impact her relationship with Gale and vice versa. Her internal narrative of confusion as to why these two men felt it necessary to be possessive of her love was really well done I think.

    But please, disagree with me wholeheartedly if you do. I read the books 3 months ago, might misremember things, and would love to be corrected.

  91. Jezebella

    Hey, plant-loving people: surely you can find a way for me to blame the patriarchy for the coating of pollen that has covered south Mississippi for the last month, and will continue to for at least another month? Spring looks lovely out the window, but I have become one of those tiresome jerks who can’t go outside without a. allergy meds and b. complaining about the stupid pollen trying to kill me.

  92. Lovepug

    @speedbudget: Thanks too for that link. Well worth the read. (the predictable MRA comments that go with it, not so much).

  93. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    Jezebella: This may not be patriarchy-blaming per se, but if there is such a thing as what the godbags call “Intelligent Design”, why do we still have such miserable allergic reactions? I am currently in der Scheiss Haus with a co-worker who wanted the window open, but because of the stupid pollen trying to choke me to death, it has to be closed.

  94. yttik

    “Hey, plant-loving people”

    Stinging nettle tea completely cured me. They grow wild here so I can pick all I need, with gloves of course. The moment they hit hot water, they don’t sting anymore. When I travel I buy freeze dried capsules because it’s more convenient. Anyway, I have no more hay fever, no more stinging eyes, no more sneezing, no sinus headaches, and no more drowsiness from allergy meds.

    Do your own research, but they’ve worked wonders for me.

  95. iiii

    @qvaken, if you’d like a little leaven in your lump, there’s a Facebook Blamer group.

    re: Hunger Games, with spoilers
    I found the ending unsatisfying. Like, her-publishers-made-her-tack-it-on unsatisfying. I’d have thought Katniss would have told the boys that yes, she loved them both, they are her brothers, and now that she doesn’t have cameras following her every move they should find someone else to wank over, because she’s going to curl up in her nice safe house and wrestle with her PTSD for a while, and maybe sometime decades hence fall in love with someone of whom she has no violent memories. But no.

  96. SamanthaJankis

    Thanks for the open thread, Twisty.

    I signed this petition today, and would like to pass it on to all those blamers who agree that a woman has a right to say no to sex. http://www.thepetitionsite.com/917/570/206/support-womens-sexual-autonomy/?cid=FB_Share Thanks!

  97. speedbudget

    Thanks for taking a gander, guys. I thought it was a really enlightening article, and I absolutely love that Hrdy is a feminist pioneer. It opened my eyes to the fact that, yes, we do always look at anthropology from the male point of view, and never consider what the women and children were doing. The assumption is they were sitting around being useless, doing their hair and waiting for rings and whatnot I guess. Seems untenable in a survivability situation, but what do I know? I’m just a lady.

    Hey, Jezebella and Antoinette: Have you tried eating local honey? Because the bees visit local plants to make their honey, it can be helpful in alleviating allergies. Plus, if you’re buying local honey, it tastes much better, you can pick and choose your varieties (try orange blossom honey if you are near orange groves. It’s heavenly), and you’re most likely supporting a local business or even just a backyard apiarist.

  98. rootlesscosmo

    @speedbudget:

    we do always look at anthropology from the male point of view, and never consider what the women and children were doing.

    It’s easy to find accounts of the origin of music that talk about work-chants, meaning, of course, men rowing or chopping or whatever; harder to find accounts that take notice of the lullaby, but has there ever been a culture in the world where moms don’t sing their babies to sleep?

  99. stacey

    I agree w/ everyone re. article – a great read. As an attachment parent I’ve long been annoyed at how modern parenting still follows the isolationist “nuclear family” model, because the attachment shouldn’t just be between parent and child, but also parent to sibling, child to grandparents, cousins to cousins, etc. We need to be in groups – we need the presence of other people to learn empathy, social skills, whatever. And that’s not just in a parent/child dynamic, either.

    And re. male-centric anthropology: anthropology is, like, TOTALLY seen through a patriarchal lens. The first invention was the wheel? Pffft. How about string? It keeps your hides tied to your hide. And it was probably thought up by women, but it’s not nearly glamorous enough to count as a “first” invention.

  100. squiggy

    Where is the Facebook blamer group? I couldn’t find it.

  101. Barbara P

    That article got me thinking.

    What is with the notion of “needing” something as a justification for taking it? To a baby this “fact” seems obvious: a caregiver is there to provide. But do we ever really grow out of that?

    It reminds me of the book “The Giving Tree”. As a moral lesson, that story is appalling, but as a description of the way things just are sometimes, it’s dead-on. The boy decides he “needs” certain things and he just takes them from the tree.

    Maybe that’s the root of patriarchy – we all (but especially men) need what women have to “give”, so women are controlled and ruled. I’m of the opinion that as much as I wish it weren’t so, patriarchy has roots in biology. (Please note: This doesn’t make it *acceptable* or *unchangeable*.) But that urge to control comes from somewhere very deep.

    Perhaps it explains why some people, including many women, freak out about abortion and birth control. At root is the acknowledgment that a child could be *unwanted*. To them that is an unacceptable reality, tapping into a primal fear: “Mother doesn’t care about us & won’t give us what we need. We can’t have that!” It also explains why any time a mother acts in any way other than the way the “giving tree” acts, someone will find that unacceptable.

    But then – in reference to the article, I ask: what “right” do those poor babies in the hospital have to a “mother’s loving touch”? (I’m using the word mother here in a very broad sense – including men even.) What “right” do any of us have to love and care and nurturing? What “right” do humans have to kill animals or plants to eat, or drill for oil and then burn it? It seems a human delusion that the planet (like a mother) is here for our sake. That idea is spelled out clearly in Abrahamic religion, but it seems to cross over to other cultures also.

    I’d like to think that love and care and nurturing do exist in this world, in their purest form. But there’s almost something spiritual to the idea that we should be immensely grateful when we encounter it. These (womanly?) virtues can’t actually be forced or controlled; trying to do so only warps them. This is what I mean if I ever talk about honoring the “feminine”. (Acknowledging the word’s baggage both on this site and in the patriarchal world at large.)

    Rather than exploiting mothers’ maternal instincts (or trying to force them), we should all aspire to be the nurturers as well as the recipients of love and care. Not quite sure how to get there from here, but just setting the bar.

  102. tinfoil hattie

    @stacey, good for you. I never do any fucking housework anymore. Never. Fuck that noise.

  103. pandechion

    One of the many eye-opening things about parenthood for me was that, as needy as my three-year-old can get, she’ll never piss down my leg and tell me it’s raining, like men are wont to do. She needs stuff from me because she can’t do it for herself. My job is both to give her that stuff and to teach her to do it for herself. You know that old saw about men feeling neglected when their wives are taking care of the babies? For me it was like a switch had been flipped. “You’re FIFTY, she’s three, you’re making your own damn dinner.”

  104. Kali

    Barbara P, have you read “The Mermaid and the Minotaur”, by Dorothy Dinnerstein? She argues that one of the roots of the patriarchy, and even our relations with nature, is because we leave caregiving responsibilites with mothers and caregiving is not equally shared between mothers and fathers. The more mothers (women) give, the more we expect and demand from them, to the point of perfect self-sacrifice. No real mother can meet these unreal expectations, and hence the perpetual dissatisfaction and anger with mothers (and women, by extension).

    There are other studies out there showing that when “nice” people refuse to do/give something they are resented and hated more than when the “not so nice” people refuse to do/give something. We expect more out of the people who are already givers, so we judge them more harshly when they don’t give. So, a man will be judged as a good husband and father as long as he is not a violent, abusive freeloader, but a woman has to be a perfect madonna image of self-sacrifice in order to be judged as a sufficiently good wife and mother.

  105. hayduke

    Squiggy – the FB group is called We Blame the Patriarchy, to clarify its unofficial status. Tread carefully; the trans debate has been in full swing lately.

    Since everybody else is weighing in on the Hunger Games books: my verdict was “not bad for some light reading.” In fact, it was better than one would expect of something so popularly embraced. My greatest disappointment was with the ending, for much the same reason given by iiii earlier. I’m not at all sure whether I want to see the movie adaptation.

  106. Kali

    What “right” do any of us have to love and care and nurturing? What “right” do humans have to kill animals or plants to eat, or drill for oil and then burn it? It seems a human delusion that the planet (like a mother) is here for our sake. That idea is spelled out clearly in Abrahamic religion, but it seems to cross over to other cultures also.

    Very old versions of hinduism do have the idea of worshipping nature (maybe as a way of showing gratitude) for all that nature gives us. Trees are worshipped for giving shade and fruit. Cows are worshipped for giving milk. In modern versions, this has been extended to cars and computers too. The patriarchy is still very strong. There is a lot of mother glorification but it is mostly lip service, and no real mother meets the ideal.

  107. tinfoil hattie

    I ask: what “right” do those poor babies in the hospital have to a “mother’s loving touch”? (I’m using the word mother here in a very broad sense – including men even.) What “right” do any of us have to love and care and nurturing?

    I think we’re all born with the “right” to be loved and nurtured. Is that right granted? More often than not, no.

  108. Lovepug

    I just had to get in a third post. Geeezzz I HATED The Giving Tree. I was gifted that stupid book twice. I’ve never understood the sacrifice – just sickening co-dependent oooze. The tree was not giving, it was just stupid. And the boy was an asshole.

    That’s why though it has its own patriarchy issues, I do like the Sassy Gay Friend send-up of that book on Youtube (“It’s not an abusive relationship!”…”HE HAD A CHAINSAW!!!”).

  109. Barbara P

    @tinfoil hattie: the problem is, who is responsible for the ensuring that this right accrues to every child?

    For the record, I do feel the impulse to assure my children of my enduring love, to the point where they could think of it as a kind of “right”. I don’t want them to feel like they owe me anything in return for my natural affinity for them. And that desire extends to all children. In that sense I agree with you.

    BUT – that assumption can lead to exploitation. Because women have an inclination to care, they suddenly have an obligation. Without being vigilant against that outcome, it’s just too easy a leap to talk about what every child is “owed”.

    Instead, I’d like to see people (esp. men) value motherhood by emulating and internalizing it. Don’t just tell me how great I am for caring for this kid – get in there and roll up your sleeves and change its diaper!

  110. Linden

    I’ve been fascinated by Hrdy’s work for some time now, and in the past few years I’ve read a few books on attachment theory. The idea is that children need to have a strong attachment to their caregiver(s), which installs in them a feeling of security and general okayness that allows them to eventually form attachments to others as adults. I think a lot of the problems people exhibit as adults have to do with never having gotten that attachment as a child. But there’s nothing in the theory that says women only are responsible for fostering attachment. And I think in a culture like ours, where men are encouraged to not be emotionally attached to anyone from a very young age, that cycle just perpetuates. Women do become responsible for the entire attachment, because men are checked out from the beginning.

  111. Kali

    Geeezzz I HATED The Giving Tree.

    I hated it too. It has a very sadomasochistic theme.

  112. quixote

    Upthread, someone asked how to blame the patriarchy for pollen allergies. Hah! Easy.

    Allergy-causing pollen comes from wind-pollinated plants, and often from early successionals (aka “weeds”) growing in wastelands, like ragweed. Another biggie is pine pollen which is a major factor in the US South in areas with pine plantations.

    Would we have wastelands and agribusiness monocultures on Savage Death island? Of course not. There’d be a much-reduced wind-borne pollen load in a pro-planet and pro-people society, and so fewer triggers to develop that allergy in the first place.

    (To be fair, oak pollen is a big factor too, but doesn’t fit my story, so we’ll overlook that. Just because the P doesn’t have the whole blame, doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a large part of it. (Apologies for all the meta-levels of negatives. (And for the nested parentheses.)))

  113. Discombobulated

    I too hated THE GIVING TREE.

    I remember being very indignant about how unfair the whole story was, and that tree ought to have slapped that annoying selfish kid right out of the pages of the story with her branches.

    I also thought it was very sweet and poignant at the exact same time. Uncomfortable.

  114. squiggy

    hayduke! The group doesn’t come up on my search! If you feel like friending me or sending me a private message/link on fb my email is maryannhogan@gmail.com
    Thanks for the help!

  115. quixote

    speedbudget, great article! Thanks for that link.

    Re women’s inventions in prehistory.

    The original wheel was likely logs placed under a travois to make it roll more easily. There are plausible theories that the likeliest inventors were women, who had a harder time pulling the loads. Necessity, mother of, etc.

    Invention of agriculture: probably started with planting root cuttings near home to make later collecting easier. Planting grain came later, but the same idea. Women, generally, did much of the plant gathering, both roots and grains. It is extremely likely that women invented agriculture.

    Spinning fibers and hence making rope was also extremely likely to have been invented by women. That results in the ability to make bags out of animal bladders or rope. That means the ability to carry things. To understand what a huge step forward bags were in human history, imagine going to the grocery store with no way to carry anything except what you can hold in your hands.

    Cooking, ditto. Heat processing of foods was probably invented by women. Enormously extends the range of what is edible, and it’s essential to human migration beyond limited home ranges.

    The list just goes on and on and on and on. It’s fun watching the patriarchal blinders gradually get peeled back. Remember a few years ago when somebody finally noticed that the hand prints in the famous European cave drawings were female? (Women almost always have equal length ring and index fingers. Men have longer ring fingers.) The shock! The amazement! The artists were women! Whooda thunk it?

  116. TwissB

    @Lovepug , Kali, Discombobulated, and other “The Giving Tree” haters : Unite and tell the publishers of books for children that if it has a hero named “the Boy” (generic), it’s bad news and we’re not buying it. Same goes for “The Velveteen Rabbit.” It’s interesting that the stickily sentimental TGT is by big, black-bearded smart-talking Shel Silverstein who showed thereby that macho and bathos are two sides of the same coin.

    The ‘Velveteen Rabbit ‘is a stranger case. Author Marjorie Williams Bianco not only wrote this best-selling tearjerker about the Boy and his faithful, but spurned, toy, but she also wrote the little-known “Poor Cecco”, a wonderful , amusing children’s novel with a picaresque plot about a whole toycupboard-full of toys, each with a distinctive personality, a very independent female toy character, and an important cat. Unfortunately, it’s rare, and costly when you find it, probably because it also has the best Arthur Rackham illustrations ever.

    I eagerly followed the tip to Giving Tree satires on YouTube only to find that satire by guys seems to consist mostly of yelling the b-word and I say the hell with it.

  117. stacey

    Yeah, I had to stop watching the Sassy Gay Friend. Such a great premise, such a profuse use of “bitch.”

  118. iiii

    squiggy – let me know if this link doesn’t work and we’ll try something else.

    http://www.facebook.com/groups/284772814919879/

    And – it’s a Facebook group, with all the usual crap that goes along with that. The woo is strong with some of the posters, and some of the Fem is more Fun than Rad, and a couple people just will not take “I hear you; you’re still wrong” for an answer. It is nice, though, to have a spot where everyone’s agreed that the patriarchy *exists* and *is bad.* Helps conserve the Sanity Watchers points.

  119. Linden

    Right on, quixote. It always makes me angry to hear people call prostitution “the oldest profession.” How about healers? How about priestesses? Or clothing or tool makers? Or any other of dozens of useful, necessary-to-survival specialities that women were no doubt expert in from the day people first existed? But really when people talk about prostitution, what they really mean to say is that women’s purpose has always been to provide sex to men, always will be, any anything else they think they are for is just delusions of grandeur.

  120. Kea

    Re women’s inventions in prehistory.

    The dudes have been sprouting evo-psych nonsense for so long now that they can’t argue with the idea that inventions associated to ‘women’s duties’ were created by women. Talk about shooting yourself in the foot. So yes, there is very strong historical evidence that weaving/sewing, pottery, art, agriculture, rolling logs, medicine etc were for the most part invented by women. This fact is also evidenced by many myths, despite the P’s millenia long effort to turn all godesses into Satans and Eves.

    But I don’t think we should stop with these basic foundations of civilisation. I’m sure women were also heavily involved in the most dudely proud creations. The first known individual writer and scientist was Enheduanna, the royal priestess of Sumer-Akkad, who wrote about women measuring the fields. This civilsation already knew Pythagoras’ theorem and recorded in detail ecclipses and other astronomical events. Fire, attributed later to Prometheus, occurs in myths associated to the profession of pottery, and also notably to the (feminine) devil. If we survived for so long without fire, through an ice age, surely its necessity might be linked to cooking. And the stick rubbing method for fire lighting comes from what are ‘women’s tools’ in some known cultures.

  121. Jezebella

    Quixote: Bless ye for finding a way for me to blame the patriarchy for stupid allergies. It’s the pine and the ligustrum that really slay me, and I am deep in Piney Woods pine plantation territory, so there’s that. And the ligustrum is an invasive import, so that shouldn’t even be here. Comparatively the oak pollen is a minor irritant.

    Oh shit. SEE? I’ve turned into someone that never stops yammering about my stupid allergies? What IS that?

    Squiggy, are you from New Orleans? Your name is familiar to me.

  122. squiggy

    iiii! Thank you so much! Your link worked! Isn’t it weird that nothing at all came up when I correctly spelled We Blame The Patriarchy in the search box? Jeez! Thanks to for your warning about the inherent problems that it’s on Facebook, after all. I figured. Total agreement about being happy about the fact there’s a blaming group on fb at all.

    Oooh! I love the idea that I might have been from New Orleans and especially that I might be connected with you, Jezebella. But I was born in Grand Junction, Colorado, moved to Boulder ASAP when I turned 18, then Denver, then NYC, now back in Denver. I say all that with the thought of how great it would be, to have more blamer flesh and blood friends like the brilliant women on this blog.

  123. josquin

    Chiming in to say I hated the Giving Tree also. So so sad. Stupid-ass Boy. So many fairy tales involve girls who sacrifice themselves nobly to their fate, which is usually to serve some dude. The Little Mermaid, anyone? I mean the original Hans Christian Anderson version. Walking on earth with knives going through her feet, mute, in order to win the love of the prince, after saving him from drowning. And then her mermaid sisters tried to save her, but no, she would not kill the prince and return to her life in the sea. She dissolved into the sea foam instead. Nobly.

  124. Josquin

    But let’s not disparage all female authors who use gender-neutral initials. A.S. Byatt rocks HARD, is brilliant, is ferocious, outrageously deeply inventive and takes no prisoners.

  125. iiii

    squiggy – Glad it worked. See you ’round the campfire.

  126. Katherine

    I’ve seen that article about the anthropology of attachment in two different (feminist) places now, and I have to give another shout out to it.

    The nuclear family model is poison – it’s patriarchy bottled and sold as romantic – and we’ve built the entirety of modern western society around it. There’s no escape, unless you go seriously alternative, and there are limited opportunities for that. I have moved by Nigel and child to a different city to be nearer to two grandmothers in the hope of building something vaguely resembling the wider supportive family group. And this is with a very care-giving Nigel.

  127. speedbudget

    quixote:

    I agree with you, the inventors of most things were probably women, but as I think about prehistoric lives, I can’t imagine that society was as delineated to have women be the only gatherers and men be the only hunters, for example. Firstly, if you’re off on a hunt (which women were very likely involved in, since very early hunting most likely involved running prey to near exhaustive death, and women are much better long-distance and ultra-marathoners than men) and you have very little packed on you, you are going to be looking around as you follow the herd for little snacks and bites to eat to keep the engine running. Not to mention the amount of work involved in simply surviving. It just seems stupid to have half your people resources not included in the work of surviving. I think it only becomes tenable to do that when you are more stable and have food stores on hand, etc.

    I believe agriculture caused the patriarchy to hit in full swing. I’m not saying it wasn’t there in bits and pieces beforehand, but I just posit that it wasn’t until we stopped being nomadic and started being more sedentary (in the way of not moving home every few days or weeks) and holding bits of land to ourselves, which naturally led to the idea of ownership. Not to mention early plows are some heavy-ass things that really require lots of upper body muscle to use, especially without the help of work animals, which gave men the excuse they needed to be all “MINE.”

  128. Hari

    First, it was great to hear comments from (especially) Kali and Barbara on mothering. I have recently been treated to some very ugly stuff from a daughter who, now a mother herself, still does not see how great a sacrifice mothers are expected to make, not receiving anything in return–not even the bare minimum of being granted the status of full human. All the while worshipping her father and straining for his (still ungiven) approval (and his family’s), although he (and they) made her life wretched as she grew and I saw her through so many bouts of tears and rage due to his/their vicious selfishness. Been thinking about motherhood a lot this past week!

    But I really came today to mention Springtime in the southern part of the midwest. Where normally, daffodils begin to bloom as early as late Feb, but most often through March. Followed in late March/early April by the redbud trees blooming, then the dogwoods (later April), then the lilacs (May). I was gone for 10 days, during a warmer-than-average winter, and the daffodils were starting as about usual. Came home to redbuds, dogwoods AND lilacs all abloom and already fading fast–it’s been in the high 70s-low 80s during the day, only down to 50 at night, this past 2 weeks–instead of our usual 40s-to-high-60s, with frequent frosts at night until at least this point if not into April.

    And read somewhere that all over the US, there have been more than 2000 reports from various areas of record breaking high temps. While the lush display of color all at once, with the rapid greening of the grass and trees is quite beautiful, it also carries a sinister overtone: Global Warming. Is anyone else concerned about this? It seems the P is on the verge of its self-induced rush to doom, and that it is probably too late to do much about it. Except to learn survival skills, I guess.

  129. Hari

    btw–one thing I greatly appreciate about the WBTP fb page is the great diversity of thought introduced, including some that is inexplicably demonized by some radfems. This in spite of the facts that: 1) I much appreciate Twisty’s singular perspective and 2) a few people there insist on saying things like “we hear you but you’re still *wrong*”, rather than “we hear you and still *disagree*”. That is, a few there find it hard to avoid the P’s dogmatic there-is-only-one-right-way tendencies, and difficult to grant mutual respect. But no place is perfect–and WBTP is most often interesting and enjoyable.

  130. pandechion

    Hari, this is the first spring in my entire life that I haven’t enjoyed. There are so many ways in which civilization could– and probably will– run off the rails, and soon. I think this is the beginning of the end. Flood, drought, hurricanes, tornadoes. Food shortages, overcrowding, disease. What can we do? All I can ever come up with is: love each other. Be kind to each other as it all falls down. The only thing I really resent is that, thanks to these forebodings, I’m being robbed of my capacity to enjoy the natural world, which– other than my love for my daughter– is the finest thing I’ve ever felt.

    Katherine, I put my daughter in an early-learning center when she was six months old. I did it because I had to, and felt awful about it at first, but I’d do it again in a heartbeat. She’s being raised by a community of strong and intelligent women. They have her by day, I get her nights and weekends. It’s ridiculously expensive, though. No way I could afford it without her father’s money. And when I think about how miserable and soul-sick I would be otherwise, I realize that my mental health depends upon his largesse.

