Feb 19 2014

Rape culture: marriage’s evil(er) twin

The other day I posted a YouTube link to a short film wherein a hapless dude gets a beatdown in a “matriarchal” society. It was a sort of regenderization of a sexual assault set in a bizarro-world where women are the aggressors. I interpreted the tone of the director as something like, “OK, dudes, now do you see how it feels to live in a rape culture?”

Blamer Serial Cereal commented:

Can’t y the x, Twist. Can’t penguin a giraffe. Bad math. Otherwise, nice. Makes me want to throw together a crack team handycam indie short.

Along with an admirable disregard for the convention of subjects in sentences, Serial Cereal raises an excellent point that I failed to articulate in my original post. You can’t simply reverse the roles, or “Y the X”, because there is not a one-to-one, apples-to-apples correspondence between the actors in the primary dudes-vs-dudessess reference scenario. Dudesses and dudes are, in our culture, more like apples and roundworms.

Today’s thesis, brought to you by Captain Obvious, is this: rape culture, not unlike marriage culture, is a pretty heavily gendered culture.

I know, a-doi, right? Well, I was skimming through this scholarly article, Gender and the Culture of Heterosexual Marriage by Karyn Loscocco and Susan Walzer, when my lobe farted out the idea that the dynamic the authors describe, that of detrimental imbalances that obtain in het marriage as a result of internalized gender differentiation, is precisely the same dynamic that produces rape culture.

I am aware that this lobe fart appears to more or less equate marriage and rapiage. Without getting into a whole big thang with you happily married ladies, I’ll just say this for now: of course they’re not the same, but marriage and rape culture are both points on the same continuum of patriarchal oppression. As cultural institutions go, they are of equally ginormous prominence, with marriage as the conspicuously “official” narrative of blessed motherhood and human harmony, and rape culture the furtive, prurient, underground counter-narrative of violent peen-power. They’re equally reinforced by the same patriarchal mores that disproportionately privilege dudes and damage women, having evolved out of the same primordial gender-predicated social soup. They’re two sides of the same coin, where the coin is a wooden nickel.

Here’s a pithy little paragraph from the article:

Societies go to great lengths to create gender distinctions that yield inequality, and then use the differences they have created to explain the inequality (Lorber, 1995). Major articulations of gender construction theory emphasize the pivotal role that defining women and men as opposites plays in the reproduction of women as ‘‘less than’’ men (Connell, 1995; Risman, 1998, 2004; West & Zimmerman, 1987).[p.3]

This contingency not only forms the substrate for marital discord, it’s the whole Global Accords Governing Fair Use of Women in a douche bag, i.e., the key concept what permits rapers to glorify, celebrate, and commit rape.

Gender — by which I mean the construct of gender difference (and the concomitant oppression to which it inexorably leads) — is so deeply embedded, so heavily reinforced, and so seamlessly integrated in every aspect of human social structure — from the personal to the interpersonal to the institutional* — that it essentially operates invisibly, and congratulations if you made it through this sentence alive.

What this means is that, nice effort though the film is, you probably noticed there’s something about it that just doesn’t compute. Our gendered brains cannot suspend their disbelief. As viewers, we can’t help but approach the film as members of, and indeed participants (albeit unwilling ones) in, the Patriarchal Matrix: a gender-differentiated, misogynist culture. As in, our only reference point is a culture that is based on grossly exaggerated and artificial gender norms, which norms are internalized to the extent that they not only feel normal, but inevitable.

Thus, even though we grasp the director’s intent, the film’s shirtless female jogger reads, not as “free-wheelin’ member of the master class,” but as “tople$$” or perhaps “degraded”; we can’t buy that she’s not stimulating every dude’s ogle gland. The dude character seems extra pathetic because the mean women around him have so unjustly usurped his position as oppressor. You really can’t Y the X. The concepts don’t translate between the genders.