  131. quixote

    more on the anthro discussion: speedbudget, I wasn’t implying women weren’t fishing or hunting or whatever. I don’t remember the exact numbers, but research I’ve seen on modern hunter-gatherer societies found that women bring in 70% (80%?) of the group’s calories. That includes protein calories from fishing or game, usually small game caught efficiently and without a lot of spear-throwing.

    As for the gool ole Man the Hunter BS, I understand that current anthropological thinking is that early on it was primarily scavenging. That is, people would opportunistically try to chase the jackals, hyenas, and vultures away from found carcasses while there was still something left to eat. It’s interesting in that context that even now, people don’t actually eat fresh meat. After slaughter, meat is hung for a number of days. Freshly killed doesn’t “taste right.”

  132. rootlesscosmo

    read somewhere that all over the US, there have been more than 2000 reports from various areas of record breaking high temps. While the lush display of color all at once, with the rapid greening of the grass and trees is quite beautiful, it also carries a sinister overtone: Global Warming.

    Standard gardening guides have had to revise their climate zone maps–basic info about what can be grown in what part of the country–to reflect rising average temps, changing rainfall patterns etc. A less ideology-driven practice would be hard to imagine–they’re not trying to convince anybody of anything, they’re in the book business and their customers need reliable info. Yet many growers (including some who make their living from the soil) support candidates who deny climate change. Bizarre.

  133. stacey

    pandechion, a good point. I am extremely lucky to be a stay-at-home mom, and I wouldn’t for a moment blame any woman who wants or needs to put her kids in daycare or with family while she worked. The children are still being brought up with attachment – they grow attached to their daytime caregivers as well as their own parents – it is the *habit* of attachment that counts. I’ve always considered my kid’s preschool teachers and current teachers to be part of his “circle of attachment.”

    (And I also acknowledge the infinite variety of “family” that comprises caregiving – the people we choose to form our communities. My neighbour Nadia, for instance, who feeds our cat when we’re away, and whose dog we walk when she’s late at work… these tiny relationships in our otherwise Big Alienated Urban Existence really matter.)

  134. Hari

    Stacy–kids’ attachment to babysitters is not the same as with truly invested adults who have some time to know and love a kid as an individual–and are likely to be there for the long haul. Too many daycare institutions have too rapid a turnover of staff, and/or kids (even those lucky enough to remain in the same facility for years) are moved into the next class up as they go from infant to toddler to preschooler–so there is no continuity. Which means, new providers to get acquainted with. Routines do help kids, but we have to grant real attachment its full due, something that the P cannot provide–because its interest is solely in the production of more consumers. And those with attachment issues are much more likely to buy things to fill the unmet need for bonding with a stable community.

    Rootlesscosmo–my daughter in Maine tells me her planting zone was just raised by 2 full zones just this year, due to the crazy warm weather pattern that seems to have arrived in a permanent way. I tellya, this stuff is fully dread producing for me.

  135. IBlametheGOP

    After a hiatus from the blogosphere generally, I decided to pay you all a visit again. So hello. My user handle formerly blamed Ron Paul, but I’ve decided to upgrade.

    In the Midwest, where we live, spring started pretty much as soon as February ended. I’ve been spending several hours a day outside, and it’s working wonders on my mood. I just can’t be bothered to give a damn about my job, or lack thereof, when I’m out basking in the glory of the sun and warmth. I also put my foot down with my doctor. I learned to code like a whiz, and though my lack of dudeliness prevents me from getting jobs for now, I am also the proud owner of a brand-new Queens telephone number to broaden my search. AND finally, I’m writing again, just a bit, but it’s all about women’s issues. My forthcoming story explores (in part) the lack of access to economic opportunity that women face. It feels good to educate the masses about the facts of life for ladies like us.

    So there’s my little bit about me, me, me.

    Compliments are in order for Twisty on the re-design. This blamer is loving the shit outta the new header, layout, and everything on here. Missed you, and hope you’re enjoying the fruits of a Texas spring on the farm.

    Did anyone else see that news story mentioning that all the record-breaking warm temps occurred in the last decade or two? (Story here: http://tinyurl.com/854ujog.) Global-warming deniers won’t shut up regardless – and you can be damn sure that the next time it snows, they’ll be out in full force with their “Where’s your global warming NOW?” snark – but those of us who believe in science realize that this freaky weather points to something more pernicious. In our part of the country, the tulips are up and the trees have leaves already. Tulips are May/June flowers, normally – and trees don’t start budding until April.

    What sad, lovely weather. Every rose has its thorn. But the beauty of the blooms often serve as great distraction from the travails of patriarchy.

  136. TwissB

    @quixote, kea et al. Re women as inventors. For a maddening bit of happy-guy pseudo-science claiming that women get fewer patents than men because men are more risk-taking and keenly competitive than women (used to promote sex-segregated classes), see NPR’s Thurs. 3/22 Market Place: http://www.marketplace.org/topics/life/freakonomics-radio/closing-gender-gap-patent-filing.

    Needless to say, no reference to numerous reports about the way that guys gang up to downgrade or disregard or intimidate women to cut them out of the competition. All this “study” found was that girls were more willing to compete against girls than against boys. AMAAAZING!!!!. And host Steve Inskeep just lapped it up.

    I hope that you will be moved to tell NPR to dump Freakonomics as sexist, ignorant, and worthless claptrap..

  137. Katherine

    Katherine, I put my daughter in an early-learning center when she was six months old. I did it because I had to, and felt awful about it at first, but I’d do it again in a heartbeat. She’s being raised by a community of strong and intelligent women. They have her by day, I get her nights and weekends. It’s ridiculously expensive, though. No way I could afford it without her father’s money. And when I think about how miserable and soul-sick I would be otherwise, I realize that my mental health depends upon his largesse.

    Oh me too – in my case it was when she was 12 months old, after having had my Nigel off work for three months as well as me for 9. It was literally a life saver for me. And I use that word advisedly.

    We’ve just moved and for the most part I love the nursery she’s at – as you say, a community of independent women. On the downside, they are all very much into the gender binary and feminine performance. In their own way they are doing female pride and strength. it just so happens to include encouragement of the colour pink, and pretty princess dresses, and exhortations that women shouldn’t have hairy legs. As the book says, Cinderella Ate My Daughter.

  138. TotallyDorkin

    @TwissB
    That transcript was sickening. What a couple of fucking idiots.

    “Women probably choose to be in less prestigious and lower paying positions? Why? I dunno, it’s just what I think brah.”

    Fucking knobs.

  139. speedbudget

    Hari, what you are talking about in your last comment is why we need more government investment in better daycare and preschool. There is high turnover because the job pays shit, and it is hard to do. It is not valued because it is considered “woman’s work,” so they figure any old person will do at a minimum-wage rate.

  140. Hari

    Speedbudget–absolutely I agree with you on why there is high turnover in daycare. I didn’t want to write a huge essay on it, but I’m aware of that and do not in any way blame mothers for the conditions we must contend with. I have faced these conditions for myself/kids, and the choices for all but the best financially situated are just abysmal. IBTP totally-with special blame for capitalism as the ‘economic arm of the P’ as I see it.

    My feminism tends to include children in a big way–patriarchy is as much or more punishing and hateful of children as it is of womyn, which I’ve seen as a mom. And children have always had a special place in my heart, since I was barely in my teens. There are a lot of reasons for that–but I tend to speak on their behalf because they are so often forgotten in political discourse.

  141. Owly

    I have many, many reservations about having children, and one of them is what I how I could provide for and socialize them when they’re little. My career goals are not exactly lucrative and it’s unlikely that I will be able to afford daycare.

    It’s funny that my conservative family exalts the nuclear family, yet they raised us in a relatively communal way. They would even trade off whose turn it was to watch all the kids so the other parents could take a break or take care of business. All the adults looked out for all the children while we roamed around the neighborhood and we frequently went on outings and spent vacation time together. I still consider those people to be my family, and I’m closer to some of them than I am to my own relatives. That is something I would like to provide for a child but what if I can’t?

    Thanks to everyone for sharing their thoughts on feminist parenting, it’s fascinating. Hari, what you said about speaking for children is excellent. I also like to hear children speak for themselves, because they’re more aware than we tend to think.

  142. tinfoil hattie

    Stacy–kids’ attachment to babysitters is not the same as with truly invested adults who have some time to know and love a kid as an individual–and are likely to be there for the long haul. Too many daycare institutions have too rapid a turnover of staff, and/or kids (even those lucky enough to remain in the same facility for years) are moved into the next class up as they go from infant to toddler to preschooler–so there is no continuity.

    Speaking from a U.S.-centric viewpoint:

    I don’t think turnover of caregivers is as traumatic as this makes it sound. Kids love being in a community. They love being together, and they love the adults who take care of them (provided the adults are caring, loving adults), and they love routine, and they love gaining independence. My hackles are raised by the “truly invested adults” – I’ve never known a caregiver of my children who was not truly invested in their well-being. Know who is often NOT interested in kids’ well-being? Abusive parents, that’s who.

    Furthermore, kids “move up” because they are growing and developing. And they “move up” with their peers, so there’s plenty of continuity. We don’t live in a small society where we know only a small group of people all our lives, so “moving up” and adapting to new situations is the norm.

    Remember every day of that lovely preschool or child care facility or kindergarten, where the teachers taught you how to pour your own water, or make beautiful crafts, or where they did face painting and seed planting and singing?

    Yeah. Neither do your kids. They either have an overall sense of well-being from being consistently cared for by adults, or they don’t.

    My kid who’s 11 said: “I remember two things from preschool. Once, when I couldn’t find my stuffed bunny rabbit to bring in for ‘R’ day in the fours’ class, and once when I got poked in the eye in the twos’.”

  143. stacey

    Owly, that’s hilarious; “the village to raise a child” thing is probably derided by conservatives, and yet they don’t even realise that that is how they actually practice their own parenting. And as far as re-creating that kind of circle for your own child/ren, you can be happy in knowing that it will be a circle that *you* choose, and not one that happens to happen because of blood ties. I live in my nigel’s city, with his elderly parents and his busy sister as the blood ties for my kid, but there are several longtime friends and their kids who act as the cousins and uncles/aunts, and the families that we choose to hang out with from his school. It’s a pretty nice village, I think.

    (In non-directed conversation) It’s totally true about hearing children speak for themselves; as a kid, I was often discounted or ignored just because I was young, and therefore naiive. We’re seeing a family counsellor (for various reasons) and the stuff my kid tells her is amazing; I project so much of my own feelings onto him, it’s ridiculous. For instance, things I would have hated as a child, I try not to practice upon him, but then something else I think is totally innocuous is the thing that upsets him. It’s a great process for us to do this; however well-intentioned I am, it helps to have the outsider’s view of what’s happening with my family.

    Of course, it’s really hard to open up one’s parenting to criticism. Not everyone is willing, or can allow, that sort of penetration into their nuclear family. Yet another reason to abolish the construct; sspreading the parenting around also allows for different parenting practices to come into play, and for that dialogue to exist.

    Sorry non-parents, for hijacking.

  144. Laura

    Tinfoil Hattie ++++

    I remember finding out that the woman in charge of the 12 – 18-month-olds in my kid’s daycare had 10 years of experience with that specific age group. I thought she would be a terrific resource, and I was right. And she cared very much for my daughter, and remembered her years later. All of my daughter’s daycare providers were good. She’s 25 years old now, so I’m sure any lasting harm would have showed up if it was going to.

    My mother grew up on a farm in Mississippi with seven sibs. Everybody, even the toddlers, had to go out into the fields every day. If her mother had had the option of sending the kids to a brightly colored, air-conditioned, child-centered daycare, she would have thought that was the best thing ever.

    I hate the mommy wars and I wish we didn’t do that to each other.

  145. Hari

    Golly, tinfoil hattie, I guess I am now duly slapped. Feel better now? Feel securely superior in your ultimate knowledge of children/culture/class, so far above mine? Get over yourself already. Once upon a time you thought I had some good blaming in me–then I insulted a friend of yours, in your opinion. Move on. Or don’t, just know I’m really not impressed with what is clearly your little vendetta and I doubt others here want to see you play it out endlessly, either.

    The fact that I care so much about children, and have tended to pay attention to what is going on for them in this world–not just for my own kids, or my friends’ and relations’ kids, but kids all over–and the fact that I have close ties with people from various cultures in my work (at their homes), gives me a pretty broad perspective on kids and family. It seems perhaps many here either can afford to pay for above average childcare, or don’t have kids and only know secondhand about their friends’ arrangements. IBTP for the situation, not mothers–and almost as much as Global Warming scares me, so does the situation for our children. There are a lot of well-considered reasons for that, whether or not anyone else agrees.

  146. buttercup

    The facebook group is pretty good. Some annoyances but nothing that can’t be overcome by ignoring posters who annoy the living shit out of you. There’s that one admin who is totally power mad but other than that, it’s ok. (Implied emoticon omitted)

  147. tmi

    @rootlesscosmo You mentioned lullabyes as women’s music, but women have often had their own work songs, too. Just from Scotland, I have recordings of “waulking” songs, which were used by groups of women fulling cloth, which worked similarly to sea chanties in getting everyone working together and providing entertainment, spinning songs, songs to sing to a cow you’re milking. Work songs are more important when you’re working in groups, but then, women have always had more incentive to work in groups, even if the modern nuclear model stops them.

  148. speedbudget

    Hari, whoa. All I saw was tinfoil making the point that kids are able to bond with some fully-invested caregivers. Women are in an untenable situation, getting it from both ends when they have to work to support their family and doing the best they can. The only “continuity” you can guarantee kids in a caregiver situation is to hire a nanny or governess. Kids will always move up in grades or forms and leave teachers and caregivers behind, only to meet new ones. It doesn’t break the kids.

  149. Friend of Snakes

    Jeez, Hari, what’s up with that attack on Tinfoil Hattie? I honestly don’t get it.

  150. Hari

    You are right, speedbudget, womyn are indeed in an untenable situation. I have been all too painfully aware of this for quite some time–part of what has been untenable for me was what my kids have had to go through, due to the dearth of good choices available in the P on any level, really–work, family, sustenance, community. I oldest entered school 25yrs ago, and my last kid is now in 8th grade. I recently had a long talk with the school social worker about getting my son a standing library pass for lunch period (after he eats he still has 1/2 hr), because having to be constantly surrounded by the bullying and general atmosphere of verbal and physical violence really gets to him–he needs a break.

    Anyway, me and social worker talked at length about the changes in kids and families over this time (she’s my age, in her 50s, and has been working in schools 30yrs). I ventured the opinion, that she much agreed with, that there are general changes for the worse in kids–more violence and acting out, more unhappiness and angst, more kids on behavioral/mood drugs, more discipline issues, earlier and earlier sexualization (my son got his first offer of sex from a girl at age 10–she was 10 also, and expressed great eagerness to get started, I saw her notes to him).

    Obviously, multiple factors of the P play into this–and I am convinced that one big factor is lack of stable, attached community, which is extremely difficult to come by anymore. No, this is NOT womyn’s fault. And children don’t break just from having some changes in caregivers. It is more about constant changes in caregivers and community, for most kids there is little stability at all, and way too much stress on the moms. I don’t say this to put more guilt on anyone–it’s like any other form of patriarchy blaming, if we see it we can respond to it in some way. I want womyn to know ALL the ways the P sucks, for womyn as well as our children–because I believe that only by confronting the awful realities does anyone take action. Nice that some kids only remember getting poked in the eyes once at preschool–because in the news, there are plenty of stories of sexual and physical abuse, even deaths at daycares. Kids ARE being broken by the system, in fact. The conditions at public schools are largely a mess. IBTP, of course. And hope for great enough awareness to prompt action.

  151. TotallyDorkin

    Hari,
    I’m wondering when this golden age of stable American communities happened exactly? Because everything you’re saying sounds a lot like some sort of crappy ’50s nostalgia. Exactly which generation got to grow up in stable attached communities free of child abuse?

  152. TwissB

    @tmi – One of my favorite Hebridean songs is a lullaby – “The Fidgety Babe.” Do you know it?

  153. TwissB

    Correction re NPR Market Place clip: the host must have been the annoying Kai Ryssdal, not the even more annoying Steve Inskeep.

  154. tinfoil hattie

    Hari, I don’t have a vendetta against you, and I have no idea who or what you are talking about – I barely remember what I post day-to-day, much less what others post. So, you’ll have to carry on this faux enmity yourself.

    Furthermore, I expressed an opinion that differs from yours. It’s quite a leap for you to say that my response constitutes a “slap,” and a bigger leap to claim that my differing experience and rebuttal of your opinion are tantamount to my claiming I am somehow “better” than you. What does that even mean, anyway?

    Project your stuff into the ether if you wish, but I’ll leave it where you dumped it, since it most assuredly does not belong to me.

  155. janicen

    tinfoil hattie @ 11:16 am – Even though children don’t remember specifics about their teachers in preschool or daycare, it’s still very important for the children to have a stable environment. The best daycare facilities are the ones with low employee turnover rates. Changing teachers frequently, even if they are all equally qualified and caring, causes tremendous stress to the children. It’s similar to the stress of getting a new boss at work but even more so because children that young don’t have the capacity to understand the changes. We’re learning more and more about the hormonal changes that occur when under stress and some of those changing hormone levels can influence behavior in childrenand certainly overall health. I’m in no way advocating a single caregiver or stay at home parent. Children benefit greatly from being exposed to different caregivers. I am convinced that my daughter was better off attending daycare where she was taught many different things that I know I would have missed. A stable daycare environment is better than one with a high turnover rate. Children don’t remember specifics from the early years, but they can suffer adverse effects from the impact of instability.

  156. josquin

    For several years I was a traveling pre-school/day- care music teacher, and it practically broke my heart. Out of every ten pre-schools and daycare centers I visited, perhaps only one or two did not make me sad and ill at ease. So many of the employees either seemed to actively hate the children, or were profoundly indifferent to them. Remember, these were “good” programs with directors who could afford to hire me, a relatively expensive music teacher, to come provide an extra perk for the children, and yet all I could think was that these parents had NO IDEA how their kids and babies were being treated. Yes, a couple of places were lovely: truly devoted and nurturing adults who had a positive impact on their little students every day, but so many were very depressing places. The bottom line is this: the work of caring for these very young children is extremely important, and needs to be treated as such so that teachers and care-givers can be paid a decent wage. Most of these workers were underpaid, burned out, and the children in their care were paying a hard price for their bitterness or indifference.
    So glad to be teaching in a different environment now.

  157. Linden

    @TotallyDorkin — Exactly. At the elementary school I went to for part of my childhood, spanking with the big paddle was still in style, and they used it on me for reading when I was supposed to be studying multiplication. Schools don’t do that anymore. Also, even just 10 years ago schools didn’t care much about bullying, and certainly when I was in school and my friends and I were bullied, we were on our own. At my children’s school, they teach so much about bullying that really I wish they’d dial it back a bit. Some things do change for the better.

  158. shopstewardess

    The same problems that arise with child care arise with care for the disabled and the elderly. The P dumps on all those who can’t stand up for themselves.

    Going back to the subject of spring, twenty years ago I worked for someone who was involved in the early negotiations on the Kyoto climate change convention. They said then that global warming was just the mechanism, and in many parts of the world inhabited by the rich, developed nations sounded relatively benign. They then added that the outcome of the mechanism of global warming would be climate destabilisation. That doesn’t sound benign wherever you are.

    That’s two counts on which to be afraid for the future, and two good reasons for not having more children.

  159. tinfoil hattie

    @janicen, I think I said almost the exact same thing you’re saying, with regards to consistency.

    More musings: Caretaking of children is hard, constant, fairly thankless work. Therefore it’s relegated to “women’s work,” ensuring the hours will be long, the pay low, and the recognition nonexistent. If we were to re-think how we care for children, seeing them as valuable members of a community instead of as property, we might be more invested in caring for them as a community.

  160. speedbudget

    As a former teacher, had I been made aware of a 10-year-old propositioning another child for sex, my first thought would be to send it to the school counselor for a thorough review to make sure the girl hadn’t been sexually abused.

  161. Hari

    TotallyDorkin–I am not talking about “50s nostalgia”…although, since I was born in the 50s I do remember that neighborhoods were more stable and children could bond with people in other families who lived nearby (I remember watching this change, too, to the nearly constant neighborhood turnover that occurs now–mainly due to the demands and dehumanizing shortcomings of capitalism). I remember neighborhood schools where teacher turnover was fairly slow, as opposed to the ‘attendance centers’ we have now–where children are shipped to separate K-1, 2-3, 4-5, 6-8 schools elsewhere in their towns (where perhaps 1 of the schools they might attend are actually in their neighborhood). I’m not saying abuse didn’t exist–abuse of the vulnerable is standard for patriarchy–and it’s definitely getting worse. But I do remember, for instance, that I was able to get relief from my own family’s abuses by bonding with other families and remember some notable adults who gave me nurturing unavailable at home and thus saved my sanity. These were people who were in my neighborhood for most of my growing up years…something hard to come by in this era.

    But what I am referencing is nothing really american at all. I’m talking about the way humans lived all over the world for many thousands of years–many in non-patriarchal societies–where family and community stability was much more of a given. Read Jean Liedloffs’ The Continuum Concept, which is drawn from her life with an Amazon people over a some years, to get an idea of what I mean. We really don’t have much sense of what attachment and committed community can really mean, because we are so accustomed to the relative isolation of the nuclear family and the great mobility of families in various ways (whether via divorce/remarriage, or just moving from here to there for work/financial reasons). People who will watch your pets while you’re away, or that you can swap some babysitting with, is not at all the same thing as having longterm bonds with people who have your back through thick and thin, where deep mutual concern with survival, and for all the children in the community, is a given. I have seen this kind of community in the Plain communities I serve in my work, and I see the enormous benefits of it to all the people (not to idealize people who are, after all, merely human; still, they have attachment and active concern for each other that we ‘English’ know little of. Do any of us have a whole flock of people who will come in and take care of us as newly-birthing moms for some weeks? Or a community that will together help us pay catastrophic medical bills or auto-collision costs?)

    Linden–yes, there are school programs on bullying. And they have almost NO effect. As the social worker at my school said, so many kids arrive with deep emotional issues and tremendous ongoing stressors in life–and few parents at home are teaching loving behavior, whether because they are mainly absent due to work demands, or are under so much intense chronic stress themselves that they bully their children. The schools are expected to teach ‘values’ but can make little headway against the forces of life at home and in the neighborhoods which are the real substance and main examples in children’s lives. Yes, there has always been bullying. Now, it is truly rampant–and the schools can do programs, and implement punishments, but they are making little headway. I was actually bullied by a teacher this year–while the principal looked on and has spent all year blaming me and excusing her behavior.

    Janicen and Josquin–thank you! You see what I mean from your own witnessing and understanding of children.

  162. Hari

    Thanks for that, tinfoil hattie. Next time you ream me out so vigorously, or make claims to understand something better than I do, I’ll ignore you, knowing that nothing you read here, or say here, has any real meaning for you anyway. That’s a relief.

  163. TotallyDorkin

    Thank you, Hari, for taking the time to answer my questions so thoroughly. I appreciate it very much.

    There is definitely much to be said with the increasingly institutional way we deal with children. I know children who are given 80 mg of adderall each day, and the acceptability of this shocks me to no end. It is evidence of the Ps view of young people as black box machines that should be drugged, cuffed, or beaten until their behavior is considered “right” without a thought for what is actually going on inside their heads. Behaviorism reigns supreme because until a person reached “adulthood”, they are barely human in the eyes of the law. IBTP

  164. Linden

    Hari — Your experience at your children’s school with anti-bullying programs may be bad. Mine’s been better. My son is the target of an anonymous bully right now who is writing graffiti about him in the school bathroom. The principal has been calling me at work with regular updates about the steps she’s been taking to uncover who is doing it — I didn’t even have to contact her first. I can’t help but be impressed. And this is a public school in a mixed urban area, not a rich white suburb.

    Perhaps anti-bullying programs can only do so much to fix the problem, but bullying wasn’t even considered the school’s problem in any way when I was school-age. I was blatantly bullied from third through fifth grade with no repercussions for anyone involved, and I think the staff of my high school would have sacrificed students on an altar if it meant the football team would continue winning, even though the football jocks were the biggest bullies in the school and everyone knew it. I think there’s at least a recognition these days that bullying shouldn’t happen, though of course when it interferes with the goals of the P, the will to act against it weakens.

  165. speedbudget

    @TotallyDorkin, I blame the assembly-line way we have of doing education. When you are trying to force everyone to be an audio learner, you have to drug up the ones who are mainly visual or kinetic or any other modality of learning so they won’t fidget and/or get bored.

  166. tinfoil hattie

    @Hari, please stop attacking me. Just. Stop. I have not made one personal attack on you. I am respectfully requesting that you take your misplaced rage and put it somewhere else.

    As a former teacher, had I been made aware of a 10-year-old propositioning another child for sex, my first thought would be to send it to the school counselor for a thorough review to make sure the girl hadn’t been sexually abused.

    Yup. That’s exactly the path I would take, too. Kids don’t learn to proposition each other for “sex” just because they’re natural-born predators of other children. If a 10- or 11-year-old is asking another kid of that age to engage in graphic sexual acts, something else is going on.

  167. Hari

    TotallyDorkin–glad I didn’t blow you away with my essay. This is stuff I’ve thought about, read about and avidly observed for a long time now–starting with having my own first kid 33yrs ago and being determined that she would have it better than I did, growing up (the P being what it is, the results have been mixed, for sure, but mostly I’m happy with my own input to her and my other kids’ lives, anyway). I looked–still do–for many sources of info and inspiration around the world and over time, as well as noticing the evidence of harm of the P on all of us womyn and children (and at my age, now starting to attend more to the elderly as well).

    Speedbudget–I agree about assembly line education and it’s emphasis on listening and reading. Also, especially until probably age 12 or so (w/individual variations) it is just not possible to thoroughly educate kids in groups larger than about 10 per adult (5 is more like it). Addressing individual variations in brain development and learning style is an important reason for this, but there are also such big variations in emotional development to consider. IBTP–knowing many fine teachers and admins, the limitations of mass education are just not their fault. Age segregation of kids is a problem in so many ways, along with generally segregating kids from the rest of life; standardizing curriculum and teaching methods, grading systems–all just more of the P’s industrialization/mass production mentality that is doing nothing so well as producing consumers. I could say I’ve been lucky to be able to do some homeschooling, and otherwise be there a lot for my kids during their school years–but choosing this has meant choosing poverty, which has had its own damaging impact on us.

  168. speedbudget

    Okay, my post just disappeared into the ether, so if it double posts, sorry.

    Great video.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDZFcDGpL4U

  169. speedbudget

    Post in moderation. Help please!

  170. tinfoil hattie

    Ruminating on heartwarming nature crap: DC cherry blossoms have come & gone – well, will be gone after this rain. I missed ‘em this year. I love going to the Tidal Basin & just reveling in their beauty. They peaked two weeks early, with this bizarre warm weather we’ve been having. Not enough sun in my yard for many flowering plants. We have dozens of big old trees. Have considered getting some taken out so we can plant vegetables. VERY expensive, though.

    Sigh.

  171. Jenni

    I would like to submit the following for review by the Blametariat. http://mwillett.org/2012/03/the-right-to-know/ I debate this guy over at Intelligent Debate and he’s harped on this for years. My answer revolves somewhere around “I generally agree but am too annoyed with Dudenation to care that much and think if you really wanted to know who’s using your sperm for what you could always get a vasectomy and solve the problem.”

    “It is not defensible to give women rights they never had before such as recognizing rape in marriage as a crime, ensuring equal pay in the teeth of the free operation of the labour market , ruling offside recruitment interview questions that ask women whether they intend to get pregnant and at the same time to allow women to cling on to the right to lie to men. How can women hold their heads up high when the law is securing them new rights they never managed to achieve without it and at the same time clinging on to the low animal right to lie to men, to slap men without retaliation, to fight with hair-pulling and nails and when push comes to shove the “right” to destroy a man’s entire life plans by knowingly deceiving him into bringing up a family of her bastards while he thinks they are the fruit of his loins.”

    It all sounds so very whiny. So I ask for your perspectives, since I am new to this- what points would you make? Am I wrong and he has a legit point?

  172. janicen

    @tinfoil hattie – I’m sorry if I misinterpreted your earlier comment. I guess I seized on one part of your comment that resonated with some of my experiences with daycare.

    I missed seeing the cherry blossoms this year. I have fond memories of strolling around the tidal basin basking in their beauty. I won’t miss it next year.

  173. rootlesscosmo

    @Jenni:

    real quick:

    How can women hold their heads up high when the law is securing them new rights they never managed to achieve without it
    How does he bear the awful shame of rights like freedom of speech that are secured to him by law? Oh, wait: that’s a human right, and (cf. Catharine MacKinnon) women aren’t human.

    clinging on to the low animal right to lie to men, to slap men without retaliation, to fight with hair-pulling and nails and when push comes to shove the “right” to destroy a man’s entire life plans by knowingly deceiving him into bringing up a family of her bastards while he thinks they are the fruit of his loins.”

    Say what? Where’s the evidence for this “without retaliation” crap? What’s this “family of her bastards” crap when the courts are perfectly willing to accept scientific evidence of paternity when it’s challenged?

    And what’s this “lying” crap? If he’s claiming he never told a lie, then that (along with most of the rest of the paragraph) is a howling lie right there. But why bother trying to have a discussion with this bozo? He’s not debating, he’s just venting woman-hatred. Cf. Twisty: “Men hate you.” This particular one seems to hate you in particular, but he hates women in general, and nothing you say–nothing whatsoever–will make the slightest impact on him, though an axe-handle upside the skull might.

  174. ivyleaves

    Here is the central problem, Jenni, with that quoted passage:

    “How can women hold their heads up high when the law is securing them new rights they never managed to achieve without it”

    The law (men) is doing women a favor, and now they owe the law (us men) some concession in social norms, the same norms they were fighting in the first place. Besides totally overlooking the fact that the only rights any person has are those that are protected by law or society; totally overlooking that women are the ones who fought to get those laws, so they did manage to achieve them; totally overlooking laws that are on the books, but never actually enforced; he is now expecting women to do the work of securing men their own freedom from gender prison.

    I suggest he talk to men about how they are expected to get hit by women without complaining, because I suspect if they did complain, that same law would smite the woman pretty dang quickly, more quickly than abusive men in many cases. As far as paternity, has he never heard of DNA testing? Then he would know the truth. He might also know the truth that in many cases, paternity is irrelevant to support, that by law, the children a woman has “belong” to the man she is married to, and the actual father has no rights, since kids in the past were viewed as cheap farm labor to be exploited.

  175. shnurki

    “The right…to slap men without retaliation, to fight with hair-pulling and nails…” I don’t have nails, and I find hair-pulling really distasteful. What about fighting with my teeth/feet? I doubt I could do that without retaliation, as it’s not adequately feminine. The last person I bit (after he pushed me into a pile of trash and gripped me up from behind) punched me and swung a broken bottle at me. (I did manage to run away.) I bit a friend’s older brother when I was 9 when he slammed me down on the ground really hard. (I’m sure I’d done something annoying to him, but I don’t think it compared.) He bloodied my nose in retaliation, and as I remember, his mom reprimanded him for hurting me but my bite was greeted with aaaaabsolute shock and horror by all surrounding adults.

    My heart goes out to a lot of MRAs- I feel like many are patriarchy blamers in denial. (????!???!???)

    But this guy, mehh, not so much?

  176. tinfoil hattie

    @janicen, not at all! Just thought we were making similar points, is all.

  177. shnurki

    “The law (men) is doing women a favor, and now they owe the law (us men) some concession in social norms, the same norms they were fighting in the first place.” Yes, totally– I think that’s the key point here.

  178. speedbudget

    Jenni, guys like that, you just ignore them. There is nothing you can say or do, because they will continue to move the goalposts on you.

  179. stacey

    Or you can tl:dr him and say, “What is the question? I wasn’t able to tell.” BECAUSE HE WENT ON AND ON AND ON.

  180. Jenni

    Thanks for the analysis! I didn’t even catch the point Ivyleaves found I just sort of “felt” like there was some bullshit afoot here, that was a great one! It’s from his blog, but the point has been brought up in debate repeatedly whenever there is an opportunity for it. And I never know how to address it because in general I do agree that people have a right to ask a question. Yet, he makes it sound like there are scores of women waiting outside men’s windows to steal used condoms to impregnate themselves, it’s all so over-dramatic.
    You ladies’ wisdom overwhelms meh :)

  181. Hari

    Jenni– “he makes it sound like there are scores of women waiting outside men’s windows to steal used condoms to impregnate themselves” THAT. Right there, that’s the answer you should give him (only change the ‘he makes it sound like’ to ‘you make it sound like’, of course. And then tell ‘im, using the rest of that sentence, something like ‘Dude, I’m not going to say anything more to you, because the way you talk? “it’s all so over-dramatic.” See, you already knew what to say, you just didn’t realize it until you said it to us.

    Well, or just ignore him for the womyn-hating, whiny, privileged asshat he clearly is, clearly undeserving of your energy.

  182. Jen

    Jenni,

    Here is my interpretation of what the woman-hating, whiny, privileged asshat said. (Don’t worry; I’m a professional MRA translator.)

    I need to make money more than the women I know. I need sex from my wife (ex-wife, future wife, imaginary wife) whether she wants to give it or not. I need women to divulge details about their uteruses, or how they intend to use their uteruses, if I (or any other man) ask. I need for women to always tell the truth, especially about sex and their uteruses. I need for the law to protect men from women. I need for women to deal with their own problems without expecting the law will protect them. I need for women to always be morally upright, even though men define what “morally upright” means for women. I need women to fight with hair-pulling and nails because it turns me on. I need to think of women as animals. I need for women to refrain from slapping me, even if I say something offensive (and I often do). I need sympathy because women have lied to me. I need for my woman to monogamous so that there is no danger I will share any resources with children who are not biologically mine. I need for someone to put a breast in my mouth; I’m an enormous man-baby. Need need neeeeeeed.

  183. tinfoil hattie

    MRA Dude’s got an interesting definition of “rights.” They are not something one human being can bestow upon another human being. They are taken away with great regularity, though. Dude is furious that someone tried to correct that injustice. Isn’t satisfied that by and large, women’s rights are still bought, sold, and traded away by patriarchy.

    @friend of snakes: Thx, BTW.

  184. Cyberwulf

    Did anyone else get a load of MRA-guy’s hypothetical about an “underage virgin” stealing sperm out of a condom, freezing it, and using it to have a child every five years until she’s fifty and milking the guy for child support? Fucking hell, what are we doing wasting our time talking about rape and bodily autonomy when this kind of dastardly shit is legal?

    “I think a man has the right to know whether he is the father of a child and should be able to ask that this be tested.”

    Do men not have that right already?!

    “There is of course another vitally important right to know in regard to paternity, that is the right to know that the claimed paternity of claimants to titles and the monarchy is genuine. [...] Don’t we have the right to know that we have not been cuckolded by a devious princess? Ought we to know whether a sickly royal child has been replaced with a foundling?”

    Oh my Science.

  185. Sara Wolf

    Hi fellow blamers,

    So, in the spirit of the “current war on women” (New and Improved, with more legislation!), a legislator from my home state of Wisconsin has announced that women should never, ever leave a marriage, even if said marriage is abusive in any or all possible ways. This same delightful individual recently sponsored other legislation which officially penalizes single mothers as the font of all child abuse. No, I’m not kidding. I wish I had something witty and awesome to say about it, but being a survivor of child abuse myself I’m still pretty shocked and upset. Anyways, I bring this to your attention because me and a few of my fellow Wisconsin citizens who would still like the option to leave a life threatening situation without having to wear a red “A” for life are trying to get other women to sign an online petition pointing out the utter stupidity of this man’s comments. We’re especially hoping for concrete stuff to put a human face (so to speak) to the awfulness of domestic and child abuse, i.e. “I’m signing this petition for the childhood friend who showed up to school with bruises,” etc. So, if you’ve got a minute, please consider heading over and cosigning with us. I apologize that I am not terribly computer-knowledgeable and I don’t remember which html tags mean what, so here are the links in clunky, digitally ignorant long form:

    A quick article about the statement in question:
    http://shine.yahoo.com/love-sex/wisconsin-lawmaker-says-women-stay-abusive-marriages-232700220.html

    And the petition: http://www.change.org/petitions/don-pridemore-retract-his-damaging-statement-that-women-should-stay-with-abusive-spouses

    We really appreciate any support. Between this godbag, the recent recension of the Equal Pay Act, eight million attacks on PP, and just generally dealing with kicking mah-daddy’s-a-preacher! Scott Walker out of the state, we have really had our hands full.

    Thanks very much for your time, and happy blaming!

  186. qvaken

    First of all, the MRA piece was painful to read because his comma placement is atrocious. Has he not heard of dashes or semicolons? For example, “Making biological fathers pay makes no sense other than the same sense that speed cameras make, proof is easy and clear cut.”

    “It is not right that a man be used as a sperm donor…” While reading, the imagery that I got was of a man shooting his ejaculate all over the place like his penis were a laser cannon. (Pzyoo! Pzyoo!) He knows that he has the right to do so, and thinks that he should have protection from any consequences thereof.

    Introducing hypothetical examples into a conversation is useless and distracting to begin with, but an extreme example such as he mentioned – of an “underage virgin girl stealing sperm” (because adult whore women are openly oppressed, so he must now focus his energy on those female demographics who are managing to escape proactive legal suspicion) – suggests that he is very ready to throw off important discussions about public health issues and seriously waste people’s time. Statistics telling us that one in four women in Australia have experienced sexual violence in their lifetime, for example, constitute a public health issue and illustrate the need for change; hypothetical situations, however, are unalterable constructed narratives that serve only as fables.

    Also, an underage girl exhibiting extremely sexual behaviour (and knowingly playing with discarded semen and inserting it into oneself is extremely sexual and perverted) is likely to be a sign of some serious abuse.

    Complaining about women achieving rights to bring them closer and closer to equality with men is either a threat (if he has the power to take them away – and if he earns the majority of his family’s income or owns their home, for instance, then he does) or a resentful lamentation over the negligible diminishment in his privileges as dominant male.

  187. qvaken

    Crvapen, I have a comment in moderation, but I misquoted a statistic therein. One in FIVE Australian women have experienced sexual violence, not one in four.

  188. speedbudget

    Cyberwulf, I think what he is referring to there is this one time when he (or some d00d he knows) was having a fight with his wife/sig. other, in the heat of battle, in order to hurt her, he claimed the child wasn’t his cause she is just a slut. Then she, rightfully, got mad, and told him to go fuck himself, and he has been nursing that for years. “Waaaahmbulance, she should have run right out and gotten a paternity test to assuage my doubts!”

    Feh.

  189. shnurki

    Since Twisty’s original post concerns reproduction, I thought I’d share this for the sake of cyclicality (sort of): http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/8390055.stm It’s about scientists breeding more resilient lab mice using genetic material from two mothers instead of a mother and father. I know, we’re not mice, and what the lady scientist says at the end about environmental factors being key in male/female longevity makes more sense than anything else in the article, but it’s still fun.

  190. Katherine

    Shnurki – that article was very interesting, but I got rather infuriated here:

    The researchers said in nature males tended to concentrate resources on building a large body, because strength and bulk help them fight for mating opportunities with females.

    In contrast, females tended to conserve energy for breeding and providing for their offspring.

    Not that I think that’s necessarily untrue on the face of it (although it lumps all “females” together with all “males” as though there were no variation throughout nature whatsoever, and no overlap between the two) – but it demonstrates an interestingly male-centric way of thinking.

    They (the researchers) have looked at their results and thought – why are men’s lives foreshortened? Because they need big bodies for fighting – rather than thinking – why are women’s lives longer? Because…. Or even, god forbid, and combination of both, covering all angles.

    Women conserving energy for breeding and providing for their offspring does not, for example, explain why women live longer. That statement is just an unconcluded counterpoint to the “men’s bodies are bulky”. Female compared to male, as ever, rather than male compared to female. Or biological sexes compared to each other.

  191. speedbudget

    Katherine, another problem, besides the great one you point out, is that might be true for the particular species of animal the researchers are looking at here, but that does NOT necessarily mean it’s true for humans. We live life a whole different way than mice do.

  192. kate

    Hayfever medication; there were some posts about hayfever earlier in this thread. Local honey helps, as does lots of water and staying inside in the Spring. But lets not forget Big Pharma who gave us Beconase (trade name in Australia, may be different elsewhere), active ingredient is beclomethasone dipropionate. You spray it up your nose, you have to be disciplined enough to do that for 7 days until the cumulative effect happens. Then magically you no longer have hay fever and its not part of your life any more. One spray every second day can be enough to keep the symptoms under control. This is such a recognised solution for hay fever that you don’t even need a prescription for it.

  193. ew_nc

    Since this is an open thread, I’d like to ask a question. Can anyone give me some information about Susie Bright? Is she the founder of sex pos feminism or something? During some Kindle searching, I caught a synopsis of a book of hers that “thanks” Andrea Dworkin for taking her extreme stance on porn because it brought about the sex positive movement. Once I stopped gagging, I became curious about Ms. Bright, but can’t get any real information. Anyone?

  194. Jezebella

    Y’all! JAMES TIPTREE, JR.!!! I picked up her last book of short stories, Crown of Stars, at the thrift store the other day, and could not put it down once I picked it up. No WONDER Alice Sheldon published with a man’s name – she gets in all kinds of feminist asides in addition to blatantly feminist and environmentalist ideas, and I bet no one batted a lash when a “dude” sent in the manuscript. She does that awesome speculative fiction type of sci-fi that LeGuin and Atwood are also so good at.

  195. squiggy

    Thrilling, Jezebella! I went immediately to my library’s database and will soon have 4 books by her as well as her biography! Oh, joy!!

  196. speedbudget

    Jezebella, I’m in a book club, and I like to sneak in feminist literature every time I can. We’ve been on this long, boring kick of WWII novels, and I want something completely different. Is there a novel by Tiptree or another feminist author you can recommend?

  197. tmi

    @Twissbee It sounds familiar, but my ipod says I have nothing by that name. I wonder if I have it in a book somewhere; although most of the folk music books I have is American, really, there’s not much difference.

    Re: James Tiptree Jr, the funniest bit about that is the resistance of certain people (Harlan Ellison) to the idea of her being a woman. She also wrote under several other pseudonyms. Her work is often feminist but rarely uplifting, beware.

  198. rootlesscosmo

    Is there a novel by Tiptree or another feminist author you can recommend?

    Not a novel but a short story collection: Tess Slesinger, On Being Told That Her Second Husband Has Taken His First Lover, and other stories. Slesinger published that and a novel, The Unpossessed (haven’t read it) in the 30′s, went to Hollywood and worked as a screenwriter (including on Dorothy Arzner’s “Dance, Girl, Dance”), died in her forties of cancer.

  199. Laura

    I LOVE Tiptree. I love it that Robert Silverberg insisted that Tiptree “had” to be a man because he could TELL. I hate that she wrote under a man’s name because she was tired of being the first-woman-this-or-that; I mean, I understand why she did it but I regret the necessity. I think “The Last Flight of Doctor Ain” is one of the most well-crafted stories I’ve ever read. It’s poetic, like some of The Martian Chronicles, but it’s got a lot of depth, which those stories typically don’t. And timely – I keep thinking about it when I read about, for instance, avian flu research.

    Not too sure about specifically feminist, but I recommend Maureen McHugh. Start with China Mountain Zhang, which was her first novel, and which won multiple awards. Actually, I’d like to get some folks’ here thoughts about her work.

    I also enjoy Connie Willis. Not as thought-provoking (and possibly downright painful) as McHugh but a lot of fun. There’s a certain amount of boy-meets-girl in the plot usually but I don’t find it ridiculous or strained, or that it takes over too much of the actual plot.

  200. TwissB

    @tmi – It was careless of me to give you a slightly incorrect song title. Google “The Fidgety Bairn” and you will find lots of references to it, especially as sung by Kathleen Ferrier.

  201. squiggy

    Oh rootlesscosmo! I;m so excited! No Tess Slesinger at my library so I bit the bullet and bought the husband one and her hipster NYC book, used, online. I’m so happy to have some books on the way that don’t piss me off!

  202. rootlesscosmo

    @squiggy: Oh, they might, but probably not Nigelishly. People who have read The Unpossessed say it’s got a lot in common with Mary McCarthy’s slightly later writing about roughly the same New York lefty intellectual crowd, like “The Oasis” and “A Charmed Life.” Slesinger was pretty successful in Hollywood–”A Tree Grows in Brooklyn,” “The Good Earth”–but her writing sort of disappeared.

  203. buttercup

    Anything by Tiptree/Sheldon is good. A blamer tipped me off to Houston Houston Do You Read which I loved. Her Smoke Rose Up Forever was also amazing. I read one of her short story anthologies as well but can’t remember which one.

  204. Jezebella

    Alas, that was the first Tiptree book I’ve read, so I can’t recommend a novel, but I’ll be tracking more down directly.

    Speedbudget, has your book club read The Handmaid’s Tale? I mean, not to be overly obvious, but it has been out for over 25 years and if they’re all recommending WWII books, then maybe they haven’t read that particularly Atwood.

    Indeed, tmi, you are correct: “feminist but not often uplifting” nails it. I would guess that anyone whose life has been ruined by Twisty/IBTP/radical feminism is probably okay with Tiptree’s lack of uplifting-ness.

  205. Laura

    No kidding. “The Screwfly Solution” is about as non-uplifting as you can find. You can read it free online. I don’t think Sheldon had a particularly sunny view of male/female relations.

  206. Hermionemone

    Here is an astonishing and uplifting story from Afghanistan:
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-15262680

    Some Afghani girls dress as boys with the approval of their parents and experience gender privileges before being corralled again into life as women. Their outlooks are permanently and positively influenced by the process. Who’d have thought, in Afghanistan of all places?!