That’s why regenderization isn’t, to my mind, as useful a persuade-the-oppressor tool as it is an illuminate-the-oppressed tool. As I’ve maintained all along, feminism isn’t so much about using clever arguments to persuade recalcitrant dudes to view women as human. It’s about fomenting a revolution that liberates us from male oppression, screw those dudes’ fucking irrelevant opinions concerning our humanity.

As for marriage culture, I leave you with another pithy quotation from the article:

‘Every woman I know is mad at her husband, just mad mad mad at everything. Every time I bring it up to a woman like me she just goes bananas’ [p.4]

* I cribbed this point from Loscocco and Walzer.


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    It’s true you can’t X the Y, but I still think there is hope for gender switching. While it is true that women are ridiculously unlikely to oppress men in the same WAYS that men oppress women, Institutional oppression by women against men would work just fine!

  2. quixote

    I’ve tried to imagine that situation, where women have the social power and men are overlooked, underpaid, and disrespected. I didn’t switch X and Y so much as try to imagine how an overclass of women would really work. When I floated the story past a writers’ group, all the guys could say was that the male character was a wuss and no man would ever stand for it. When I pointed out that rich people are not stronger than bricklayers, but bricklayers are exploited by them, the guys still couldn’t see it. They could see that a class society wasn’t something you could just step out of. But female domination? Impossible.

    I don’t know how you even start illuminating-the-oppressor since everything they know isn’t so. First you’d need a complete re-education, which would take about twenty years so there’s no way to do it over dinner. Or even in one book. Twisty’s right. Illuminating the oppressed is the thing to work on.

  3. speedbudget

    “Major articulations of gender construction theory emphasize the pivotal role that defining women and men as opposites plays in the reproduction of women as ‘‘less than’’ men.”

    A case in point of this point is the garbage “Hail to the V” ad in your previous post. Contact with “lady stuff” is so disgusting and cootiefying that he must, MUST get that shit off, no matter how ridiculous and painful that might be.

    And that’s just contact with SOAP. Imagine if he actually touched the vulva.

  4. emilybites

    I had a similar experience, quixote: a friend I was talking to (a woman) said she thought the guy was too ‘pathetic’ and his character was unrealistic. Actually, he yelled at the gang of women who attacked him…usually I just keep my head down and keep walking if there’s a whole group of dudes harassing me!

    It’s just not possible to observe the normal, obsequious, deferential, submissive, downward-looking behaviour of the lone woman on a street full of men being performed by a man, without thinking ‘He looks like a wuss.’ It feels inaccurate and exaggerated.

    I thought the film was pretty good, but I’ve heard a lot of comments to the effect that it’s unrealistic.

    Also, given that marriage used to be (in the UK) and is (in a helluva lot of places) your legally-sanctioned licence to rape, I still think it’s creepy.

  5. banhorn

    You know, I’ve made the argument myself that marriage has changed because women no longer HAVE to marry to survive. Both genders can choose to marry who they want for reasons that may have nothing to do with ownership..etc. The roles within a marriage are no longer as strictly defined as they used to be. The argument was made in response to some dude claiming that men would never marry of their own free will, they’re always tricked or baited into it by some leech of a woman. I suppose I should have just stuck to the history of marriage and women as chattel to be bartered and traded.

    Anyhow, I’ve never really thought about how deeply gender roles are ingrained in each of us, so even if you view marriage in a positive light – meaning that your intentions are not to own someone, but to partner with someone – inevitably the role of the woman and the role of the man in a marriage will rear it’s ugly head. Domestic servitude is natural to women according to everything you’ve ever seen or heard- “Honey, you’re better at cooking!” “Honey, you’re better at cleaning.” “If I go to the grocery store, you need to write me a list.” And so, you eventually get forced into that role, no matter how equal a partnership you planned on having going into your marriage.