  207. speedbudget

    Jezebella, I will recommend that, along with another Atwood novel, The Blind Assassin. I have read The Handmaid’s Tale, so I was just being a little selfish in wanting to read something new. I’m going armed to the next meeting with printouts from Amazon of a few books, including China Mountain Zhang, the Atwood novels, and Infidel, which is the story of Somali-born Ayaan Hirsi Ali and how she broke out of Islam and into The Netherlands and is now “one of today’s most admired and controversial political figures.” I’m hoping the ladies are game.

    I’m just tired of reading about d00ds and their boners, you know?

  208. naomi

    Talking of Atwood, Alias Grace is particularly fine

  209. Jezebella

    You may be able to sell them on Alias Grace as there is a movie in pre-production right now. Margaret Atwood has been tweeting about it and is pretty excited about the team that’s making it happen.

    And, jeez, yes, doods and their stupid boners. I spent a year NOT reading dude writers and I swear to cod, the first three books I picked up after that year, that happened to be written by dudes, were all like “let me tell you about my boner.” I promptly put them down, whereas beforehand I might’ve kept reading. Not any more, d00ds! I know more than I ever needed or wanted to know about the literary life of the boner.

  210. ivyleaves

    Just found this for a cheap mag lens:

    http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/compound-eye/2012/03/12/transform-your-iphone-into-a-microscope-just-add-water/

  211. ps

    It must be time to plug the The Tiptree Memorial Women in SF list!

    http://www.prissears.com/ps/category/authors/james-tiptree/

  212. squiggy

    Taking copious notes about the book suggestions from y’all. Thanks ivyleaves for the water microscope for the Iphone. What a blog!

  213. Katherine

    I’ll second (third?) the recommendation for Handmaid’s Tale, Blind Assassin and Alias Grace. I don’t like all of Atwood’s books, but those three are my super favourites.

    I’ll take this moment to tell people that Handmaid’s Tale was a set text for my A-Level English Literature (16-18 years old, for non-Brits) back in the early 90′s. Looking back, this is heartens me greatly. I’ve just checked and it is still there in the syllabus for one exam board.

  214. Keri

    I know this is random but since it’s still open thread, I invite you to peruse this site which I go to to relieve tension created by all the current right wing insane godbaggery:

    http://www.jesusoftheweek.com/

    Really can produce quite the chuckle in the name of the Lord.

  215. Hari

    Fart Jesus! Truck Jesus! Jesus and Butthead! That is a good chuckle and lard knows I need one, thanks Keri (suppressing smilie insertion *here*).

  216. susanw

    First having read the book of myths,
    and loaded the camera,
    and checked the edge of the knife-blade,
    I put on
    the body-armor of black rubber
    the absurd flippers
    the grave and awkward mask.
    I am having to do this
    not like Cousteau with his
    assiduous team
    aboard the sun-flooded schooner
    but here alone.

    There is a ladder.
    The ladder is always there
    hanging innocently
    close to the side of the schooner.
    We know what it is for,
    we who have used it.
    Otherwise
    it is a piece of maritime floss
    some sundry equipment.

    I go down.
    Rung after rung and still
    the oxygen immerses me
    the blue light
    the clear atoms
    of our human air.
    I go down.
    My flippers cripple me,
    I crawl like an insect down the ladder
    and there is no one
    to tell me when the ocean
    will begin.

    First the air is blue and then
    it is bluer and then green and then
    black I am blacking out and yet
    my mask is powerful
    it pumps my blood with power
    the sea is another story
    the sea is not a question of power
    I have to learn alone
    to turn my body without force
    in the deep element.

    And now: it is easy to forget
    what I came for
    among so many who have always
    lived here
    swaying their crenellated fans
    between the reefs
    and besides
    you breathe differently down here.

    I came to explore the wreck.
    The words are purposes.
    The words are maps.
    I came to see the damage that was done
    and the treasures that prevail.
    I stroke the beam of my lamp
    slowly along the flank
    of something more permanent
    than fish or weed

    the thing I came for:
    the wreck and not the story of the wreck
    the thing itself and not the myth
    the drowned face always staring
    toward the sun
    the evidence of damage
    worn by salt and sway into this threadbare beauty
    the ribs of the disaster
    curving their assertion
    among the tentative haunters.

    This is the place.
    And I am here, the mermaid whose dark hair
    streams black, the merman in his armored body.
    We circle silently
    about the wreck
    we dive into the hold.
    I am she: I am he

    whose drowned face sleeps with open eyes
    whose breasts still bear the stress
    whose silver, copper, vermeil cargo lies
    obscurely inside barrels
    half-wedged and left to rot
    we are the half-destroyed instruments
    that once held to a course
    the water-eaten log
    the fouled compass

    We are, I am, you are
    by cowardice or courage
    the one who find our way
    back to this scene
    carrying a knife, a camera
    a book of myths
    in which
    our names do not appear.

    Adrienne Rich is dead.

  217. Jen

    “Responsibility to yourself means refusing to let others do your thinking, talking, and naming for you…it means that you do not treat your body as a commodity with which to purchase superficial intimacy or economic security; for our bodies to be treated as objects, our minds are in mortal danger. It means insisting that those to whom you give your friendship and love are able to respect your mind. It means being able to say, with Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre: ‘I have an inward treasure born with me, which can keep me alive if all the extraneous delights should be withheld or offered only at a price I cannot afford to give.’

    Responsibility to yourself means that you don’t fall for shallow and easy solutions–predigested books and ideas…marrying early as an escape from real decisions, getting pregnant as an evasion of already existing problems. It means that you refuse to sell your talents and aspirations short…and this, in turn, means resisting the forces in society which say that women should be nice, play safe, have low professional expectations, drown in love and forget about work, live through others, and stay in the places assigned to us. It means that we insist on a life of meaningful work, insist that work be as meaningful as love and friendship in our lives. It means, therefore, the courage to be “different”…The difference between a life lived actively, and a life of passive drifting and dispersal of energies, is an immense difference. Once we begin to feel committed to our lives, responsible to ourselves, we can never again be satisfied with the old, passive way.”

    ? Adrienne Rich

  218. Jen

    Not sure why a dash became a question mark. Not intended.

  219. squiggy

    You women fill my heart with peace.

  220. Keri

    Hari: Blue Sexy Jesus is one of my personal favs and yes, I am a fan of his FB page.

  221. Katherine

    I appreciate Adrienne Rich’s point, and I’d like to think that I live it as much as I reasonably can, but damn, that’s a lot to ask.

  222. Hari

    Yes Katherine–it is a LOT to ask, and it costs so much. In the P, everything is stolen from us if we won’t give it willingly, every part of ourselves is used against us in the most amazingly cunning capacity for manipulation through money, guilt, shame and even love. Yet Rich is so right–once committed to, and responsible for our lives, to our true whole selves, there is no satisfaction with anything less. I’ve paid a high price for owning my soul, and often have wondered if it was worth it. Lately, after finally emerging from the other side of some dark years mentally/emotionally, now feeling my spirit rise once more to the task of living my truth, I know (again) that this is worth any price compared to passivity and selling oneself short.

    Long live the gifts of Adrienne Rich, in the hearts and minds of womyn with a will to be free.

  223. Katherine

    I think I’m just in the dark years, then. I hope I come out of it in the same way. Good luck to you.

  224. Hari

    Those good old/bad old dark years have come around now and then for me. This time, it was a longer time than usual but then this set of years followed an abusive relationship, on top of the usual patriarchy shit. A major crash and burn, 14yrs ago, followed by some small but encouraging ups and more downs; in most of the last 2 yrs it’s been pretty damn dark! Lately I seem to have decided not to live like this anymore, plus time has brought changes like my last kid at home reaching 14. Somehow this is very significant, I see more me-time growing, and the possibility of plotting a new course without encumbrance. I don’t know if time heals all wounds, but at least it brings changes by itself that can make new choices more possible. I’m about to sell all my earthly belongings and move far away on a shoestring–the kid is willing to go on adventure with me, at least for the summer. Come fall, if he doesn’t like the look of things that have developed, well he’s got normal-life aunts and siblings who will take him in for his HS years.

  225. tinfoil hattie

    susanw, you have moved me so deeply with that beauty. Thank you.

  226. TwissB

    @Jen – March 16 – In “Nude revolutionaries” post

    @TwissB
    Returning to the subject of “personhood” for a moment, did you happen to read Soraya Chemaly’s recent article, which explains to Rep. Terry England that women are different from farm animals?

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/soraya-chemaly/womens-reproductive-rights_b_1345214.html?ref=fb&src=sp&comm_ref=false

    Sorry that I missed your link to this fine rant by Soraya back then, as well as not seeing it in HuffPost.

    It’s good to see Soraya’s numbered assertions backed by her evidence. Since she is referring to legislative action, I think that my argument is relevant that personhood must be established constitutionally for women as it is for men in order for women to be able to block at the start these mysogynist proposals that target women’s unique reproductive organs concerning pregnancy, rape, prostitution & pornography for punitive, cruel treatment. What I find frustrating is that official feminists are too craven to build these essential issues into their abstract calls for “equality.” They lack the nerve to start the discussion by asserting that “equal protection of the law” will look different and larger when women are included. That is what Diane Feinstein should have said when Antonin Scalia said correctly ” Yeah, the issue is not whether a woman’s a person. The issue is — (Feinstein: You’re right. Go on.) Scalia: The issue is, what constitutes equal protection?

    That is the context in which Soraya’s assertions and examples would have real force.

  227. squiggy

    O! Our Twisty must be lost in micro-galaxies. Phone home!

  228. Ugsome

    A propos of nothing, I spent my Sunday enhancing my blaming experience by writing a Greasemonkey script to fix up the We Blame the Patriarchy Facebook page, turning all the likes to blames and turning the thumb upside down. Ah, *much* better.

  229. Jezebella

    Speedbudget, my response to you is languishing in moderation, no doubt because I used the word b0ner one too many times whilst complaining about dudely b*ner-lit. Heh.

    Ugsome: love it.

  230. smash

    I’ve blogged: On 50 Shades of Grey and the Erotization of Male Domination http://radicalhub.com/2012/04/02/on-50-shades-of-grey-and-the-erotization-of-male-domination/

    I delve into the question: Why do some women enjoy fantasies of being dominated?

    Thanks all.

  231. speedbudget

    Jezebella, LOL

    While I didn’t get my book club to branch out and try the sci-fi or even just the Atwood mystery, they did agree to read _Beloved_ by Toni Morrison, which is just such an awesome book. However, I am nonplussed because I can’t seem to find my copy that I had with me through numerous literature courses in college and even in my own reading afterward that is annotated with all kinds of notes and jotttings and good stuff that would really help me focus my reading a lot better. Oh, well. Maybe reading it fresh will give me a new perspective.

  232. squiggy

    Smashing, smash!! Endeavoring to be up on the latest in pop culture yet being poor, I wasn’t able to get my hands on a copy of “50 Shades” as yet. I only found out a coupla days ago that it is what it is: BDSM. Thanks for your analysis and insight. Not interested in reading “50 Shades” any longer. Yuck.

  233. Jezebella

    Beloved is a tough read, but well worth the challenge. Well, everything Morrison writes is a tough read, but I honestly could make no sense of it when I was seventeen or so. I guess I was too linear at the time. Tried again a few years ago and managed to get what she was doing, finally. See? Psychedelics ARE good for your head, or at least your ability to follow non-linear, non-reality based but also entirely reality-based fiction.

  234. TwissB

    @Smash Yours is an excellent post on that BDSM cheapie that, by proximity, also allowed me to read the fine analysis of the TG move to dominate and subvert all aspects of what was once feminism.

    This was my introduction to the RadFem blog that admirably seems to have a high standard for good writing as well as sharp thinking. Thanks.

  235. susanw

    tinfoil hattie:

    I love that poem. I think it was the first thing I ever read by Adrienne Rich.

    Andrea is dead, Marilyn French is dead. Now Adrienne is dead, and MacKinnon, Jeffries and Brownmiller are getting old. They deserve more progress after lifetimes of painful work, as do we all.

  236. squiggy

    O moderation! I guess I am immoderate, it’s true.

  237. Hari

    Well, squiggy, as I remind my(immoderate)self now and then–all things in moderation, including moderation.

  238. buttercup

    Our Decorah eagles once again have three babes in the nest and are doing well.

    http://www.ustream.tv/decoraheagles

  239. ivyleaves

    I think there are 4 peregrine chicks here:

    http://www2.ucsc.edu/scpbrg/nestcamSF.htm

  240. quixote

    Peregrine chicks! Oh wow. I’ve gone over all gooey with unbearable cuteness. Baby birds are some of the only critters who can be both yuckily ugly and cute, all at once. The falcon looks very fat and satisfied, too.

  241. veganrampage

    Everybody knows Adrienne Rich died. Total bummer. This is may favorite part of of her Wiki bio.

    “Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence”, one of the first to address the theme of lesbian existence. In this essay, she asks “how and why women’s choice of women as passionate comrades, life partners, co-workers, lovers, community, has been crushed, invalidated, forced into hiding”.

    HOW? WHY?
    WE BLAME THE FUCKING PATRIARCHY.
    We know YOU knew.
    This passage narrowly upped the one which described that her Nigel “feared she had lost her mind”
    when she decided to leave him. He obligingly drove into the woods and offed himself with a gun.
    That is mean and I don’t give a shit. I live in a war zone. War is hell.

    Bye, Adrienne, bye. Goddess bless and thank you.

    Leaving a Nigel may well be the first step on the long road to mental health. Depends on who you are, what have, and what color you skin is.
    May The Goddess protect us all from these ravening fiends.

    A-womyn.

  242. TwissB

    If anyone wonders if the hoodie-wearing protesters against police inaction in the Florida “neighborhood watch” shooting were over-reacting about racist stereotypes, look at this warning video from the State of Virginia about leaving a key in the ignition of your parked car: (this refers to the video showing a woman exiting her car correctly in front of a convenience store while a red car pulls up, driver exits, leaving the key in the ignition. Note what the car theif, shown only from the rear is wearing.)

    http://www.heatreward.com/HEAT/ContactHEAT/tabid/131/sbmt/1/fmmid/478/fdid/1045/Default.aspx

    I have written to the Contact email address about the need to re-shoot this ad.

  243. TwissB

    Thief. (Rats!)

  244. alamo

    TwissB: “Note what the car theif, shown only from the rear is wearing.”

    Because in a real-life crime situation, criminals don’t try to hide their faces?

  245. Friend of Snakes

    Twiss B:

    But the hoodie-wearing thief (justifiably trying to hide his identity) is white! And in the only other video where they show a car thief, he’s a blond white greaser. So, 100 per cent of car thieves in Virginia must be white? Must we contact them about this? Honestly, why would we protest that one of the (white) thieves in a video shot before the incident in Florida is wearing a hoodie?

  246. Jezebella

    Speaking of b0ner-lit: Martin Amis! UGH! What was I thinking when I picked up one of his books? Never again, I tell you. One was more than enough. (“Dead Babies” was the one, in case you’re wondering.)

  247. shnurki

    apropos of nothing, check this out: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/08/nyregion/pasiana-rodriguez-redefines-mechanic-in-willets-point.html

    Way to make a potentially thought-provoking, moderately uplifting article into a patriarchy-endorsing yawnfest. I love the nytimes, but I feel like it’s turning into a sort of shitty paper. Or has it always been like this?

  248. rootlesscosmo

    @shnurki:
    It’s a centrist Democratic Party-favoring paper with all the elite attitudes–patriarchal, racial, class–that implies, plus a special soft spot for Israel, all thickly buttered with a smug conviction of its own superiority to every other newspaper in the country. Compared with most of the surviving big-city dailies, never mind the spittle-flecked right-wing TV and radio outlets, it does look pretty good, but that’s not a very high standard to meet. The dance and theater critics and one of the book reviewers, Michiko Kakutani, are very snarky, if that’s your cup of tea, and a couple of the Op-Ed writers are sane, though hardly thrilling.

    /editorializing

  249. Ugsome

    As an addendum to apropos of nothing I have updated FaceBlamer with Google Chrome support and blamer-appropriate ads. I spent my whole weekend on it because I cannot think of anyone more in need of a customized Internet experience than radical feminists. http://userscripts.org/scripts/show/129890

  250. huh

    “Veganrampage,” can you elaborate on how it was “obliging” for Adriene Rich’s husband to commit suicide following their breakup?

  251. Keri

    Another open thread offering for your reading pleasure. I don’t know why I let myself get drawn in to spats with these people but this is a response from someone I called a mainsplainer on a yoga blog:

    “Our society acts reluctant to recognize men as an oppressed group. The emphasis in the society is on men as agents of all oppressions. Yet thoughtful examination of the situation one can conclude that men are indeed oppressed. There is no designated group of people assigned by the oppressive society to carry out the oppression of males. ( This is different from the situation with some other oppressions, in which a particular group is ” trained and assigned” to be in the oppressive role relative to another group. For example, whites are ” trained and assigned” to install and perpetuate racism—oppression of people of color. Men are ” trained and assigned” to install and perpetuate sexism–oppression of females.) In carrying out the oppression of men, the society as a whole plays the role of the oppressor. Nearly everyone in our societies plays some role in men’s oppression and nearly everyone has rigid attitudes and ” beliefs” that are oppressive to men. It will be essential to change these widely held attitudes and beliefs.”

    New Age dudes are hilarious. Self absorption at a whole new level. And now I shall get the fuck outside and run hills with my dog.

  252. Katy German

    Hey folks, check it: Ms. Ashley Judd, talkin’ like a Blamer!

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/04/09/ashley-judd-slaps-media-in-the-face-for-speculation-over-her-puffy-appearance.html

    “That women are joining in the ongoing disassembling of my appearance is salient. Patriarchy is not men. Patriarchy is a system in which both women and men participate. It privileges, inter alia, the interests of boys and men over the bodily integrity, autonomy, and dignity of girls and women. It is subtle, insidious, and never more dangerous than when women passionately deny that they themselves are engaging in it. This abnormal obsession with women’s faces and bodies has become so normal that we (I include myself at times—I absolutely fall for it still) have internalized patriarchy almost seamlessly. We are unable at times to identify ourselves as our own denigrating abusers, or as abusing other girls and women.”

  253. Embee

    Did anyone see the Ashley Judd essay in the Daily Beast? She takes the media to task over their treatment of her offensive ugliness, fatness and plastic surgery usage. I really enjoyed it and hope you do, too.

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/04/09/ashley-judd-slaps-media-in-the-face-for-speculation-over-her-puffy-appearance.html?fwcc=1&fwcl=1&fwl

  254. Cootie Twoshoes

    Embee! I was just reading this and headed right over here to see if anyone was discussing it. It’s a biting take-down of news outlets fueling our culture’s frenzied appetite for tearing apart women. A sample:

    Consequently, I choose to address it because the conversation was pointedly nasty, gendered, and misogynistic and embodies what all girls and women in our culture, to a greater or lesser degree, endure every day, in ways both outrageous and subtle. The assault on our body image, the hypersexualization of girls and women and subsequent degradation of our sexuality as we walk through the decades, and the general incessant objectification is what this conversation allegedly about my face is really about.

    I dare not read the comments.

  255. Cootie Twoshoes

    Oh, a slew of profanities just passed my lips as I noticed that article on the Daily Beast was actually in the “Sexy Beast” section. We’re feckin’ steeped in it.

  256. Embee

    Cootie Twoshoes, I liked this part,

    “The insanity has to stop, because as focused on me as it appears to have been, it is about all girls and women. In fact, it’s about boys and men, too, who are equally objectified and ridiculed, according to heteronormative definitions of masculinity that deny the full and dynamic range of their personhood. It affects each and every one of us, in multiple and nefarious ways: our self-image, how we show up in our relationships and at work, our sense of our worth, value, and potential as human beings.”

    But yeah, Sexy Beast. Ugh.

  257. stacey

    AHAHAHAHA I have to quote this reply, which wins First Place of Not Getting the Point:

    Jakepryan
    9 Minutes Ago
    What did she write?!?!?! I understood very little if any of that. But it sounds like she’s pretty much mad at everyone. That’s sad. But on a cheerier note, her pic looks like she’s not bloated anymore, she’s lost weight and had all that bad “work” corrected. She’s back to pretty. I guess her husband is probably happier with her now. Thank goodness. There’s just too much divorce these days.

    The comments are heavily classist too – she may be uppity, but worse than an uppity woman is an educated uppity woman.

  258. Embee

    I read comments of thesame tenor on another blog. The conclusion was that she was actually just really embarassed about her appearance and trying to overcompensate for her “hillbilly” background by using “SAT words” that made her piece unreadable. Also a huge debate over whether her use of the term inter alia was appropriate.

    Except that her piece was perfectly readable and not skewed by purple prose, in my humble opinion. And it is mind-blowing to me that so much energy can be used toward NOT getting the message.

  259. ezinma

    The P responds.

  260. ivyleaves

    It should be noted that Ashley Judd got a masters degree in public administration from Harvard, yet there are tons of comments intimating that a publicist wrote what she said (as if) or other ones implying she should just fess up to having plastic surgery and stop pretending to be intellectual because she is obviously so superficial because she is an actress.

  261. Hari

    I daresay no publicist would have gone where Ashley went with her comments. Her publicist would be more likely to try to dissuade her from saying anything of the sort!

  262. Katherine

    For every ignoramus who read it went “duh, don’t understand, must insult pretty woman who can’t possibly be also clever”, I hope there’s a woman (or man for that matter) who went and looked up those words and started to understand.

    In our shallow and celebrity-obsessed world, it may just be that a hitherto shallow and celebrity-obsessed person opened her eyes because Ashley Judd said it.

  263. Fannie Farmer (Mrs.)

    This is the first time I’ve seen the word “heteronormative” in something signed by a movie star. I was impressed, actually.

  264. Jezebella

    Still an open thread? I hope so, because I’m about to be completely off-topic. I am a final candidate for a tenure-track professorship at a regional university in the deep south. I have just discovered that both of the other final candidates are men with degrees from Oxford University. In England. Who wants to bet that the tallest of the two gets the job?? I am absolutely sick with disappointment, because I fail to see how a university could possibly opt for a woman with a degree from a non-Ivy, non-European school when they could have a posh guy with an Oxford degree, even if the guy turns out to be a twit and a lousy teacher, because SHINY! DUDE!

    Sigh. Anybody need a freelance art historian?

  265. Jezebella

    More pertinent, for sure, is the action alert I link here:

    http://www.ppaction.org/site/MessageViewer?em_id=11470.0

    Remember that Personhood amendment that we beat in Mississippi last November? The one that 58% of voters said NO to? An asshat in the Mississippi lege has appended personhood language to another bill. Please, if you have time, take action by contacting our legislators. I do not speak for Planned Parenthood in any official capacity, so I feel perfectly emboldened to suggest that you use a Mississippi zip code if you don’t at this moment, live here.

    This day just gets worse and worse.

  266. Laura

    Keri – I enjoy asking men like that to stop using the passive voice.