    It is a constant effort to get the other half to see how much is involved in running a household… feeding pets, feeding the kid, feeding him. There’s bills to be paid, facilitate school enrollment and daycare for the kid. Groceries, laundry, cleaning, driving the kid here or there, doctor/dentist appointments to schedule and attend, quality/homework time with the kid and somewhere in that mess maybe a moment to yourself. That’s the beauty of it all for men in marriage, all of that just gets done by magic fairies. Oh and you work full time too, so there’s two incomes.

    Yes, we’re all mad at our husbands for being completely unwilling to handle any of those tasks to alleviate your burden. Why should they?

    This post wasn’t intended to be a personal complaint session. That’s what it turned into, sorry .

  6. Linden

    Banhorn FTW. I don’t miss being married. Miss the occasional companionship and sex, yes, but the rest of the baggage, no. I doubt I’ll be trying it again in this lifetime.

  7. Lidon

    @ emilybites: In the video, he didn’t just yell at that gang of women, he called them misogynistic slurs if I remember correctly and so with that scene, the roles weren’t so reversed either since that’s what men do on a regular basis anyway.

  8. Ashley

    I’m agree, Twisty- it seemed like the “unrealistic” ness of the video served to point out how brainwashed we are- as others have stated too. I noticed myself noticing the things as well that everyone mentions- and then thought “wow, I’m so brainwashed into patriarchy as well, because this seems so impossible and fake to me.” I also thought it was porny when the woman ran past with no clothes, but I couldn’t figure out if it was because she was a young/considered attractive woman, or because I’m so used to only seeing women’s naked bodies if it’s in the context of visual sexual exploitation. Basically, weird experience. It just seems like our world is so fundamentally constructed on male dominance that even that complete social reversal WASN’T ENOUGH to change the perspective of the viewer. Which is really scary.

    And yeah- a woman would never yell back at a group of dudes. I did that once and it was scary. Never again.

  9. Ashley

    durr. *”I agree.”

  10. Owly

    I am essentially being forced to get married by the United States government. My partner is from Ireland, so for us to stay together at all, which we want to do, we have to get married or we won’t be allowed to live in the same country. It’s bullshit. I “proposed” to him because it was awkward, unspoken common knowledge that we would have to get married or we may as well break up because doing long distance indefinitely is not an option (we’ve had a long distance relationship for about half of the years we’ve spent together, seeing each other three or four times a year).

    I’m planning to have a short informal ceremony followed by what will hopefully be a badass party, because who likes wedding ceremonies anyway? Your guests are there for food, booze, and dancing, not to see you spew out sappy cliches. Anyway, it’s amazing how many bizarrely old-fashioned, heteronormative, trite, and painfully boring ideas come out of the woodwork when folks find out you’re getting married. People who have known me my whole life, who know my politics, who know WHY I’m getting married (in short, people who should know better) are shocked when they find out that I’m not taking his name, that my father isn’t giving me away, that we’re not getting married in a church.

    The only reason I’m even slightly ok with this is because I know my partner is a trustworthy, fundamentally decent human being. I will probably never find another man who is as willing to shed more of his patriarchal ideas and practices than this guy, and he’s an absolute wonder around the house to boot.

    Despite all of my reasons for doing it, I still feel like a sell-out for getting married in the first place. I believe that my marriage will not be typical, but I still feel like part of the problem. I feel like I’m letting myself down most of all, and I’m embarrassed. My former 15 year old self would be ashamed. If all goes to plan, soon I’ll be someone’s wife.

    “Wife.” I don’t like the sound of that.

  11. Pandechion

    And let’s not forget that old chestnut, “You have impossibly high standards when it comes to keeping house and it’d be unfair to hold me to them.”

  12. Owly

    My favorite is “Well, if you had told me what to do around the house earlier, I would have done it.”

    I’m sorry, I have to TELL you to do the dishes, throw trash in the trash can instead of on the floor (this guy lived in his own filth) , and clean up spills?

    The answer, apparently, was yes.