    “Men aren’t treated with – ”

    “Stop with the passive voice.”

    “Men are taught to – ”

    “Stop.”

    “Men aren’t allowed to – ”

    “Stop.”

    and so on.

    Want to say that the catsplanations that go on in my house crack me up. One of my cats is very vocal when we have people over. Lots of earnest, emphatic meowing directed right at them. I have no idea what she is telling them but I’m sure it’s very important.

  267. Miss Gorightry

    Somewhere in a forest in Northern California, a bunch of people on MDMA are having free-wheelin’ politically-neutral sex. Also swimming or dancing or setting up a tent.

  268. speedbudget

    Jezebella, I support your possibility of getting a good job while being a woman. I hope the school isn’t blinded by the Oxford too.

    On Ashley Judd, I was just blown away by her essay. It’s so refreshing to see someone with some social clout saying what we all already know and saying it so well. Especially coming from someone with massive amounts of privilege, wanted or not. Just a great thing to read.

  269. qvaken

    Ashley Judd might be ready to start liking women, but the editors of The Daily Beast certainly aren’t. Aside from placing her essay in the “Sexy Beast” section, they’ve invited the audience to “Share Your Own ‘Puffy Face’ Moments!”, and have quoted this text from her essay in very large font, so as to posit it as the crux: “That the conversation about my face was initially promulgated largely by women is a sad and disturbing fact.”

    Her efforts to enhance discourse are admirable, but The Daily Beasts efforts to stultify her words are deplorable.

  270. redpeachmoon

    I look for a new post every day.
    Twisty, I miss you!

  271. copykatparis

    headline: “Dude Suddenly Realises There Is Indeed A Patriarchy.” At least some other dudes may actually read and blink at it because another dude wrote it. And for that, you know what I blame.
    Hope the link works:
    http://www.cracked.com/article_19785_5-ways-modern-men-are-trained-to-hate-women.html?wa_user1=2&wa_user2=Sex&wa_user3=article&wa_user4=popular

  272. Mildred

    Where’s Twisty? I hope she’s okay and just taking a cocktail break.
    In open thread-like fashion I’m just gonna say that I’m reading Kiss Kiss by roald dahl and pretty much every single story is about some meek, long suffering wife getting violent murderous revenge on her husband. I don’t know if its subversive or if women getting revenge is supposed to be the scary part. I like to think subversive but maybe because I’m reading it with radfem eyes.

  273. josquin

    Copykatparis:

    thanks for the link. The dude got #s 1 through 4 right, and I was gratified to read that he really seemed to understand that the Patriarchy makes it virtually impossible for women to go through life as a human beings as opposed to–well you know – tools, decor, sluts, evil temptresses, fat bitches, ugly bitches, idolized beauty objects, sex rewards for people having having a y chromosome etc. etc.
    When I read his last point though, he lost it big time. Such a shame. He fell into the rabbit hole of “men are powerless because they constantly obsess about women.” He couldn’t quite see the argument through to the cold hard damning truth of it. He had to bail to the “poor poor men, subject to to the constant parade of tantalizing women.”

  274. TwissB

    I dunno, @copykatparis, but I think that clever David Wong was just reaffirming, with insulting illustrations, the timeworn all purpose exculpatory platitude that men are acting like that because they are, – ta da!! — different from women. Misogyny is inevitable, decreed by nature, so as Wong puts it, “Sorry ladies.”

    As described by @Mildred, Dahl’s stories seem to be conforming to Wong’s Rule.

  275. Embee

    Will have to read Kiss Kiss. I have a concept for a short story with a similar thread: basically, a woman goes ti a head shop to get an elixir to spice up her marriage, but instead the toothless, laughing medicine man who works there gives her a serum that allows her to revive her husband if he dies. The balance of the story is her killing and reviving him and their marriage has never been better. Until she gets to the last does of elixir….

  276. speedbudget

    Was wondering what you ladies think of this.

    http://youtu.be/gfFzCDIQ_a8

  277. josquin

    Thanks for the link, speedbudget. I loved how the leering applause was replaced by silence at the end when the message was posted.

  278. josquin

    ps: just watched it again, but made the dire mistake of reading some of the comments. Ouch, that’s a lot of hatred of women first thing in the morning. Stay far away from the comments.

  279. quixote

    Jezebella, take heart re the Shiny Dudes from Oxbridge.

    1) Things may have changed, but in my experience much of the Deep South has a fairly bad attitude to snooty Englishmen, British accents, and the whole nine meters. (I’m not saying anything about actual snootiness or otherwise, but I’ve seen it be assumed based on accent.) So they may not seem as Shiny as you might think.

    2) This part is not a comment on your abilities. Put that in bold flashing caps. It says nothing about you at all. Okay. Onward and downward: In the searches I’ve participated in, people fall all over themselves to interview shiny dudes. (Because reflected glory! The gods themselves beg us for jobs!) Shiny dudes take the free plane fare, politely go through the interview, take some extra time to visit New Orleans or Disney World or New York or whatever, and turn down the job. Total waste of the university’s money. The one real candidate gets the job. (Again, the one real candidate should have got the job to begin with, but you’re dealing with the sort of doofi who think interviewing shiny dudes might not be a waste of resources.) I don’t know how many searches I’ve seen with that dynamic. Five? Six? Out of a total of about ten.

    Mention how easily and well you understand and relate to the students because you’ve lived there, and you loooove the place, and you have (or have put down) roots there. You know the drill.

  280. Hari

    Wow, that is a great ad–thanks for sharing, speedbudget. As for the comments…nah, not today.

  281. Kwailin

    copycatparis and TwissB, that TwissB’s reading of the article) was my take, too. I went into it with relatively high, but cautious, hopes, but by about the middle, crest wilted, I was getting too much of the “Ladeez Love Power, and That’s Why We Do (What We Do)” stench coming off of it. I haven’t quite given up hoping for allies but probably should.

  282. Kwailin

    (Forgot my open parenthesis in that last comment.)

  283. TwissB

    Bitter comment to the Washington Post re news media orgy over Hilary Rosen blunder:
    “Hillary Rosen’s verbal blunder made me feel a certain sense of schadenfreude because I have been trying without success for many years to persuade feminist colleagues and spokeswomen to stop talking about “working women” only when they are speaking of women in paid employment and to speak as well of women doing unpaid domestic work, running households, raising children, etc. Even amid criticism of Ms. Rosen, women journalists are still forgetting to mention that enhanced electronic communication and the lack of affordable quality child care also means that more women are working at paid jobs at home. So the careless split between “working” = pay in a non-domestic workplace and “not working” = unpaid domestic labor is invalid. I also tried to alert women journalists to the insidious invention of the phrase “stay-at-home Mom” that began to appear in, for example, feature articles in the Washington Post glorifying the idea that women professionals were gladly giving up well-paid jobs for the cozy life of the “stay-at-home Mom.” One such Style page article showed large photos of these “Moms’ (wives of well-paid husbands) gathering in an upscale living room for tea and chat as their well-dressed children played decorously nearby. My efforts failed to alert feminists that men were adding a new tactic to familiar anti-competitive ploys like sexual harassment for gettinmg women out of paid employment. And then there is the mindless repetition of the phrase “women earn less than men” instead of “men pay women less than they pay themselves” or at least “women are paid less than men.” All of this tin-eared indifference to the political power of words sets ilary Rosen and other women commentators up for the old press game of “the women are fighting among themselves.” Works every time. When will these smart women start thinking like real feminists who know that words are weapons to hold women back? And please dump those smarmy, patronizing references to “Moms,” stay-at-home or otherwise.”

  284. mesikammen

    Yeah, the title of that Cracked article was pretty misleading, as it wasn’t so much about “training” men to do anything as it was about reiterating well worn clichés and making excuses for some bad behaviours. There was a veneer of being an ally to women while still giving off the stench of “don’t be angry with the lads, they’re just horny, have you no pity for their poor sexist souls”…

    It should have been called something more along the lines of 5 Ways Society Approves, Supports and Perpetuates Men’s Hatred of Women – with bonus evo-psych musings.

  285. Mildred

    Loved that video and I wish I could freely post things like this on facebook except most of my friends think there’s fundamentally nothing wrong with prostitution.
    So often I just want to say… Can you imagine the pain, the pure physical pain of it all? The disgust?
    You can’t get through to them.

  286. Cimarron

    I couldn’t agree more, Twiss B, re Hillary Rosen comments. These “debates” are so predictable. Let’s all keep our eyes on the prize, here. SMDH

  287. Laura

    Honestly, with five kids AND multiple sclerosis, and a husband who was able to support the family, if Ann Romney had worked outside the home I’d think she’d lost her mind.

    I worked outside the home while my daughter was growing up. It was the right thing for our family. At times my husband has been out of work and I have been the sole breadwinner. Other people manage things differently. I can’t stand it when people point to other people’s choices and put them down.

    It is irritating, of course, when a specific woman’s input is referenced as any kind of authority about women and their concerns, as if we are all a monolith. OTOH I have seen men get a different attitude about things when they have thought about their wives, sisters, or daughters, as opposed to just generic “women”. Sometimes they don’t, of course, they except their own wives from their generalities, but a lot of times they do. So if a man says “I listen to my wife about these things,” I take that at face value unless he says she is his only source of information. Beats the heck out of his thinking she is an idiot who has nothing reasonable to say, or that he inexplicably got the only woman who wasn’t total crap and therefore still doesn’t care about women at all.

    Anyway, Ann Romney is not running for president. Mitt is. As Obama said, (and he said it when Palin was being excoriated for her daughter’s situation but was ignored then too,) family ought to be off-limits in these political fights.

  288. veganrampage

    How hard is it not to spit your for food out when a loved one casually announces she is vacationing in Arizona? Arizona of the racist laws, crazy-ass sheriff, shooting Congress woman etal rampages, and the new fun fun fun laws where “life” begins 2 weeks after a women’s last period AND one’s “doctor” is legally allowed to lie to woman patients? So very hard.
    Did I mention she refers to herself as feminist constantly? She doesn’t know all this crap and would take it as personal criticism I fear. I am in no position to start new wars.
    Sometimes I wish I could get the “stank of the P out of my eye” too. Gratis to the Blamer who wrote that. I made a note of it, which is not handy but the quote remains immortal.
    The United States of Insanity.

  289. speedbudget

    I didn’t understand anybody to be denigrating Ann Romney’s choice to stay home. What I understood was people are denigrating her ASSUMING just because she stayed home with the kids she knows what it’s like to be forced to stay home because the cost of childcare isn’t even covered by your paycheck and subsequently to be forced to live on one income and then have to choose between food and gas in the weekly budget.

    It’s a far different thing to make the choice to stay home with the kids when one is married to a multimillionaire with an elevator for his cars then it is to be forced to stay home because there is no other rational choice. And it’s worlds away from being single and wanting to stay home but not being able to.

    Look, I don’t care what ladies or men do with their time. What I care about is a completely out-of-touch rich-ass white lady telling me that her choosy choice is the best and that she is the best for sacrificing for it while at the same time her husband and her political party works to remove what little safety net there is out there for poor moms and children. The same white, rich stay-at-home-mom who is doing the “best job in the world” is the black, poor welfare queen mom who is trying to “live off the system.”

    Why is it only venerated to stay home with kids if you’re white and rich?

    Oh.

  290. Laura

    Speedbudget, I don’t think Ann Romney is telling anybody her choosy choice is best.

    There are plenty of women, working outside the home as well as not, who will tell you that, but if AR has I haven’t seen it. (Maybe she has and I am oblivious.)

    You want to see veneration of staying at home – look at any of the quiverfull sites. Some of these people are wealthy but a lot of them really aren’t. But the idea there is that a woman belongs in the home and no where else, and the more economic sacrifices she has to make, the more evident it is that she’s really dedicated to her true calling as a woman.

    The fact is that women have a wide variety of circumstances and issues in this country. No one woman is going to understand them all regardless of her personal circumstances, any more than any one man can understand and communicate men’s issues (and when you put it that way it’s evident how stupid the whole thing was. It was kind of dumb IMO for MR to suggest that his wife could funnel them all to him, but it wouldn’t have been any dumber if AR had spent the first part of their marriage working any job that she could, to make ends meet)

    I could see Rosen’s point if she had said that due to the Romneys’ wealth, AR had never been faced with the economic issues that most women have. The wording she used, though, about “never having worked a day in her life,” was a direct invocation of the wretched mommy wars. More woman-against-woman nonsense.

  291. speedbudget

    @Laura, did you read my post? I asked where is the veneration of non-white non-rich stay-at-home-moms.

    Big difference.

  292. speedbudget

    The mere fact she had a choice whether or not to stay home should highlight she has no fricking clue whatsoever what normal women face. Most women don’t have a choice. Most women are forced to work or forced to quit. Most women, when making the untenable choice of whether to continue working or to stay home, are also, whether known to them or not, making the choice to live in poverty, since many SAHMs live in poverty. This is not a problem that would ever occur for Ms. Romney, as even if she got divorced after not having working for 15 or 20 years due to being married and making a choice to stay home, her alimony would see her through to a better lifestyle than most career women can afford. She doesn’t have any CLUE what reality is, and to stand around and talk about “I made this choice” is just ridiculous on its face, since, as pointed out, she actually had a choice where others don’t.

    And the truth is, she HASN’T worked a day in her life. She really, really hasn’t. She’s done some charity stuff, but as for getting up, getting dressed, getting out the door, and dealing with a boss and shit on your desk in order to feed yourself, that is nothing she has ever done. How is telling the truth invoking a mommy war?

  293. Laura

    Speedbudget, by “work” do you mean “work outside the home for a paycheck”? I do work outside the home for a paycheck, but what I do at home is work too. If I put in a load of laundry, that is work. Housework is no big deal now, but when my daughter was little, I put in a full day on my job and then came home and put in a full evening of housework and childcare, and I would not ever have said that one of those was more work than the other.

    Is this a class warfare thing now? How attractive.

    As to “where is the veneration of etc” I don’t care who venerates what. Nobody I know or care about or whose opinion I respect and care about venerates rich white women. If anybody does venerate rich white women I can’t stop them. They aren’t accountable to me. I don’t venerate anybody, myself. I suppose we are all doing the best we can and I think I’m as good as anybody else, so why would I?

    There are people, as I pointed out in my comment which you evidently didn’t read, who venerate women who stay at home even though it’s an economic sacrifice. Because these people are fundamentalist Christian, they probably aren’t on your radar screen, but if you want to see them, that is where you should look. For whatever that does for you.

  294. TwissB

    @Friend of Snakes
    Just caught up with your comment about the hoodie-wearing thief in the VA state police video.. How did you know he (?) was white?

    My comment was directed at the linking of hoodie-wearing with the bad-guy assumption which in the Florida case seemed to link up with pre-existing suspicions about black boys and men.

    Today in Congress, during a hearing on racial profiling, all testimony was focused on the list of classes specified by law to merit 14th Amendment protection. That list does not include women, a fact that does not merit the slightest attention. A second perspective omitted is the essential fact that the white class, very especially the white men class, daily receives the benefits of white men race and sex profiling. Profiling exists because it pays off for the recipients of positive profiling. I’m reminded of Eddy Murphy’s brilliant white-face=white privilege sketch on Saturday Night Live.

  295. Kali

    look at any of the quiverfull sites. Some of these people are wealthy but a lot of them really aren’t.

    Are any of them single (either divorced or never married, not widowed) moms? In my experience, the choice to be a stay-at-home mom is encouraged only in those situations where it makes an individual woman financially/socially dependent on an individual man, i.e. the traditional nuclear and patriarchal family situation.

  296. Laura

    Kali, no, and I don’t know where you are going to go to find where women are encouraged to have a houseful of kids with no husband and no job. People who want that may have to start their own movement.

    I just dislike the “normal women” thing ["The mere fact she had a choice whether or not to stay home should highlight she has no fricking clue whatsoever what normal women face."] where AR evidently is either abnormal, or not a woman, due to the circumstances of her family. This looks like more gender-policing to me. I want a misogyny-free zone somewhere. Somewhere. Guess that’s as hard to find as one that venerates poor single motherhood. We’ll all have to keep looking.

  297. tinfoil hattie

    What I understood was people are denigrating her ASSUMING just because she stayed home with the kids she knows what it’s like to be forced to stay home because the cost of childcare isn’t even covered by your paycheck and subsequently to be forced to live on one income and then have to choose between food and gas in the weekly budget..

    Except that she didn’t say that. Not even Mitt said that. What he was said was: I talk to my wife, and she talks to other women, and they say the economy is their biggest concern. Setting aside the HUGE problem of MItt having to have his wife talk to “other women,” he didn’t say, “She’s an expert on economics,” or even, “She remembers what it was like to budget.” He said: My wife has talked to a lot of women on the campaign trail, and THEY say … ”

    Furthermore, Rosen spun that into “[How dare she presume to talk to other women and report what they said to her a man who is running for president?] She never worked a day in her life!” So, only poor women are qualified to talk to the public and listen to their concerns? Huh?

    Sorry, but Romney did work. A LOT. She had five children, and no “nannies,” as we so charmingly insist upon referring to people who manage the drudgery of day-in, day-out child care.

    And lots of women do “choose” to “stay home” instead of “working.” They (we) weigh(ed) the benefits and cost of all the options, and figure out which one works the best. Every mother who is at home with kids is not some rich, privileged spoiled woman who just doesn’t want to “work.”

    Many, MANY women, of course, are driven by poverty, and that severely limits their choices. Which means they don’t have a choice. They can choose to work and put their children in sub-standard child care (which is such drudgery, and so devalued (i.e., underpaid) that few people want to do it. Or they can choose to be a SAHM and live on welfare. Right? (HA)

    And honestly, if people don’t stop insisting that parenting, at home or in public or all day or after a day at a salaried job or on vacation or all night, isn’t “work,” I am going to SCREAM.

  298. Hari

    Yeah, I’m going to scream, too, Tinfoil Hattie.

  299. tinfoil hattie

    I think we agree more often than you might believe, Hari. :-)

  300. Friend of Snakes

    Hilary Rosen? Oh no she didn’t! How bush league, not ready for prime time can you get? How on earth could an experienced “strategist” hand the opposition such a gift? Okay, so she screwed up. So why couldn’t she just say, “Wow, I really screwed up massively. I meant to say [fill in the blank]. I’ve apologized to Mrs. Romney privately [not via lame-ass Twitter], I apologize to Democrats and all Obama supporters, and now I’m going to shut up and try to not sabotage the presidential re-election campaign any further.”

  301. pandechion

    Parenting is work, no argument there. I do it myself, and I agree that it’s incredibly hard. Nobody pays me for it, though. The only time we even attempt the calculation as to what it might be worth is during a divorce. Which is to say, at the moment you’re disengaging yourself from your male sponsor.

    Because the lion’s share of child care falls to mothers, and motherhood is unpaid labor, it isn’t possible to be a mother without being financially dependent on someone, whether your husband (through his largesse), your child’s father (whom you can compel to pay you via child support laws), or the government (through public assistance, which demands that you be poor before you qualify.)

  302. Kali

    Laura, I wasn’t very clear about my point. The point is that society encourages women to be stay-at-home mothers under very specific conditions, i.e. conditions that support the traditional patriarchal family. That traditional patriarchal family could be rich or poor or middle-class. The traditional patriarchal family is favored by the capitalist economy because it essentially gets the human resources for free through the unpaid labor of mothers. However, this system is harmful for mothers overall because it makes mothers financially dependent on fathers while having little or no bargaining power in the system. This isn’t about rich women vs. poor women. This isn’t about women having a choice or not (how many mothers will choose not to provide the care that their children need? won’t they do it themselves if there is little or no help from fathers or society?). This is about the patriarchal family system and how it reinforces and is reinforced by the capitalist economy.

  303. Laurie

    I think the three words — “outside the home” — that Rosen neglected to say are obviously implicit here — she is talking about zillionaire Ann Romney, after all. But the manufactured high dudgeon displayed by the Romneys in response, especially considering she’s just cynically called it a “gift,” is far from feminist in origin.

    I can’t understand the claim that Rosen’s started a gender war when she’s just pointing out blatant hypocrisy, while the Republicans are the ones conducting the most comprehensive legislative assault on women in decades.

    And Romney himself demanding just a couple of months back that even women with 2-year-olds have, ahem, the “dignity of work” (minimum wage, of course) — but that applies only to those reprehensible welfare queens. The rich (overwhelmingly white) women get their “dignity” through their husbands’ bulging bank accounts.

  304. Embee

    As a single mother who receives none of the court-ordered support from her ex, I outsource the bulk of my daughter’s childcare to the daycare center where she spends 8-6:15 M-F. And yet – and yet! – I am considered to be “Mommy track” because I am unable/unwilling to bill 65 hours a week at my lawfirm because it would necessitate weekends at the office.

    Now, I cannot and do not complain about my compensation that permits me to “Mommy Track” and still outsource the bulk of my childcare, but there is something absolutely disgusting about the fact that I am considered inferior in each of my occupations as attorney and homemaker/mother. It’s why I will eventually open my own practice.

    Also, at the end of a weekend with my darling, darling girl, I know that my desk job is far easier than full-time (unrelenting?) motherhood. Acknoweldging this, I also understand why a working woman would say “she’s never worked a day in her life” when you have compassion for the fear that accompanies a sole or majority breadwinner in a household. The responsibility (to me, others may feel differently) is crushing in a way that mothering is not.

    On to another topic: Columbia? Secret Service and Military use of prosittues in the POTUS’ hotel?!?!? I neeeeed Twisty to cast her jaundiced eye on this one!!!!

  305. Laura

    Kali, outside the partriarchal family unit, if a woman is not employed outside the home, who is providing for her children? Food, clothes, roof over the head cost money. I’m having trouble understanding your vision here and what it is that you want to see supported.

    If you ever want to see mommy wars, suggest that women who work their butts off in paid jobs and put their darlings in day care while they do it, ought to be happy to pay taxes so that in addition to providing for their own kids they can provide for the kids of another woman who is at home with hers. I’m not going there, myself.

    Or maybe you are envisioning some sort of commune?

  306. Kali

    I’m having trouble understanding your vision here and what it is that you want to see supported.

    I believe unpaid work should be shared equally between men and women, and the socioeconomic structure should support that. To the extent unpaid work falls disproportionately on women, to the extent that women “choose” to do more than their equal share of unpaid work, to that extent women will be socioeconomically marginalized.

  307. Laura

    OK, I did misunderstand. I thought you wanted women who are poor but who do not work for a paycheck to be held up as a good example. What you actually want is not to see the traditional gender-based division of labor, right, where the man works outside the home and the woman works at home but only the man is paid?

  308. rootlesscosmo

    Twisty, you OK?

  309. tinfoil hattie

    So, Laura, do I understand you to say that women who take care of their own children should not get any tax breaks, subsidies, tax-deferred retirement savings options, or – goddess forbid – welfare assistance?

  310. Laura

    No, tinfoil hattie, you do not understand me to say that.

    I misunderstood Keri and thought that she meant that poor women who had no partner and did not work outside the home but had children to raise should be held up as an example to emulate. I am saying that that concept is not going to get universal approval among women who do work outside the home and have to put their kids in daycare to do it, and know that they are paying, with their hard-earned money, taxes that are enabling those other women to do what they would like to do but can’t.

  311. Laura

    I mean Kali.

  312. Hari

    Capitalism relies upon the slave labor of the many, for the benefit of the few. No slave is so relied upon for the wealth accumulation of the corporations as the unpaid labor of womyn who bear and raise children to fill jobs and buy goods when they grow up, and womyn (mainly) who otherwise labor to keep workers fed and so forth. The problem here is that in the P (which created capitalism from it’s fundamental philosophy), even though children are necessary– as consumers from birth until working age, and as laborers and consumers both when of age–the work of bearing and raising children is constructed as a merely personal choice conducted in the privacy of the home. The whole setup is based on false premises, and greatly favors the wealth accumulation of the few at the vast expense of the many. The expense is borne none so much as the unpaid laborers we call SAHMs and SAHWs, (and almost as greatly upon the low wage laborers in industries), when in any human economy, ALL of the labor humans perform that’s needed to serve wealth-accumulation should be recognized and remunerated according to its real value to the society and the economy.

    Which is to say– NOT that governments should tax workers more, in order to financially support SAHMs, but that corporations should be paying, at least, better wages to workers which more accurately reflect valuing of all of the labor that goes into wealth accumulation. And maybe too, that corporations should be paying higher taxes than individual workers, to be shared with SAHMs (or p/t employed parents who spend not all, but a lot of their time w/their kids)–because those moms are supplying both consumers, and eventual laborers, to the system which relies upon a steady supply of both, to survive.

    We just have to understand better how capitalism is a natural outgrowth and expression of the P, and as such the vast inequities that are built-in. There is no work more important than parenting; in fact there is really no work more important than any other kind of work that keeps a society going–because it is all equally necessary for the society to function in the ways it has chosen to function.

  313. Hari

    Please pardon my typos, I never seem to catch them all before posting. Hopefully the statement is comprehensible anyway.

  314. pheeno

    ht tp://perilsofdivorcedpauline.com/social-issues/i-used-to-have-ann-romneys-life-i-had-it-easy/

    “I Used to Have Ann Romney’s Life. I Had it Easy.
    April 17, 2012 By Pauline 36 Comments

    Note: This piece was fueled by exasperation and inspired by two excellent blogs posts — by Grace Hwang Lynch and Pamela Kripke — that urge those who “got privilege” to name it.

    I used to have Ann Romney’s life. The first time around I married into a family that was rich. Romney Rich. So when I became a mom I didn’t have to work-at-a-job-that-paid-money-which-is-what-Hilary-Rosen-meant-for-Chrissake.

    I got divorced nine years ago. I then spent four years as a not-rich single mom. I am now a not-rich remarried mom. And you know what? My years spent as a rich married lady were easier!!

    Not because being a SAHM is easier than having an office job. And certainly not because being a SAHM of five boys is easier than having an office job.

    But because having plenty of money, and plenty of choice, is easier than not having enough. And I don’t understand why more people aren’t acknowledging this.

    Ann Romney isn’t less than because she chose to stay at home, or because she’s rich. But she shouldn’t be treated as a victimized saint. And Hilary Rosen shouldn’t be demonized.

    The glaring omission of Privilege in this tiresome Mommy Wars debate denies the experience of mothers who ARE hindered by race and social class and marital status. Omitting Privilege from the conversation doesn’t acknowledge their reality and lack of choices.

    Ann Romney says she did most of the grunt work of raising five boys. If that’s the case, that’s admirable. Frankly, I’d take an office job any day over personally wrangling five sons. But at any point if Mrs. Romney had wanted a nap, or lunch with the gals, or an impromptu tennis match, she could have had it in a snap.”

  315. tinfoilhattie

    Thanks, Laura.

  316. Ms. Lovegood

    Dear Twisty,

    It has been a month and three days since you’ve written, I know we get what we pay for here, but I gotta say you are missed. My margarita is long gone and the Island isn’t nearly as fun-filled and sinister without you. You still there?

    Love,
    A dedicated fan and reader of your blog with far too much time on her hands.

  317. Cimarron

    That letter strikes the perfect tone and balance, Pheeno. Thank you!

    On another note. I’m reading in the Washington Post about the crackdown of the vactican on uppity catholic nuns. If only the church had gone after pedophile priests with the same zeal!)

    This, of course, plays into the ‘war on women’ meme that the media has recently decided to cover. Hilarious! As if this is brand new information. I have, however, noticed that between the righteous anger over Komen v. Planned Parenthood and now the indignation by many over the nuns there does seem to be a bit of a ‘moment’ here. I admit I do read news article comments sometimes (I know, I know its an unhealthy habit) and I’ve been heartened by the level of outrage that is for once aimed in the right direction. Again, this is anecdotal, but I’ve now seen women in my own extended family who are usually at best indifferent who are now starting to get just a little bit pissed at the treatment of women.

    I know, I know. This is not news, but since the media has finally deigned to cover, in part, some of the latest most egregious BS, is this a moment that could be seized, somehow? I’m sensing an opportunity here. What do you think?

  318. susanw

    Hari, don’t mind the typos. Comprehensible? It was brilliant!

  319. Mildred

    I’m living at the moment in a rather unconventional set up. I live with a single mother who is a therapist as an ‘au pair’, with my husband and 2 flatmates and 2 male ‘helpers’ and her 3 kids. Its a huge house and basically we all do chores and work all day long, someone keeps an eye on the kids but they really do their own thing. My job really is just tidying the kitchen, making kids breakfast and lunch, doing laundry, helping them with whatever they need. My husband does gardening, the other 2 guys are building a bathroom and helping with the kids from time to time. Its sort of like a commune, people always come and go here. It helps us at the moment because we are fucking broke as shit and trying to find work and obviously have a lot of time on our hands but another side of me feels that this system definitely benefits the woman we work for.
    I could go more into it but lets just say the lady is a mainly benevolent dictator.
    I’m surprised more women are not onto this, its a website called helpx. There are lots of people in my position, unemployed or broke backpackers.
    If you have a spare room or even a spare caravan you can have people helping you out with renovations or chores and all you have to give is food and a room.

  320. Laura

    What I don’t get is the indignation on the part of Rosen and others, that AR dared open her mouth. If she’d said that women’s major concern is the shortage of quality live-in childcare so that they can’t go out and get their pedicures when they want them, I’d understand it. That she said that women are concerned about the economy – seriously, that’s to get angry about?

    Also, the fact is that traditionally, the division of labor has been such that women have been at home and their very hard work unpaid and, by way too many people, not respected. Perhaps it shouldn’t have been that way but it has. The denigration of the work that women do continues to the present, and that spills over to women’s jobs outside the home as well as in. I don’t think we have the luxury of explicitly saying “never worked a day in her life” and only implying that we meant “for a paycheck”. To me, that looks like another brick in the wall.

  321. Hari

    Why thank you, susanw! Other feminists and a few socialist types have helped me get my brilliance into gear on those points about capitalism and its reliance on slave labor (especially mothers). I’ve always thought there was something really wrong with it, but only recently have come across critiques that have helped me put it into words.

  322. pheeno

    “What I don’t get is the indignation on the part of Rosen and others, that AR dared open her mouth.”

    Possibly because she didn’t open her mouth when Mitt said poor women who stay at home should be forced to work because they need the “dignity of work”.

    Or that she only spoke to begin with because Mitts trying to show he doesn’t hate women and isn’t actively waging war on us.

    These are just guesses though. Just speaking for myself, the whole thing isn’t important enough for me to care. Neither are running for President so what they think isn’t going to impact me.

  323. Laura

    Well, we don’t really know what she might have said to Mitt at the time. She could have blasted him, for all we know. I’d like to be able to hold a man accountable for shallowness, or hypocrisy, or cognitive dissonance, or classism, whatever, without assuming that his wife shares all of his views.

    But it really doesn’t matter who gets into the presidency, really. It was Bill Clinton who signed welfare reform into law, remarking “… this legislation provides an historic opportunity to end welfare as we know it and transform our broken welfare system by promoting the fundamental values of work, responsibility, and family.”

  324. pheeno

    No, we don’t know what she said to him, if anything at all. But we *do* know that very wealthy white Republican women often tend to hold those same views about welfare mothers, so I don’t think it’s unreasonable for people to suspect she does as well. At any rate, she’s his wife so she isn’t to blame for his actions/words/beliefs. He’s responsible for that, not anyone else.

    It DOES annoy me that he takes the word of one woman telling him what all women are concerned about. Frankly, I’m more concerned about the war on women than I am about the economy.

  325. tinfoil hattie

    I’m with Laura, here. The things that piss ME off about this are:

    1) Mitt thinking only a WOMAN can talk to other women
    2) Mitt speaking for his wife
    3) The outrage against ANN for what MITT said
    4) The insistence that because she was rich, raising 5 boys wasn’t “work” – and the insistence that she is lying about how much help she had

    All of this is so much straw. The only thing AR has said publicly is, “I raised five sons. Believe me, it was work.” Yet she is accused of so much egregious behavior/belief, my head is spinning.

    It’s just more misogyny, justified because Ann Romney is a rich, white, Republican woman.

  326. pheeno

    That’s what my link earlier touches on. Is raising 5 kids work? Yes. Is it far easier when you have money? Hell fucking yes. You don’t have to worry about buying food. Keeping the electricity on. Paying rent. Buying clothes for the kids. Seeing that school project that’s going to cost 40 fucking dollars and wonder how you’ll ever get that much money in 2 weeks. Knowing 40 dollars is just as out of reach as a million dollars is. Being told your kid has a 100 degree fever and can’t be in daycare/school and having to tell your boss your kid is sick. Knowing you won’t get paid for those hours your lost. Feeling sick to your stomach when your boss gives you ” that look”. Add those stresses to raising any number of children and the dynamic changes significantly. Yes her child rearing was work, but don’t sit there and tell me it’s the same. It’s not. NO ONE looked at AR, looked at the color of her skin and decided she had no business having 5 kids, let alone staying home with them. She never got dirty looks while paying with food stamps. She was never humiliated by being called to the school and told to wash her childs clothes because she couldn’t afford the laundry money that week. Being worried about “the economy” doesn’t even cover half the stuff poor, not white mothers have to worry about by a long shot. The economy getting better won’t erase her skin color. The economy getting better won’t mean she gets a raise from minimum wage (she doesn’t deserve a raise you see, because she takes off too much time for her sick kids). The economy getting better doesn’t change the fact she can’t drum up 40 dollars for a mandatory school project. The economy getting better doesn’t mean she will have access to sick kids daycare. The economy getting better won’t change her poverty status. Never has and never fucking will. The economy getting better to her is like hearing a mercedes will have more child safety features.

    I hope her ” believe me it was work” comment was a dig at her asshole husbands “dignity of work” policy. But for mothers like me, it doesn’t matter if it was or wasn’t. Our shitty worlds won’t change either way.

    Of course raising 5 kids is work. But it’s nowhere near the hell of being POOR and raising children. Stating that isn’t misogyny. It’s reality.

  327. Janicen

    Sorry to barge in with a change of subject, but at long last there are LEGOs for girls. How did we get along without them?

    http://www.foxnews.com/us/2012/04/20/activists-outraged-by-lego-line-for-girls-to-meet-with-company-executives/

  328. susanw

    The Republican mantra re Us Little Ladies is, “Women care about the economy.” It’s all they can say because it’s all they’ve got. Look at right-wing legislation all over the country which is indeed waging war on women. They can’t talk about issues that impact women specifically, so they lump us in with men and conflate women’s concerns with men’s. All they have to say to us is that everybody will be fine with a job. Yes, women need jobs, but we need a lot of other things that men don’t worry about. While the Democratic response was ill-phrased and insulting, it was prompted by Romney trotting his wife out to tell us that we care about the economy.
    Please note that I have no love for the Democratic Party. It is superior to the Republicans only in that they occasionally recognise some small part of women’s oppression before selling us down the river.

  329. tinfoil hattie

    pheeno, Ann Romney was responding directly to Hillary Rosen’s comment that Ann Romney “never worked a day in her life.” That was the only thing she responded to.

    Ann Romney never claimed that the things you are saying are not also true. She never said, “I had it as hard as poor women.” She never said, “I know exactly how hard it is for people with fewer resources.”

    What she SAID was, “I raised five sons. Believe me, it was work.”

    I don’t find that statement objectionable, especially in light of the fact that another WOMAN, who is a Democrat & therefore is supposed to be above that petty crap (after all, they’re “our” party, right? RIGHT? – HA!), attacked Ann Romney PERSONALLY for something Ann Romney’s HUSBAND said.

    That’s my only point. That Mitt’s comment was misogynist and so was Rosen’s, and Ann Romney got caught in the middle. And she only made one public statement, and a truthful statement at that.

  330. pheeno

    Yessssss and the link I posted and further discussed expanded on what they said to include what other people back and forth are saying about it.

    “All of this is so much straw. The only thing AR has said publicly is, “I raised five sons. Believe me, it was work.” Yet she is accused of so much egregious behavior/belief, my head is spinning.”

    My comments were in regards to this, and how there’s more to it than “it was work” in light of the fact that she had far more options available to her, even if she didn’t use them. Those options existed. That’s not an accusation, that’s just plain fact. Wealthy white Republican women have buttloads of privilege, and discussing that privilege while discussion her comments are accusatory nor misplaced.

  331. pheeno

    “nd discussing that privilege while discussion her comments are accusatory nor misplaced.”

    *and discussing that privilege while discussing her comments are not* accusatory nor misplaced.

    Really wish there was an edit available.

  332. tinfoil hattie

    None of us at IBTP, as far as I know, is in a position to declare exact.y how much “work” Ann Romney did or did not do when her children were small. That is my point. My other point is that misogyny dragged her onto this conversation, and tried, found,and senrenced her based on speculation.

  333. pheeno

    Tinfoil- The link I posted and happen to be talking about (did you even read it?) isn’t talking about how much or how little work she did.

    It’s discussing her privilege.

    It’s not speculation that she has it.

    She has WP and Class P.

    Those 2 privileges are being discussed by me, as a broader point, initiated by the initial comments made by both Romney and Rosen.

    I’m expanding on the topic.

    You keep telling me what other people have said, and I’m telling you YES I KNOW what other people have said, and now this is what I’M saying.

    “My other point is that misogyny dragged her onto this conversation, and tried, found,and senrenced her based on speculation.”

    Yes. I know. Now may I please talk about the privilege that’s been ignored while people are calling each other names?

  334. Laura

    “Now may I please talk about the privilege that’s been ignored while people are calling each other names?”

    No one is stopping you, unless you think that your talking about that requires that everyone agree with you and no one disagree or make any points other than the ones you want to make. I don’t think anybody on planet Earth gets that.

  335. tinfoil hattie

    pheeno, you are trying to have an argument with me over something I am not even talking about. Regardless of her privilege, Romney was treated with egregious sexism by her husband and by Rosen and by others. You keep talking about her privilege, as though that’s some sort of defense against sexism. I don’t care how provileged she is, she didn’t deserve the SEXISM she was and is being subjected to.

    Talk about her privilege all you want. It’s just not what I am specifically talking about, so there is no use trying to argue with me about it.

  336. pheeno

    “pheeno, you are trying to have an argument with me over something I am not even talking about. ”

    I’m not trying to argue with you. I’m expanding the conversation beyond your points. We agree on your points. Now I’m on to another point.

    “You keep talking about her privilege, as though that’s some sort of defense against sexism.”

    Nooo, I’m not. I am simply moving past that and continuing a conversation about privilege that doesn’t often get discussed when SAHM or working outside the home moms get discussed as a topic. It always seems to get stuck at SAHM vs working outside the home moms.

    “I don’t care how provileged she is, she didn’t deserve the SEXISM she was and is being subjected to.”

    WHERE DID I SAY SHE DID? In fact, where have I ever in the history of posting ever said any woman on the face of the planet deserves sexism. When have you ever witnessed me saying that. WHY would I start now?

    I haven’t. I KNOW she’s been the target of sexism. I’ve said I know. And then went on to tell you I am simply taking the original topic and expanding it. You keep saying this is arguing with you. It’s not. I’m talking about the other factors about the topic of motherhood as a whole.

    “It’s just not what I am specifically talking about, so there is no use trying to argue with me about it.”

    I haven’t argued with you about it. In order for that to have happened at some point I would have had to disagree that Romney was the target of sexism. The only reason anyone so much as raised a brow at her words is because she’s a woman who opened her mouth. That’s a GIVEN with me. So now I’m specifically talking about privilege and SAHM’s.

    “It DOES annoy me that he takes the word of one woman telling him what all women are concerned about. ”

    You attributed this to Laura earlier, but go back and look. *I* said it.

    We’re having 2 different conversations but I’m the only one who seems to grok this.

  337. Laura

    “It DOES annoy me that he takes the word of one woman telling him what all women are concerned about. ”

    You attributed this to Laura earlier, but go back and look. *I* said it.

    Actually, I said it too. Twice.

    I’m confused as to why you think you are not being allowed to talk about privilege. You’ve talked about it quite a bit and no one has asked you to stop. Is it that your comments about privilege are not being engaged and you wonder why that is?

  338. tinfoil hattie

    You are not arguing with ME, pheeno. I am not arguing with YOU. I did not accuse YOU of saying Ann Romney deserves sexism. Comment on privilege all you want. Have at it. It’s just not the discussion *I* am having with Laura.

  339. pheeno

    “You are not arguing with ME, pheeno. I am not arguing with YOU”

    Good.

    “It’s just not the discussion *I* am having with Laura.”

    Then stop addressing the posts with ” PHEENO”.

    Can’t imagine WHY I get the idea that you’re talking to me while you use my name and all.

  340. pheeno

    “I’m confused as to why you think you are not being allowed to talk about privilege.”

    Jesus christ on a cracker. I don’t think I’m not being allowed to talk about fucking privilege, TH and I just got stuck in a miscommunication circle that I wanted to move on from. Evidently, when I read a post with my name smack in front, I stupidly assume I’m being addressed.

  341. Anne

    “Frankly, I’m more concerned about the war on women than I am about the economy.”

    The war on women is the economy. Scapegoating women and minorities is how they distract from the fact that they’ve been siphoning all the revenue off to their rich friends for the last 30+ years. War on women policies also create more poor people.

  342. Friend of Snakes

    TwissB said:
    “Just caught up with your comment about the hoodie-wearing thief in the VA state police video.. How did you know he (?) was white?”

    I watched the video. The only uncovered part of the thief’s body visible was his hand, shown as he pulled the car door shut. It was very pale, indeed.

    In no way connected to the above is the following: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-india-17812352

    Half of homes in India have no toilet; perhaps two thirds in rural areas have no toilet. So when folks aren’t just relieving themselves out in the open, they use public toilets. Surprise! Women have to pay to use public toilets; men don’t.

    The article is accompanied by a photo illustrating one such facility being used by a man. It is located over a river in which children are swimming. There is so much to blame here.

  343. pheeno

    ht tp://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/ict_sbc/why-do-you-indians-always-live-in-the-past

    Interesting read.

  344. tinfoil hattie

    I remember pay toilets in the US when I was a kid. But only for women, of course.

    In friend of snakes’s link, of course, the women & children ARE the public toilet. Hey, at least they’re honest about it, amirite?

  345. Friend of Snakes

    “I remember pay toilets in the US when I was a kid. But only for women, of course.”

    Now that you mention it, in my mind’s eye I can see the chrome-plated thing you put the coin(s) in as plain as can be. Dunno about the only for the laydees aspect, as I would have never seen the inside of the men’s loo at that age. At any rate, I recall the pay toilets in department stores. Those were the stalls you could count on being clean. In the free ones, all bets were off.

  346. nails

    note on ann romney: the mormon church looks down on women who don’t stay at home. Being looked down on may not be such a big deal in most churches, but the LDS church has a powerful grip on the social life of its members. If she strayed too far from the church’s teaching she might have had her reccomend taken away, and she would not be able to attend family weddings or the temple anymore. She had less of a choice than most other women about working. I found a lot of old church books recently, one gem was “if You Must Work”, basically a guide to not totally losing your self esteem if you have to work outside the home. Interested parties can read the “mothers who know” speech from the relief society president, just googling the name will bring up the speech will give you all insight into the culture of the LDS church and women inside of it. I find it hard to stomach her saying it was hard work raising her sons, because I know that none of the people who run the church (men) would say that except to get one of their own elected. Most men here would laugh at a woman claiming that. To them its like a toaster complaining that making toast is hard; being a domestic “help meet” is what women are *for* according to the church. And sex/pregnancy, obviously. I have heard countless men tell me that their wives don’t do “real” work since I have moved here, even though most have several more children than the average american family. Women who get beaten up by their husbands get disciplined by the church if they initiate a divorce. Women remain “sealed” to their first husbands, meaning they have to live with them in the afterlife, while their husbands can get sealed to an infinite number of wives. Bishops, like Mitt Romney, counseled single mothers to give their children up to the LDS adoption program even when the children were wanted. The same division of the church ran a native american adoption program until 1996, putting native children into homes where they were taught that god cursed their ancestors with dark skin for being disobedient and savage. The way that women get to the best section of heaven is via their husbands, they can’t do it on their own because the entry criteria for women is to get married in the temple and have babies. That is all she is for to them. Ann romney has been helping out an openly racist, classist, and misogynistic organization her entire life.

    The community she is claiming to be a part of (students with children at BYU) is scoffing at her assertions of knowing what it is like, because most of the people in that community live in poverty. The typical BYU student with children is extremely poor, so much so that it delays their degree by several years. It is because the church says it is sinful to delay having children until after a degree (or until any goal really), and since sexual sin is “next to murder in seriousness” most kids get married young to someone they don’t even know that well so they can have sex. No one in the church discourages young, quick marriages, I’ve seen a fair share of them since I have moved here. It is rare for people to wait a whole year. Most of the women who are actually in a broke family but won’t work outside the home because its “wrong” are working like pioneers (sewing clothes for the entire family, grinding wheat, etc). This is all in addition to the free labor the church gets out of families via “callings”, in addition to the 10% of tithing that they demand to remain in good standing.

    I really wish the story would focus on the exploitation of poor people by the church for gain. They built a mall that cost 5 billion dollars across the street from the SLC temple. They have luxury hotels in hawaii. Meanwhile there are members who have to choose between buying diapers and paying tithing- I heard one ex-mormon talk about that dilemma, and after *he chose to pay tithing* his credit limit was raised so he was luckily able to buy diapers. he thought god did that for him so he could provide for his kid. Its a fucking cult, no doubt about it to me. A lot of people are in debt for the rest of their lives, or go bankrupt several times, because of how the church told them to manage their finances. The position of high-status members in multi-level-marketing scams (especially NuSkin) adds to the poverty of the general church population, especially in Utah. People sign their whole ward up for NuSkin or Amway and people trust each other and end up ruined. The church does nothing to stop it because most of these companies are run by faithful members who will keep their 10% rolling in regularly. The Romneys have financial ties to NuSkin, by the way.