  13. Twisty

    I don’t know how people do it. Dudes who won’t pick up after themselves are like petulant children. It should totally be a dealbreaker but it hardly ever is. See “internalized femininity,” and the quoted material from the post:

    Societies go to great lengths to create gender distinctions that yield inequality, and then use the differences they have created to explain the inequality.

    What a world.

  14. tinfoil hattie

    Been with the same dude for nearly 29 years. He’s a good, decent human being. Never pays much mind to what I’m doing, which I like. He cleans up. He works hard. He is moral and not rapey. He likes me. I like him. He’s an amazing father. He’s funny as hell & he likes my sense of humor.

    And if he dies or dumps me, I am NEVER having another relationship with a man.

  15. Nolabelfits

    Owly, I got married under the same circumstances as you-mainly for citizenship and planning a non traditional arrangement. But I experienced exactly what you are experiencing, which is that everyone around us began treating us as if we had a traditional arrangement and the culture at large treated us as if we had a traditional arrangement. Letters addressed to Mr. and Mrs. Hislastname began to show up, things like that. Before you know it, you are immersed in a traditional marriage because part of how we navigate life is in how people treat us. And you will begin to be treated as one Blamer once put it, as “the junior partner” in the relationship.

    As far as marriage and rape culture being two sides of the same coin, I’m afraid its a toss of that coin for me as far as which one is the evil(er) twin. Rape culture is like the Wingman who keeps all women busy so the real Douchebag, marriage, can move in for the score. Once you are married, not only do you have rape culture and male privilege to deal with in your daily life as usual but you can’t even go home and shut the door on that sh*t. Its in your HOUSE!!

  16. Lexia

    “That’s why regenderization isn’t, to my mind, as useful a persuade-the-oppressor tool as it is an illuminate-the-oppressed tool.”

    Got it in one, Twisty. What’s that cliche about not seeing something if your well being depends on not seeing it? Can’t Ixquick it at the moment, but it was all over the Internet a couple of years ago. Men are simply not going to get this movie.

    I thought the short film was great as is stood. It made its point, even or especially if there aren’t equivalents to terms like “bitch” a woman can throw at men.

    It would be great if women put listening to their own reactions and acting on them ahead of trying to persuade men to be just and honorable. What a revolution that would be! Of course I understand why we don’t, being part of a larger society and all, but still.

  17. Twisty

    Tinfoil, you appear to be a freak of nature. I congratulate you.

  18. Niki

    When I saw that little film, all I thought was ‘dudes are jacking off to this’.

    I mean, come on…did it really need shirtless women…JOGGING???… to drive the point home?

    It seemed like just another paltry bit of smut to titillate under the guise of being all feminist n shit.


  19. jules

    Owly and Nolan – me three! And the worst of it was that for me it was all done in a rush, so when the “ew ew creepy so eine called me ‘wife’ and I feel all brain-slimed” feelings hit, the deed was done and my feminist-but-male partner just did not get why I was squirming and got offended and I couldn’t talk about it.
    Many years later and we’ve explicitly established that “queer married” is the only kind of married we want want to be. But it was and has been hard … and I still don’t use the H and W words except to the occasional government official or passport officer.

  20. iorarua

    tinfoil hattie

    Your marriage sounds a lot like mine was, as does your husband. Wonderful man. Wonderful father. Good friend.

    What I came to realize at about the 25 year point is that a happy marriage is a poisoned chalice. When you’re married to a lovely man, his loveliness camouflages all the patriarchal privileges he is enjoying at your expense.

    Without going into the boring details, I’m now single, live alone … and love it. I’m infinitely happier now than I ever was in my happy marriage.

  21. Mooska

    I agree with pretty much everything you say about marriage, Twisty, although I would also note that our relationship was pretty similar even before we got married (as a financial and administrative convenience, at a registry office, with two strangers as witnesses. We still haven’t got round to the party yet).

    While marriage is the formal, institutionalised version of the nightmare, the things that make it a pain in the arse are ingrained into us from small. My Nigel is comparatively right up there when it comes to doing his share of stuff, but what I constantly notice even after eight years and two children is how little guilt/obligation he feels. He almost never feels like he *ought* to be doing stuff; the kids go to sleep and that’s it for him: relaxation time! Whereas I just feel – although I constantly fight it – like I should be doing X, Y and Z, and that I’m a bad mother/person for not doing so. Obviously beer, laptop and a large sofa help with this, but still.

    Twisty, is there anywhere we can access the article you linked to? I don’t mind paying but I don’t want to join a subscription service. Thanks.

  22. Keri

    Marriage and rape culture: One only needs to look at the flourishing modern obsession with wedding dresses and bigger and bigger ceremonies to see it is alive and well. And there are about 900 television shows glorifying the practice. Thanks television dudes!

    In the morning here at my dude free 70’s tract home of peace, I love drinking coffee and looking at Pinterest. That is except for the insane obsession with weddings and, therefore, all the creepiness that comes with the right of passage of being GIVEN to a dude. Mind you, Pinterest is also a great place to keep track of funny somee cards, packing tips for Europe, and shit I want to do to my house. But I digress.

    Weddings are still very much about that special day when a dude gets himself a patriarchal cupcake in the form of a lady in a white dress whom he will soon soil and make his own. It seems that in 2014, that day still has to be a very very special day because even though most brides are unlikely the virgins of yore, something extremely important will be taken from them and they will never be the same.

    Props to those of you who are happy but I will be hiding from it for the rest of my life. Even the gay kind. The whole institution is just too creepy. IBTP.

  23. Rae

    “…even though most brides are unlikely the virgins of yore, something extremely important will be taken from them and they will never be the same. ”

    Chilling — and very well said.

  24. Elizabeth

    “how little guilt/obligation he feels. He almost never feels like he *ought* to be doing stuff…”
    “…Whereas I just feel – although I constantly fight it – like I should be doing X, Y and Z”

    I work in a long term residential care facility. The above behavior carries over into the dementia-ridden residents. It’s only the women I see walking up and down the halls with anxiety, knowing they are supposed to be somewhere, doing something for somebody.


  25. Mildred

    “Anyway, it’s amazing how many bizarrely old-fashioned, heteronormative, trite, and painfully boring ideas come out of the woodwork when folks find out you’re getting married. ”

    This exactly happened to me.
    For some reason everyone, even people who knew me and my politics thought I was going to suddenly move to the suburbs and have babies. The wedding resembled nothing of the registry office affair I had planned once my mum caught wind and didn’t want to be ’embarrassed’. I just closed my eyes and let myself be steamrolled but mother of the bride-zilla. 150 people showed up, I wore a poofy white dress and everyone said I looked like a princess. TBH in the end it was fun, I’ll never be 25 years old again, I’ll never wear a dress like that ever again (without being a crazy person) – one day of pageantry and ostentatious drag.

  26. tinfoil hattie

    All of us who have any wedding-type dresses, bridesmaids dresses, prom dresses – let’s all take them to Savage Death Island and ruin them by jumping into the pool with them on. When they dry out, we’ll burn them a la Wicker Man.

    As for Nigel – I could not have survived the past three years of abusive, sick treatment by the family I grew up with had I not had Nigel by my side. I owe him my life, and my kids’ sanity and well-being. He’s a great friend, and we love one another very much.

    And marriage is a stupid, stifling institution. Wish I knew then what I know now.

  27. Lab Rat

    I really wanted to have something insightful to say about marriage versus monogamy/primate pair bond, but none of it came out very articulate.

    Instead I recommend Blamers read the work of anthropologist Sarah Blaffer Hrdy. She discusses in great detail the many ways how creating and maintaining pair bonds in primates (humans included) is really about survival.