    The romneys are like the MLM early birds, the thousand or so people who make money on amway or nuskin, and they are telling everyone below them how they totally understand what it is like, after all they belong to nuskin too! It is such a blatant lie that it inspires contempt in me to hear it.

    I have a feeling that this discussion will turn into another palingate, where some posters feel that any disapproval of ann romney’s statements is unacceptable while others continue to analyze the class and racial privilege problems associated with her arguments.

  347. Shelby

    Fuck me. This backlash is interminable.

  348. buttercup

    I found “under the banner of heaven” to be a very illuminating book, as well as the books by Carolyn Jessup and other mormon women who have escaped. It’s definitely a cult, even the non-FLDS variety.

  349. TwissB

    @nails. Thanks for this remarkable post. One Q: I recall reading somewhere that Ann Romney was brought up as an Episcopalian and joined the Mormon Church when she married Mitt.

    When I spent some time in Salt Lake City in the 1970′s, it was still a distinctive-looking town with clear sparkling air and surrounded by a wall of beautiful mountains. I photographed the things that symbolized its principal themes – the Temple and associated buildings dominating all, the house that was home to Brigham Young and his multiple wives, the bronze statues scattered around the downtown depicting the joys of Mormon life – upstanding patriarchs, sweet wives playing with their their children, Brigham Young handing his grateful wife a coin to initiate the charitable enterprises that, if they prospered, were taken over by the men, and the tableau of a lad helping a smaller boy to join him atop a pedestal as a little girl in a dress, of course, stands by holding her doll and looking up at the ascent of man. I also recorded the notable profusion of candy companies and waterbed stores, and the open field with a sign planted on it advertising dream houses to come with the enticing message “Dad’s money, Mom’s home.

  350. Friend of Snakes

    You know the old joke:

    Q: What’s the difference between a cult and a religion?
    A: About a hundred years.

    They’re all cults. Dunno about you, but I grew up Methodist. We didn’t even get to drink wine. The blood of Jesus that we drank was grape juice; the body we ate was plain old spongy white bread. I didn’t think being a cannibal was culty at all back then.

  351. goblinbee

    Enjoyed your post, Nails, but wanted to clear up one thing. Mormon women, even those with children, do not have their temple recommends taken away if they work outside the home. You didn’t say otherwise, but it might have seemed implied.

    I also always argue with the cult designation for any belief or religion, because it just seems like a handy insult (often hurled at one religious person by another).

  352. pheeno

    They’re all cults and they can all kiss my cursed, disobedient, savage ass.

  353. tinfoil hattie

    TH and I just got stuck in a miscommunication circle that I wanted to move on from.

    TH & pheeno: fondly miscommunicating ourselves into a pretzel since 2006.

    But I am DEFINITELY understanding, and agreeing with, your “kiss my … ass” sentiment! As I usually do with the comments you make.

  354. tinfoil hattie

    and i am too old and decrepit to close my tags properly on this tiny phone screen. Sorry!

  355. skeptifem

    re: “they are all cults”

    The word “cult” becomes meaningless if every religion is a cult. There are clear patterns of behavior that cult leaders engage in to gain an irrationally strong grip on their worshippers. Almost any non-cult church is easy to leave, and comparatively easy to stay in. My religious upbringing was like that. It was easy to leave and there wasn’t anything secret to learn about, it was all available to anyone who wanted to look. They asked for money but no one checked your income against your check or anything weird like that, they assumed the best. That is normal in most religions.

    I had a friend growing up whose family joined a cult. The church looked normal but it got to take up so much of their time and the church was demanding a lot of money, so her family stopped going. Every week the church members would call (and get the answering machine) and leave messages about how *sad* everyone at church was that they were gone, and how much everyone loved them, etc. It was a totally different thing from any church I knew. A non-cult doesn’t make you change your phone number or move to get away.

    Cults like mormonism and scientology keep secrets from members until they are in too deep to easily leave. Both make incredible demands on the time and money of members. Both harass people if they attempt to leave the church (the LDS church will send missionaries to your house regularly if you leave, and can usually find you if you move). Both require rigorous conformity and do not allow personal boundaries (bishops conduct interviews with members as young as twelve, and it includes sexual questions, this is in addition to the underwear business). Cults do not allow criticism of any sort of leadership. Cults use shunning as punishment and love bombing as a reward. Cults isolate members from their non-believing friends and family, like how the LDS church won’t allow non mormons to weddings. There are more comprehensive lists out there of cult tactics, but I feel comfortable saying the majority of religious people do not belong to cults.

  356. lizor

    @TwissB
    April 17, 2012 at 10:54 am

    Love your point about the benefits of certain racial profiling and the (as per usual) invisibility of women’s experience in the whole discussion.

    It seems to me that one of the key mechanisms that keeps the hierarchy and the economy going is the fact that men will readily abandon their own children without a second thought and that there are little or no impediments to them doing so. Women’s moral centre, which is, generally speaking, a zillion times more developed and socially oriented than the boys’, can’t do that. Most could not live with themselves. Those who could or would are social pariahs.

    I really enjoyed the part of the old Fay Weldon book Life and Loves of a She-Devil where the abandoned wife drops the kids off on the husband’s doorstep. The rest of the story kind of went to rat-shit after that.

  357. redpeachmoon

    Great essay Nails! Thanks for filling the gap while we wait for Twisty.
    Will there be no Twistalution??
    You are missed.

  358. buttercup

    I have found this Cult evaluation tool very handy, especially when my kids were going through an adolescent ultrareligious state.

    http://www.neopagan.net/ABCDEF.html

    I think all religions can be loosely defined as cultish, but I agree with Skeptifem that a capital C Cult is a different kettle of fish altogether.

  359. pheeno

    From my viewpoint, they’re all cults. Some may be easier to physically leave, but mentally, the beliefs pop up to torment you or cause you to doubt yourself and your choice to leave. It’s hard to undo from birth brainwashing and being taught X is right or X exists or if you stop believing in X, horrible Y will happen. Cult doesn’t become meaningless, it’s eye opening and chilling to discover they’re all cults. It’s even more chilling when you realize some cults are Dominant/mainstream/acceptable and are allowed a tight grip of control over the very government that you’re subject to.

  360. pheeno

    “TH & pheeno: fondly miscommunicating ourselves into a pretzel since 2006.”

    haha!

  361. Laurie

    Thanks for the rundown, Nails. We have a lot of Mormons in our small redneck town, but the fundies outnumber them. Unlike the fundies, they don’t mess with our local abortion clinic — their oppressions are less public.

    Friend of Snakes, I’d never heard that hundred-years crack, but it’s too true from where I sit.

    Skeptifem, I get your point, but life in a small, impoverished rural town for more than 20 years gives me a different view. Fundamental charismatic pentecostalism is the fastest-growing “religion” in the U.S., and the lines are pretty blurry.

    Over the years, as the small progressive/feminist community here watched in horror, a tiny local fundie church expanded into a megachurch that has now taken over our town, using “angel feathers” (pillow feathers tossed into the AC vent), “gold” dust, talk of “spare body parts stores” in Heaven enabling instant healing, and other outrageous hocus pocus that would be laughed at in a big city. Their teens are now lurking around town with public “prayer tents,” even accosting unwary hikers on our river trail with flash-mob-style “healings.”

    No matter how crazy this shit seems to us, it’s now considered mainstream by our ultra-rightwing citizens. Even those who haven’t fallen for it don’t mind because it’s the only thing that brings in money here: Now it’s one of the town’s biggest (and only) employers, drawing thousands of eager students (with their dollars spent in the community) from all over the world to attend its ‘Institute of Supernatural Studies,” where they’re taught how to prime the tongue-talking process by chanting nonsense phrases “I shoulda bought a Honda!” They’ve even commandeered our city convention center and are gaining dominance on the city council and county board of supervisors, as well as the school board.

    This kind of thing is happening in small towns throughout the U.S. Pentecostal churches use the standard cult/Xian techniques, just amped up: isolation, homeschooling unconnected to fact (cavemen riding dinosaurs in the “history” text); day-long ecstatic tongue-talking sessions; public shaming of women, with forced public confessions of sexual misconduct; and the standard hatred and fear of lesbians, gays, Obama, “liberals,” environmentalists, and just about anything in the outside world.

    New stats nationwide are reporting reduced religiosity in young people overall — my only hope, but small-town America doesn’t seem to have gotten the message yet, at least here in Far NorCal. The harder life gets around here, the more folks jump on board, it seems. Scary.

  362. anyc

    Pheeno, I agree -all religions are cults. Like the joke that someone posted earlier about a 100 years being the difference between a cult and religion, the Catholic church may,presently not exhibit the characterisrics a cult does, it certainly started out that way. Look how far Scientology has come since it’s beginnings; it’s been 50(60?)-some years since it’s begun, and our government gives it religious protection now.
    P.S. Twisty, where are you? You’re missed!

  363. tinfoil hattie

    I have a feeling that this discussion will turn into another palingate, where some posters feel that any disapproval of ann romney’s statements is unacceptable

    I don’t think anyone here claimed that. I think it’s disingenuous to imply that experienced, advanced blamers can’t separate critique of a woman’s statements from critique of a woman via her being called a b**** or a c*** or being instructed to iron someone’s shirt or make him a sandwich. Sarah Palin is loathsome, no doubt. As Ann Romney may be: I don’t know. I haven’t heard her say much. I’ve heard her husband speak for her, though.

    What I do know is that no woman deserves the sexist crap that all women receive, every minute of every day.

  364. Fictional Queen

    I found this blog:
    http://www.whywomenhatemen.blogspot.com/
    It’s HILARIOUS. I laughed a lot at it. It’s written by a dude so sometimes he mentions dudely things that are disgusting, naturally. But besides those, it’s so funny!!
    I think us females who hate men should embrace it and be proud of it! Why the hell not?!
    http://rageagainstthemanchine.com/2009/07/05/why-i-hate-men-part-1-and-then-it-hit-me/

  365. Fictional Queen

    Oh no, my comment is in moderation. I just wanted to tell you about this blog: http://www.whywomenhatemen.blogspot.com/ It is HILARIOUS. (It’s written by a man so sometimes there are natural male deficiencies).

  366. Fictional Queen

    And I want to complain! I recently started working. The workplace has arrogant and annoying males. It’s almost amusing watching arrogant men, there’s something pathetic about them.
    The other day one guy joked about someone, “she’s such a feminist!” and she was like no, not at all! Not at all! That was depressing. I would have said thank you!
    This misconception about feminism is so successful. No one has any idea what it’s actually about, but they believe the bullshit stereotypes. Maybe if people knew what feminism actually was, they would find that they agree with it. Then again, they’re most likely sexism loving assholes who cannot grasp of a world without feminism.
    I’ve observed again and again at university, say something anti-female and everyone will agree with you. Say something that is not even anti-male but the truth about males and everyone will completely and simultaneously disagree with you! I’m tired of this male-worshipping. They aren’t even cool! They’re arrogant, stupid, deficient, self-centered jerks with EXTREMELY limited world views that center on just themselves.

  367. Noel

    Speedbudget -

    That Youtube video broke my fucking heart. Will post on my blog.

    Thanks for sharing.

  368. Claire

    “Women’s moral centre, which is, generally speaking, a zillion times more developed and socially oriented than the boys’, can’t do that. Most could not live with themselves. Those who could or would are social pariahs.” – lizor

    You got that right. After YEARS of sustained psychological torture, among other crap, I (briefly) considered moving to another part of the state and leaving the whole nasty business of my ‘custody arrangement’ behind. Packed my kids’ stuff up, wrote a note, gave it to the ex and everything. I very nearly went through with it.

    The day after, I called him and the whole thing off. The thought of living without my son, with him not knowing where I was or why I left, with his father feeding him nonsense about me ‘not loving him enough’ to stay or maybe even making up some shit like I was dead, the notion that he could potentially even feel responsible for me leaving, was truly unbearable. I’ve never experienced that level of emptiness, that depth of pain before. Never want to again.

    If I had gone through with it? You bet your ass I would’ve been banished to the hills by everyone in sight; women, men, feminist and non-feminist alike, regardless of how close to madness I was, how much horrible bullshit I had tolerated (and continue to tolerate) for years on end just to remain on the extreme periphery of my son’s life. There would’ve been no end to it, no understanding, no offers of encouragement/healing, no forgiveness or absolution.

    All that, on top of the unspeakable pain of losing my child? Would’ve had me committing suicide in extremely short order.

    Going on record as to being completely supportive of female parents who walk away from situations like mine. Who just walk the fuck away and start over. Seriously, I salute them. They are making the incredibly brave and fully justified decision to refuse the emotional torture, blackmail and endless suffering that parenting can and often does become for women in favor of their own happiness (however fragmented/limited by the absence of their children). Consequences (which are always forthcoming, severe, and almost always unyielding) be damned.

    I endeavor to be half that strong.

    In conclusion, children, and the having and raising of them, has forever been used as a weapon of attack and total control against women. In the ugliest of ways. Perhaps that would stop being the case if more of us just walked the fuck away from these nightmares, perhaps not.

    It isn’t a good idea for the kids of course, but neither is being taught that women are made for suffering, misery and eternal use and abuse by everyone around them, powerless to stop it, defend themselves, their lives, their kid’s lives or self-determination in any way, perpetually vulnerable to even their own spouses, and sometimes even their own children (how often do kids come out of hostile custody/parenting situations *not* outright hating, or at least being especially suspicious of/angry at/otherwise blamey and judgmental towards their mothers, regardless of the shit their fathers have pulled?).

  369. Noel

    Sorry, not sure why I entered my legal name instead of my actual name.

    Same comment, less confusing attribution:

    “Women’s moral centre, which is, generally speaking, a zillion times more developed and socially oriented than the boys’, can’t do that. Most could not live with themselves. Those who could or would are social pariahs.” – lizor

    You got that right. After YEARS of sustained psychological torture, among other crap, I (briefly) considered moving to another part of the state and leaving the whole nasty business of my ‘custody arrangement’ behind. Packed my kids’ stuff up, wrote a note, gave it to the ex and everything. I very nearly went through with it.

    The day after, I called him and the whole thing off. The thought of living without my son, with him not knowing where I was or why I left, with his father feeding him nonsense about me ‘not loving him enough’ to stay or maybe even making up some shit like I was dead, the notion that he could potentially even feel responsible for me leaving, was truly unbearable. I’ve never experienced that level of emptiness, that depth of pain before. Never want to again.

    If I had gone through with it? You bet your ass I would’ve been banished to the hills by everyone in sight; women, men, feminist and non-feminist alike, regardless of how close to madness I was, how much horrible bullshit I had tolerated (and continue to tolerate) for years on end just to remain on the extreme periphery of my son’s life. There would’ve been no end to it, no understanding, no offers of encouragement/healing, no forgiveness or absolution.

    All that, on top of the unspeakable pain of losing my child? Would’ve had me committing suicide in extremely short order.

    Going on record as to being completely supportive of female parents who walk away from situations like mine. Who just walk the fuck away and start over. Seriously, I salute them. They are making the incredibly brave and fully justified decision to refuse the emotional torture, blackmail and endless suffering that parenting can and often does become for women in favor of their own happiness (however fragmented/limited by the absence of their children). Consequences (which are always forthcoming, severe, and almost always unyielding) be damned.

    I endeavor to be half that strong.

    In conclusion, children, and the having and raising of them, has forever been used as a weapon of attack and total control against women. In the ugliest of ways. Perhaps that would stop being the case if more of us just walked the fuck away from these nightmares, perhaps not.

    It isn’t a good idea for the kids of course, but neither is being taught that women are made for suffering, misery and eternal use and abuse by everyone around them, powerless to stop it, defend themselves, their lives, their kid’s lives or self-determination in any way, perpetually vulnerable to even their own spouses, and sometimes even their own children (how often do kids come out of hostile custody/parenting situations *not* outright hating, or at least being especially suspicious of/angry at/otherwise blamey and judgmental towards their mothers, regardless of the shit their fathers have pulled?).

  370. i have a cat

    @noel Thanks for your brave post. Children are such a complicated subject and yes, I agree, in our culture, used as a tool to manipulate and control women by bestowing false rewards on those who have and raise children the ‘right’ way, and heaping palatable hatred and contempt on all the rest. I didn’t walk away from children, but chose not to have them, and have been paying the price of that choice: questioning my sense of self, my sense of worth, and my sense of sanity. I feel like I can’t escape the dominant social narrative enough to just be comfortable with my choice. IBTP.

  371. Hari

    Noel–

    Thanks for all of that. I, too, came perilously close to walking away from my youngest son due to the torturous legal and social siege of his biodad. Between being in so much pain and so exhausted from his insanity myself, and also fearing that the war necessary to protect my child would only harm us both unendingly, disappearing looked like the best thing to do even for my son. I, too, even made a plan and spoke it to the ex/his attorney. But I couldn’t go through with it, either. Getting that man out of our lives was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and it did cause longterm harm–just probably not nearly the harm caused, to both my son and me, by walking away. Once I realized that I couldn’t leave, I set my heels good–and decided that I would do all in my power to defeat my ex legally. With that came my firm resolve to kill him, should I fail by any acceptable means. It didn’t come to that–but I fully believe that at some level I communicated THAT level of commitment to my ex, and he finally walked away.

    Yes, the P uses children to attack and torture non-compliant womyn (all womyn, really–perhaps especially disobedient womyn).

  372. Alouette

    Sorry for barging in on the personal conversation, but I wanted to add something.

    If most women can’t bear to part from their children, that only makes it all the more important to warn women that haven’t had children to never, ever allow themselves to be impregnated under any circumstances. Whenever the subject comes up irl, I allude to the fact that women and girls are still literally PIVed to death in other countries and it wasn’t so long ago that applied to all women. Don’t know if it does any good considering most (all?) women I know, like most women in the world, are in varying degrees of denial. I have also decided to encourage my friends that have unwanted pregnancies to terminate, regardless of the circumstances. Anyway, I just worry about how feminists will ever get through to these women that this view is not inherently anti motherhood or anti pregnancy, but just an acknowledgement that both of these things have been corrupted by males for use as tools of oppression.

  373. qvaken

    Noel and Hari: You reminded me of this horrid passage from a non-fiction that I read recently. I blame the patriarchy for what this young mother and her four children went through at the hands of the father, and I blame the patriarchy for the shitty outcome to her attempts to right his wrongs.

    “At first [Mum] went to a male friend and asked him to put her up. Initially he promised to care for her until she sorted herself out, but it wasn’t long before she realized he was going to want to pimp for her just like Dad and she knew her only chance was to leave Norwich for ever and start afresh somewhere else, somewhere where nobody knew about her past. When you’re known to be a prostitute and all the people you socialize with belong to the same world, it’s almost impossible to change anything as long as you stay in the same town; you have to make a clean break. Carrying the suitcase that contained all the possessions she had left in the world she walked out to the ring road and hitched a lift with a lorry driver.
    [...] She got herself a job in a hotel as a chambermaid and found a bed-sitting room. She contacted social services back in Norwich to tell them she’d gone and to ask them to take us into care, telling them yet again what her fears were for us. Her greatest fear, she said, was for me because of the number of times Dad had told her, and anyone else who would listen, that he was going to ‘break me in’ and put me on the game as soon as I was old enough. She knew him well enough to be sure that he wasn’t bluffing. If he had been willing to put his own wife, the love of his life, on the game, why wouldn’t he do the same to his daughter? She told them how dangerous she knew Dad was, feeling certain that they would take us away from him and put us into safe homes.
    When the social workers arrived at the house that day, Dad was out with [my elder brother] and me but they must have broken in because they found [my younger brothers] Chris and Glen, who were two and three years old by then, abandoned in their locked bedroom as usual. Neither of them reacted to the strangers who suddenly appeared beside them. They just stared straight ahead with deadened eyes. Chris was rocking rhythmically back and forth in his cot and Glen was so hungry he was actually eating the contents of his own soiled nappy.
    It was that scene, discovered by social workers, that sealed Mum’s reputation as a terrible mother, giving Dad the opportunity to make out he was some sort of local hero by default.”

    -Maria Landon, Daddy’s Little Earner (2008)

  374. Jen

    Alouette,

    As a woman who doesn’t have children (yet?), I’d like to hear more about your advice that it’s “important to warn women that haven’t had children to never, ever allow themselves to be impregnated under any circumstances.”

  375. Hilda

    Does anyone have any good recommendations for radical feminist reading about the experience of pregnancy, childbirth and mothering? I’ve just finished Adrienne Rich’s *Of Woman Born* and would like to find something else similar. A lot of radfem commentary centers (rightly) on the pitfalls of being a mother in the patriarchy and ends up warning women to avoid becoming a mother altogether. That makes perfect sense… but somewhere I want to read more about how to approach mothering from a radfem perspective when you are already a mother, or when you still choose to reproduce.

    So, any suggestions for good books or other resources?

  376. KittyWrangler

    Well. My friends told me “Cabin In The Woods” was really funny so I went to see it with my husband. If anyone on the internet ever again claims that Joss Whedon is a feminist I’m going to FLIP MY SHIT. Without the patriarchal gaze it could have been so much funnier. I wanted to leave halfway through, but apparently I’m the only one on the planet who doesn’t love “Cabin.” And yes, I *understand* that it is satirical.

    Does anyone have any other recommendations while we all weather this period of blogular sporadicism?

  377. KittyWrangler

    @Fictional Queen
    “This misconception about feminism is so successful. No one has any idea what it’s actually about, but they believe the bullshit stereotypes.”

    Agreed! Though I do also find it difficult to balance accepting other people’s concepts of Feminism within the movement, with trying to tell clueless outsiders, “that’s not what Feminism is!” That is, balancing an open mind within the movement with any sort of united front to outsiders. Because someone always knows someone who says they’re feminist, and they love pin-ups, or don’t mind rape jokes, or looove staying home with kids soooo much, or thinks women are biologically subservient, or whatever. Within the argument I don’t have any claim to be the *real* Feminist, as opposed to their oh-so-convenient friend, so all I can say is, “I’m a Feminist and I don’t believe that. Neither do some other Feminists I know.” That’s pretty weak sauce.

    And I’m sorry to hear you work with d-bags. Having to remain professional in the face of misogyny is SO soul-killing.

  378. nails

    Oh man now people are going to start shit talking pregnancy. “never get pregnant”. That sounds a lot like “never have an abortion”. Do you want to tell women what to do with their uterus (for their own good, of course), or not? I am not able to tell someone the future or if they will regret it or not, why pretend?

    Women who are moms or want to be comprise the majority of women, and they are ignored by most feminists. Fun feminists write rants about how gross it all is and how it will ruin the sexual worth of a womans body, and radical ones talk about how they are killing the planet and being stupid for complying with patriarchy (even though everyone does, its just a matter of degree). Its bull, women raise the next generation of humans and have no exposure to feminist ideas to pass on because of the bias against pregnancy within feminism. These are some of the most vulnerable women too, the legacy of patriarchal obstetric practice still exists today, so they have the potential to be helped the most in the process.

    I am not convinced that the imperative of some women to have children can be realistically suppressed by philosophical or political arguments. After all, even pro-motherhood folks are eager to tell teenagers how their lives are ruined if they get pregnant and it does nothing to prevent teen pregnancies. I don’t think it is because every teen mom secretly wanted an abortion and couldn’t get one, either. Having children is something people find fulfilling and desirable for a variety of reasons.

    The variety of circumstances for pregnancy are ignored here too. My aunt got pregnant by a sperm donor and isn’t looking for a man, but apparently she is complaint with patriarchy(moreso than non-pregnant women)? Lesbian couples get pregnant because they desire children. Who are you to tell them not to?

  379. Margaret

    There is very little so vulnerable under patriarchy as a mother. For this reason it is perilous to become a mother, by choice or not. By choice, I would want to be wealthy enough never to have to depend upon a man for food clothing and shelter for me and any children, and I would want a situation in which, should the man I,m with show his colours as a true patriarchal ass which happens all too often when a child comes along, I could extricate myself . This is a near impossible condition to meet. Nothing sucks like having to rely on the caprices of a baby father to do the right thing with regard to the mother and child. And have to suffer when, to some degree he doesn,t. And mostly, he doesn,t act like a full partner thus the womens double work day, lack of leisure time or even enough hours to sleep adequately. The conditions for motherhood under patriarchy make it potentially soul and body destroying. Would I go back and have babies again knowing waht I know now, after surviving a brutal 20 year reality check while raising them? No way. No matter how much I would love to be a mother.

  380. Noel

    Nails -

    There’s nothing inherently wrong with pregnancy or raising children. Natural and normal.

    The having and raising of children under the circumstances/terms of patriarchy makes women uniquely and extremely vulnerable to oppression, coercion and abuse, however. That fact can’t be ignored, and there should be strategies in place to address it…with both the childless/childfree *and* the already childed (often run across the sentiment here and elsewhere that women with children are somehow beyond saving once the deed’s been done. Enraging! We often need the most help, and are shunned/ignored by those who give lip-service to giving a shit about us when convenient, but in practice turn their backs and leave us, and our babies, to suffer, scrape by and starve. Experienced this myself, and it is truly sickening).

    You’re dead-on that mainstream/radical feminism of the white, heteronormative, well-to-do, academic, classist-as-fuck and racist-as-shit variety invisibilizes female parents (absolutely loathe the terms ‘mother’, ‘mothering’ and more often than not ‘mom’, use them as little as possible), especially those who are poor, disabled, addicted, entangled in horrible relationships to horrible men, of color/otherwise considered ‘less’. It’s awful, awful, awful.

    Women need to be cautioned before having children. Strongly. They need to have the rose-colored blindfolds ripped off and to be told the truth. The whole truth. By women who know, who’ve been there and back, who fight in the trenches every day. Women need to fully understand that pregnancy and parenting, in addition to being incredibly difficult, time-consuming, expensive and risky of their own accord, are often life-threatening/life-destroying states of being for us; rendering us fully (and sometimes permanently) vulnerable to coercion, control, abuse by the men who claim to love us/love our children and exposing us indefinitely to an exponentially increased risk of death and immeasurable suffering of epic physical, mental, emotional, social and financial proportions from many different sides.

    Or we could just keep on with the empty congratulations, half-hearted baby showers, cold shoulders by family, friends and political ‘allies’ once the baby is born, crap wages, substandard child/health care, medical torture, rape, disfigurement and possible permanent disability/death by way of ‘obstetric care’, poverty, lifelong financial dependency on others goodwill/charity and ducking at shadows/making the increasingly desperate choices of the increasingly desperate, constant fear of homelessness/starvation, eternal lack of options, misery, substandard housing, constant struggle to get to/keep jobs, repeated cycles/familial legacies of neglect and abuse, forced prostitution/trafficking, loss of custody, violence and unfathomable pain all inherent in much of the parenting being done by many of the world’s women, at the ultimate expense of themselves, their children and everyone around them.

    It doesn’t have to be this way. Truly informed potential female parents will be better, and fewer, than the alternative.

  381. Hari

    Noel and Alouette–

    I agree that womyn need to know the whole truth about having children, in order to make the most fully informed choices about becoming mothers. That whole truth includes the wonders and satisfactions of bearing and living with children (and I say “living with” because they are not just dependents in need of our nurture, they are our life-companions as well); the truth includes the merely mundane material realities, and it includes as well the vicious facts of life in patriarchy for mothers and children.

    An aside here, on the use of mother and mothering instead of parenting: womyn who bear children are called mothers in English. And mothering is, the vast majority of the time, a greatly different thing than fathering in patriarchy. I honor myself and all mothers by calling us by the name that points out a distinction. I WISH I could just be a parent–but no. In the P, I am a mother and that does have special distinction, in terms of joy and wonder, as well as terms of vulnerability to abuse.

    In any event, I’d love to see womyn fully informed about all of it, in order to make sensible choices they are most likely to be able to live well with, over time. Ignorance and denial is the enemy of all womyn, for sure. And I would not tell womyn who seek to become mothers that they should not do so! We do not better our lives by giving up what is, for many, one of the chief joys and satisfactions of being a womyn (though not required for a womyn’s joy and satisfaction). If I’d been more informed, I definitely would have made different choices about mothering–designed to maximize the joys and minimize the abuses. Now, the best I can do for all womyn is to speak the whole truth about having kids–and encourage would-be mothers to first, be sure they are ready to sign up for a big job which lasts a very long time and which they might end up doing alone, or with the further complication of step-family involved. And further, I can speak of how best to plan for reaping the joys of motherhood while being fiercely protective–to avoid excessive vulnerability to the abuse of mothers and children that is rampant in the P. It took me too long to attain the fierce protectiveness, and that is probably my only regret in having kids; this has nothing to do with mothering or the nature of children, and everything to do with life in the P which hates womyn and children about equally.

  382. lizor

    In my lived experience, becoming a mother/female parent equalled being a single parent. All of my friends started out having babies with Dad on the scene and somehow inevitably ended up carrying all of the responsibility themselves.

    Besides all of the risks enumerated by Noel and the great points brought up by others, the fact that men feel no obligation to their kids and society consistently, not only forgives them for that, it encourages it, leaves women as a group in a socially disadvantaged position. We do the most important work – as Nails says – bringing up the next generation of citizens and that work is not recognized or supported financially or otherwise in any significant way.

    It seems to me – having been abandoned by my father before I can remember and having a string of self-interested assholes in his wake to contend with, that this situation serves to perpetuate the P very nicely. I spent my early years searching for a stable father figure and got deeply harmed in the process. I could not name this until much later. I am just lucky I got out with a couple of rapes and some emotional abuse. It could have been much worse.

    As for what to do about it? Well, I can say that many of my friends’ kids are young adults now, and for the most part they have raised self-possessed, critical thinkers. The mothers sacrificed much of their own lives to do so and I am so grateful to them for being great parents. But at the same time, I am angry on their behalf.

  383. Hari

    thanks for all that, lizor, especially your final paragraph.

  384. pandechion

    Lizor, yes. When my daughter was about two, my (male) married bosses suggested that I work late just like the guys, because my self-employed husband could obviously pick the kid up from daycare. I can’t even imagine what it would’ve taken to make him dependably do that. More leverage than I had over him, certainly.

    And now that we’re divorcing and I’m going to become an actual single parent, I can’t imagine they’re going to think much more highly of me at the office.

  385. Laura

    Dang, pandechion.

    I’m going to have to tell my unicorn how much I appreciate him. He didn’t think the afterschool program at our daughter’s elementary school took sufficient care, (and he had reason to think so,) and so he set about asking people for refs and scoping out other programs until he found one that suited him (and her, and me.) I let him take the lead on that and was happy to do it.

    On the flip side, he set such a high standard for polite and courteous behavior that I don’t think I’m ever going to get grandchildren. Last year after my daughter kicked her boyfriend to the curb for being rude and ugly, she said to me, “You got the last one, didn’t you.”

  386. tinfoil hattie

    My experience of motherhood has been one of great joy, love, fun, and healing. I am unique and privileged in this. My wish is that anyone who wants to be a mother could have a similar result. I thoroughly and angrily BTP that this will NOT be the case, that I am the outlier rather than the rule.

    One thing I do is tell young hetero women not to take s*** from their “boyfriends.” Holy toledo, is THAT an uphill battle. I was at the local h.s. the other day, volunteering, and I turned to my sophomore helper, nodded toward the stream of kids going by, and said: “Beware the ‘boyfriend’ who drags you down the hall with your neck in the crook of his elbow. That’s not ‘love,’ it’s abuse.” She sort of laughed but I’m not sure she got it.

    Sigh. Naturally, any affection demonstrated between girls stands a great chance of being labeled “inappropriate.”

    I HATE the P.

  387. Jane

    “”…Women need to be cautioned before having children. Strongly. They need to have the rose-colored blindfolds ripped off and to be told the truth. The whole truth. By women who know, who’ve been there and back, who fight in the trenches every day. Women need to fully understand that pregnancy and parenting, in addition to being incredibly difficult, time-consuming, expensive and risky of their own accord, are often life-threatening/life-destroying states of being for us; rendering us fully (and sometimes permanently) vulnerable to coercion, control, abuse by the men who claim to love us/love our children and exposing us indefinitely to an exponentially increased risk of death and immeasurable suffering of epic physical, mental, emotional, social and financial proportions from many different sides.

    Or we could just keep on with the empty congratulations, half-hearted baby showers, cold shoulders by family, friends and political ‘allies’ once the baby is born, crap wages, substandard child/health care, medical torture, rape, disfigurement and possible permanent disability/death by way of ‘obstetric care’, poverty, lifelong financial dependency on others goodwill/charity and ducking at shadows/making the increasingly desperate choices of the increasingly desperate, constant fear of homelessness/starvation, eternal lack of options, misery, substandard housing, constant struggle to get to/keep jobs, repeated cycles/familial legacies of neglect and abuse, forced prostitution/trafficking, loss of custody, violence and unfathomable pain all inherent in much of the parenting being done by many of the world’s women, at the ultimate expense of themselves, their children and everyone around them. “”…

    Ditto, and let’s Emphasize, the ‘homelessness, starvation, eternal LACK OF OPTIONS, forced Prostitution [or I'll add, forced to endure RAPE at the Court Orders, be it for forced counseling to keep children via CPS and/or court Psyche [woman murdering pedo wank] counselors [females included here], forced enduring watching your children raped, tortured, murdered via court ordered child abuse in our Family Courts…and the Poorer you are, if you are Disabled, African American or Latino, or Asian American, etc. or Rural Poor [or god forbid from yes a Mormon controlled area or Fundie Dominion CULT, LET ME REPEAT, C.U.L.T.] area or heavily influenced urban area by the same…..or other Fundie woman hating religions, B.C. mentality…

    it’s worse.

    Think it’s not, here, check This out…court ordered father’s custody, regardless of the abuse,

    see how many Children murdered in our nation, DAILY, what is happening Deliberately to MOTHERS in this nation…in our own backyard [and I hear it's as bad in the UK as well], this woman has been keeping meticulous track, case by case, BE READY TO BE APPALLED, at just how BAD it is,

    http://dastardlydads.blogspot.com/

    found her on the Mother’s Political Party website, this is day to day month to month basis, the latest, a woman sentenced to 20 years prison, for NOT GETTING BEAT UP ENOUGH WHILE PROTECTING HER ‘CHILD’ FROM MURDER….from a dick wad DA,

    yea it makes me sick. I’ve told Both my daughters but I didn’t need to, the System has more than convinced them how DANGEROUS it is to have children because the SYSTEM is protecting and coddling their abuser [male], and he’s not even their bio father, while the system does all in their power to murder me [and let me repeat, women were huge in this too, so rose colored glasses, don't even fit my eyes anymore], anyway they won’t be having children. And it doesn’t help when my youngest daughter [16] has seen the Dominion ‘let’s go back to forced pregnancies pedo wank fest ville preaching in her Once moderate church/youth group’, she’s waiting for them to bring out the Leeches,

    it’s THAT backwards, it’s scary. And these aren’t rural folks, this is in CO near Denver…you’d be crazy to have children in this day and age.

  388. Noel

    Jane -

    Nodding along with all of what you wrote, and I feel you hard. Don’t think I have the courage to go to that site today, but thank you for posting the link.

    Whenever I read of women’s ‘joy’ in childbearing/childrearing, whenever I hear or see that word applied uncritically to parenting, I suspect cavernous class bias (in addition to race, ability and social privilege furthered by all of the preceding and more). Those writing from these positions of extreme parental privilege don’t have any real way of understanding the perspective of parents ‘below’ them in the hierarchy. Those making do with almost nothing, loving and raising children as best they can in addition to trying to survive their various, intersecting, murderous daily oppressions and traumas.

    We don’t have what they do, on any level, and we never will. That really does change everything.

    I have no family to help me. No friends to turn to. No money. Chronic, debilitating mental and physical ailments. No social currency to bargain with in my particular situation that will not cause immense harm/make things infinitely more terrible. This, or worse, is a central component of the parenting of most of the world’s women.

    Their ‘joy’ is our burden. We love our kids as fiercely, and that love is used against us in ways I couldn’t even imagine until it happened to me.

  389. Jen

    I think I feel more pressure to make a decision about whether or not to have kid(s) than pressure to have kid(s). Here’s an incomplete list of my reasoning:

    On the have-kid(s) side:
    -Experience of being a parent
    -Opportunity to pass on values (atheism, feminism, generosity, curiosity, critical thought, love of art, love of reading, etc.)
    -Educational opportunities for potential child because of my job at a university
    -Abstract desire to contribute (including biologically) to future of humanity

    On the don’t have kid(s) side:
    -Expense (may not be able to afford the option)
    -My powerful desire for time to work/think/create; fear of losing these options
    -My own psychological issues becoming my child’s psychological issues
    -Overpopulation, depletion of resources, questionable future for our species

    (I didn’t put the P on the list because hating the P wouldn’t keep me from having kid(s). I am a woman, and I am happy to be alive in spite of the P.)

  390. Katherine

    I’m probably going to regret bringing the Ann Romney thing up again, but I think one of the things she said that really got on people’s nerves was that she stayed at home to raise her sons, the implication being that women who don’t stay at home don’t raise their children.

    I have been both a stay at home mother (in the sense that I had a year’s maternity leave) and a working mother – which is quite common actually, but you’d think from some rhetoric, that it’s one or the other and ne’er the twain shall meet. I detest the Mother Wars with the fire of a thousand suns, but in this instance I think it’s fair to say that’s Rosen’s comment was not meant to communicate that stay at home mothers don’t work, but that the rich and privileged Ann Romney had not had to work a day in her life, although those of course are not the words she actually spoke, and that in response Ann Romney was making a bit of a dig at working mothers.

  391. Katherine

    And I thoroughly and wholeheartedly identify and agree with much of what is said about being a female parent/mother in the Patriarchy. I have oodles and oodles of privilege, a unicorn-esque Nigel, and get moments of great joy from being a parent, but I’ve done it once and no more, because it has harmed me in so many ways.

    Classic case of the Patriarchy placing a female status on a pedestal, then watching, hating, as every single one of us fails to reach its lofty heights.

    I have to try very hard not ask myself whether I’d still have my daughter if I knew then what I know now about the consequences of motherhood, because I suspect (and feek guilty) that the answer would be “no”.

  392. Katherine

    I’m going to have to tell my unicorn how much I appreciate him.

    Laura, I appreciate that impulse, I really do, but I regard it in myself as akin to being thankful and feeling lucky that I have never been raped, mostly. To steal a line from an excellent film, that’s as it should be!

  393. L

    With the utter, unfettered destruction of the earth’s natural resources and climate and a wildly exploding human population, I’m not sure I would want to doom another human to this world. Adoption seems a more humane option, although that’s obviously not easy on a mother either. I’m a bit sick of people’s narcissistic DNA obsession. As to Jen wanting to proselytize her beliefs to her possible child, I used to think that way too and I’m sure many people feel that way, but I realized the child will grow up to believe what they want regardless and it sounds like some unresolved control issues or vicarious living sprout that kind of desire.

    I’m still young so I don’t feel societal pressure to have a child yet. The economic damnation of many mothers is enough to put me off child-rearing now, possibly forever…

  394. Alouette

    Jen, it’s really just a matter of making the decision based on what actually happens instead of an ideal. Noel and Jane have already said it better than I could have. Given the circumstances in which we live, the easy going attitudes towards motherhood conveniently ignore the negative impact pregnancy has on women physically, economically, and socially. Remember that the potential danger has already begun once the biological father is aware of the pregnancy, and those are just the extremes. Women are asking themselves the wrong question when considering children. Instead of “Should we have kids?” it should be “Do I want to be a single mother?” If the answer is “no” to the latter, you probably should not have children. This assumes the pregnancy was planned, which most aren’t, and of course unplanned pregnancies within relationships are often carried to term without much thought because of the anti woman bias. Ultimately it is your decision to make, but I still stand by my statement that it’s in women’s best interest to not be impregnated by a male under patriarchy. The less men you are indebted to the better, I say. Maybe women will finally be able to put themselves first without the distraction of so many male relatives and ex husbands.

    Nails, you misunderstand me. As I said, my stance isn’t inherently anti motherhood, and it certainly isn’t my intention to shame women that do have children. If mothers are some of the most vulnerable, then surely women should take that into consideration? Regrets? Well, you can change your mind about having kids later, but once you do have them, they’re for life. What is it you mean by imperative? Are you saying the majority of mothers, including teen mothers, give birth because they seek it out? If so, I disagree. Women give birth so often and so early simply because males do not grant us full bodily autonomy, and virtually none in a heterosexual relationship. Sure, women can find something they enjoy about being mothers, but that doesn’t mean they don’t regret it or they would have chosen it if they had been truly free. They just aren’t allowed to express anything but selfless dedication to the mothering role without being condemned. The assumption that women have children primarily because they want them when it conflicts with the evidence seems like a malecentric viewpoint to me. Anyway, yes, even lesbians and women that use sperm banks should consider these things, especially with custody issues should something happen to the biological parent in a lesbian couple and some of the legal rulings involving sperm donors. As of today, there is still a male involved with every conception.

    Hari, yes. I’m sorry if I came off as one of those people who wants to force other women to do what I think is best. You are absolutely right that there is another side, and I would never try to silence you or any other woman with positive experiences to share. My main point is to stress that what should be a carefully weighed decision is routinely shrugged off, and it is for the benefit of men.

  395. Hari

    Alouette–

    You speak much by way of plain and awful truth, no argument except for this: “it is for the benefit of men”.

    Yes, much of the shrugging-off of the realities of motherhood in the P occurs due to the influence of the P, and for the benefit of men. And no, womyn don’t only have children for the benefit of men, and don’t choose to deal with the worst potentialities only for the benefit of men.

    To say this is too much of a blanket statement that makes all womyn appear to be entirely without agency, without any desires that are just their own, and entirely at the mercy of individual men and the P in general. That isn’t true. We can help womyn a lot by sharing our understanding of the potential horrors of mothering in the P, and just by saying to womyn in doubt about mothering: “not all womyn must have kids, do whatever you want, just because you want it” (as I told a young womyn at the gas station the other day, who was getting lectured by another customer about finding Mr Right and starting a family. Yeah, I butt in like that–and in this case, the young womyn appreciated it!). We don’t help them at all, though, by saying that there’s no such thing as a free choice around having kids, and no way for it to be a wonderful choice in enough ways to make it worth the effort.

  396. Darragh Murphy

    ” Instead of “Should we have kids?” it should be “Do I want to be a single mother?” If the answer is “no” to the latter, you probably should not have children. ”

    I love that so much, Alouette — thank you. Such a succinct way of framing what I’ve been trying to tell my daughters.

  397. veganrampage

    Nails nailed it. Great blaming happening here by many, so perhaps there is some balm in Gilead.

    Two words-Yin Yoga.

    Nay, not the Ameri-Kanized mach-0- fuck Yoga we often see, but Yoga that emphasizes gentle stretching and flexibly, and works with the body’s natural tendencies. If this practice can bring down MY pain level, which I rate a screeching agony most days, then it can work for anyone.

    It is RadFem Yoga, and I love it. My incredibly strong pain meds have stopped working but by the third class I got pain relief for hours on end. I have not been without at least an 8 level of pain (scale 1 to10) for at least 2 years. Fun, fun, fun, until Daddy takes the AK -47 awaaaaay!

    TRY IT. It’s good for all ages, peace of mind, and helps you cope with the United States of Insanity.
    I so hope those of you in pain will try it. I wish I has known about this years ago!

    Peace, love, and margs to all the blamers. We miss you Jill. No pressure.

  398. stacey

    My hubz just hipped me to the current mainstream media fem-fight on that Conflict: Modern Motherhood Undermines Feminism book; he wanted to know “what all the radfems are saying on the places I hang out.” I didn’t actually know about it, because I limit my exposure to mainstream media; but just hearing the title made it obvious to me that it was just throwing another log on the fire… here’s something else for you women to argue about and distract you from other serious issues.

    (half an hour later)

    I went on a little internet journey that inexplicably included a side-trip to short and curly hairstyles and a dip into the “twincest” gay porn debate, and now I’m back. Conflict was first published in 2010 in french, and her 2003 book “Dead end Feminism” was translated in 2006. What’s she’s saying is essentially the same as what’s been said here – the societal pressures of patriarchy are placing serious limits on how women proceed as mothers, with an emphasis on the attachment parenting model being most harmful (i.e. it “ties” the mother to the child in ways that make it difficult for her to return to work, separate from the home, etc). IT’S SO FUCKING TRUE. I don’t know what her final conclusions are, although she seems to make no-one happy; my conclusions would be that we need a major societal shift that gives mothers autonomy and the choice to parent (or not) however they like, without economic punishments or social expectations.

    And, I’d like some unicorns too.

    How conveeeenient that this translation comes out during the Republican war on women. I hate the P.

  399. Margaret

    Always stuck in moderation so my wonderful words are never read but here goes anyway. Considering the burden of motherhood under patriarchy, it seems logical that many mothers would consider making the heartrending decision to leave their children without their care, perhaps with the fathers or adoptive families. Unfortunately, many know all too well that the very survival of their children depends on their continued presence. In asking the question, “Do I want to be a single mother?”, there is the fact to remember that mothers are overwhelmingly doing the “single” mother role even with a male partner because so much of the childcare falls on the mother to do. No matter what Nigel promised beforehand.

  400. Katherine

    I know things have moved on, but I wanted to clarify about the attachment parenting model. I myself have followed that particular path, and I don’t believe it be harmful at all. What I believe is harmful is the patriarchy’s social structures that make attachment parenting so damn hard, and the capitalist economic model (difficult to separate that from patriarchy, to my mind) for assigning value only to particular kinds of paid work.

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