    Like Owly, Nolan and jules pointed out, sometimes it’s just a practical necessity. I’m on marriage number three, and the only reason I went for a third tour of duty was pretty much all for financial reasons. I’ll tell you what, if I had the money, the Nigel and I would probably just be shacked up or just live nearby one another.

    @Keri – weddings, ugh. The only thing worse is bridal showers and bachelorette parties (talk about can’t y the x!).

  28. shopstewardess

    Elizabeth said “I work in a long term residential care facility. The above behavior carries over into the dementia-ridden residents. It’s only the women I see walking up and down the halls with anxiety, knowing they are supposed to be somewhere, doing something for somebody.”

    This is the sad, invidious reality of the P. We are brainwashed from birth to internalise it. Many of us become ill as a result, or abuse ourselves, or are surrounded by others who abuse us. And even if we survive that and live to old age, apparently we are still so indoctrinated that the P survives while the rest of our personality is being wiped away.

    Recognising the P is hard. Acknowledging the P’s myriad detrimental effects on us is hard. Life knowing about and acknowledging the P is bearable only because living in ignorance and denial is worse.

    If I get dementia, I’m pretty hopeful that anxiety for others won’t be the last thing left. And Elizabeth has given me good reason to carry on as I have been, and refusing either to call myself selfish for it or let anyone else call me selfish for it.

  29. Twisty

    @ Mooska “Twisty, is there anywhere we can access the article you linked to? I don’t mind paying but I don’t want to join a subscription service. Thanks.”

    By gum, suddenly you have to pay to read it! I can’t explain how or why, but when I came across it in some bibliography somewhere, it was just there, flapping in the breeze for all to see. Not sure how ethical this is, but I have the PDF, and if you like I can email it to you. Let me know.

  30. sparrowgrass

    You can access the full article here:

    Very enlightening it was too. Thanks, Twisty.

  31. speedbudget

    I have the extreme luxury of having a house on the coast, while I live here married in the Mid West. Sometimes it occurs to me that I would like to go back to how it was in the beginning, with me living happily alone and coming out here for two-week visits every so often. Maybe, if the money keeps being shit here in the conservative wasteland, I can justify this. I really think the best thing for a marriage is lots of breathing room.

    I am lucky to have this privilege. I know. And I, too, have a very supportive, loving Nigel who cleans and takes care of kids, etc. I can’t imagine how I would feel otherwise.

  32. Mooska

    Thanks very much, Sparrowgrass! I shall read it as a treat this evening, along with a glass of port. And thanks ever so for the offer, Twisty; I was quite excited about it.

    In return, I offer you this thing which I may well have posted before; apologies if so. It perfectly encapsulates the guilt imbalance I referred to above, and is not only Fort Amusant but will take up less than a minute of your busy blaming time! Also involves an English accent – just sayin’, Twisty.


  33. Mooska

    “I work in a long term residential care facility. The above behavior carries over into the dementia-ridden residents. It’s only the women I see walking up and down the halls with anxiety, knowing they are supposed to be somewhere, doing something for somebody.”

    Oh, I missed this earlier. Reminds me of the sky-high rates of self-harming in UK (and, I bet, US) women’s prisons, about which the government naturally gives precisely zero shits. When I think about how the women must feel about the children they leave behind as they serve their pointless short sentences for mostly non-violent offences, it wrings my heart. Im’ glad to think you’re probably kind to the women you work with, Elizabeth – at least someone is.

  34. pandechion

    My ex-husband and I were together for eighteen years, nine before we were married and nine after we were married. We’ve been separated for two years now. The divorce was finalized last summer.

    The first nine years felt like an audition. I wanted to be married, I wanted to be a mother. The transition into the marriage was joyful for everyone who knew us. I married well. I was a question that had been answered.

    I worked in an office, my husband was self-employed. I could tell he worked fewer hours than I did, but he was famous in his field and he made more money than I did. I did most of the housework, and tried to insulate myself from resentment by insisting on my own apartment. The house in the country was his, though I tended to cook and clean when I was there as well. I maintained relationships with my family, although he disliked them, and his family, whom I liked very much.

    When my daughter was born five years ago, and I became unavoidably responsible for her well-being, it became immediately, shockingly, clear that there was no reason I should be taking care of him. By this time we had also negotiated an open marriage, and there were certain freedoms associated with that agreement that didn’t mix well with parenthood.

    By the time she was eighteen months old I knew I didn’t want to be married any more. That I didn’t need to be married any more. He was relieved when I asked for a divorce, and was vengeful during the divorce process.

    Here’s a funny thing about child support. Even if custody is shared 50/50, it is still expected that the father will pay child support to the mother. Even his own lawyer advised him not to argue the point. It’s the only place I know of where the unpaid domestic labor that women traditionally do is recognized in the eyes of the law.

    I have lost status, income, and the affection of my in-laws, whom I miss desperately. But I have gained much more than I lost. So much of my energy was once contained in his person. I am now able to support and take care of my community in ways that were impossible with him in my life. I am more useful to the world at large as an unmarried woman.

    I can spot other unmarried mothers on the street. We look happy and free.

    I see my 72-year-old mother wearing stiletto heels to please my father. I hear her wondering why retirement isn’t any easier for her. I hear her becoming more bitter every day and I find myself wishing that he would die quickly and painlessly, so she might have some peace.

  35. N

    “So much of my energy was once contained in his person. I am now able to support and take care of my community in ways that were impossible with him in my life. I am more useful to the world at large as an unmarried woman.”

    This is the absolute core of it for me, after my (relatively recent) divorce which ended a marriage of 4 years. So much more energy and attention for the world (and for my own life, thankyouverymuch!) now that I don’t have to spend all of it compromising and keeping ‘the relationship’ alive…

  36. Ellesar

    I guess for me the reason why rape culture and marriage are very close on that continuum is because rape within marriage is a very common form of domestic violence, and like other types of domestic violence is hidden, ignored and minimised.

    In the UK rape in marriage has been a crime for over 20 years, but to my knowledge there have been NO convictions (I have looked), and I have read that unless the couple are separated and living apart there is absolutely no point in a woman trying to bring a rape charge against her husband, so basically nothing has changed, as general culture is now actually MORE hostile to feminism than it was 20 years ago!

  37. Serial Cereal

    Whoops. Two mistakes here:

    1. My quote, (“Can’t y the x, Twist. . . .”) was a responses to the post, “The Arm (also, the art of selective disregard as a means of intellectual survival in a hostile society)” (Jan. 27) not the video contained in the post, “French feminist regenderization film de la semaine.”

    2. My comment had nothing to do with gender. I was talking about the nature of “sex chromosomes” (the x being able to recombine and the y not being able to recombine; therefore, being “different animals”). One animal creates and one destroys, apparently. Oh dudes could choose to act right anyway, alright, but they don’t wanna examine this because they’ve tricked us into giving them a wide birth to indulge their testosterone poisoning through imposing femininity on us.

    So that would make either female *or* male a sex, but not both. And since gender/sex roles are derived from sex, either femininity *or* masculinity is a gender, but not both! They are not opposites nor are they complementary at all.

  38. KatherineK

    As a recently separated woman who started out in one of those theoretically equitable modern style marriages and saw that fall apart as I had a kid and got depression, I really needed to read these comments. Thank you all.

  39. mearl

    I’m turning 36 this year, and I’ve never even come CLOSE to getting married or having kids. I’m too busy trying to patch up my life after having grown up with a hideously abusive and screwed-up father who turned both me and my older sister completely off of all those quaint, feminine notions such as marriage or shared bank accounts or cleaning up after a man and all the kids while the man makes more money and drives around on his motorcycle having fun and being a total and utter munchwad to everyone around him. I credit my screwed-up dad with having fuelled my rampant feminism from age 15 onward.

    Sadly, having always been surrounded by friends with decent Nigels, I have always longed for a good relationship, for companionship and that sort of thing. I’ve been living on my own since the age of 21. I’ve had oodles of time to pursue my creative interests and be involved in my community; I volunteer, I work in “caring” professions, I have more than enough time to sleep late and read books and guzzle margaritas with my friends (or by myself in the bathtub) because I’ve never been with any guy for more than 18 months. However, I am LONELY, and I want to have children. Sharing my life and memories with my good female pals was a pipe dream that failed when all my good female pals (AND my male pals) paired off and left me in the dust. The married ones hang out with other married people, and the couples with kids hang out with other couples who have kids. I don’t have loads of money to take trips or skydiving lessons or bike trips through Ireland with groups of freewheeling single people. I get sick of having no one to talk to about my day, or to share the big ups and downs with. I think it’s easier to be single once you’ve had a taste of marriage, good or bad, and decided that it’s sour. I’m only recently unweaving the tangled web of squelched self-esteem and emotional instability that my absolutely inspired FINK of a dad wove (and continues to weave).

    That being said, to those het males who live in a home with their female partners and try to pull that “Your standards of cleanliness are too high” crap, my retort has always been that my standards of cleanliness are upheld by very strictly outlined governmental health policies on hygiene. I’ve worked, eaten and stayed in restaurants, hotels, and schools. THOSE places all have cleaning fairies who bleach the counters and mop the floors and take out the garbage and wash the sheets and keep the mold off the tiles of the showers and make fricking towel swans. Find me a man who would pay for his hotel room without complaint if his sheets hadn’t been laundered in months. Find me a man who would buy himself a nice big expensive dinner and eat it from dirty plates, using crusty silverware. Find me a man who wouldn’t throw a spectacular hissy fuss if he found out he’d gotten food poisoning or serious health complications from the spinach that was canned in a rat-and-lysteria-infested factory. When guys are PAYING for their accommodations or meals, they demand that every little fucking thing be PERFECT. When the men are part of a household and are expected to pitch in on equal terms, suddenly the Board of Health Standards of Cleanliness and Hygiene are negotiable.

    Fuck THAT shit.

  40. quixote

    Mearl, one thing you obviously have right is that it’s way better to be lonely by yourself than with someone who’s not there. Keep the faith.

    And as for having someone to share things with, that’s always a matter of luck. You can have the highest self-esteem in the world, but if fate doesn’t send a good person your way, you’re better off by yourself. (And you definitely don’t want anyone who repeats themself.)

  41. Randie

    What I really can’t understand is why any woman but especially a radical feminist woman would want anything to do with men at all!

  42. Linda

    Randie, I hear you. While it is impossible to avoid them altogether in the patriarchy, fathers, brothers, sons, neighbours, colleagues etc. I do not understand why radical feminist women seek out associations with men when they do not have to. The ones who aren’t either talking over the top of them; demanding their energy and attention all the time; devaluing their opinions; controlling their movements and access to money; letting them clean their shit off the toilet bowl etc. are killing, beating raping and terrorising them. At the very least they are dull and boring and often very stinky. Seriously, why? They try to dominate everyone and everything around them; my friend’s NIGEL is of the less offensive breed but even he simply cannot visit my home without harassing my two cats and insisting on trying to pick them up, can’t bloody leave them alone, even after I have said no do not bother them, this is their home so let them come to you if they want to. No, even though it’s my home he knows better than I do. I saw two men in the communal pool in my apartment block the other day, taking “care” of their five young children. Their idea of taking care of the kiddies? Pick them up, hold them aloft and throw them into the water, even the ones who are crying and begging for it to stop. You see it everywhere, men throwing children because they do not have the capacity to relate to them any other way. Male company is something to be tolerated, not sought out.

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