Sunday, April 15, 2007

Wherein the Blogger Notices a Theme

As it happens, I have gotten into several -- intermittently heated -- discussions with a peer this week over what he calls the "slow food," and "home spun," movements, and I call the "cult of domesticity."* Now, when I say "intermittently heated" I mean that I got pissed a few times. We were doing that thing where we say the same things 53 times, in slightly different ways each time, and we each only say one thing. And then we gave up and pretended it was because we had reached consensus, when no such thing had occurred.

Conversations that go that way are maddening in the extreme, but ever so easy to pare down for blogular purposes.

He said: These are interesting ways to reintroduce art to life and break with the cycle of consumption/corporate ickiness.
She said: Why is it only traditionally Mama activities that have to suddenly be a giant, labor-intensive pain in the ass? Maybe we have to consider fixing families first, or, failing that, that there are other ways to fight the corporations.
He said: This isn't a right-wing movement, so it can't be anti-woman. I feel like you're leaving us with more consumption, and not wanting to fight the corporations.
She said: Maybe we have to fight the corporations in a different way, one that takes into account that men don't statistically pull their weight at home now, when everything is microwaveable. Maybe we should start the fight at the 60-80 hour workweek. And left-wing can still be anti-woman, or just "What women?"

And that's where we got stuck. Because he kept telling me that it wasn't a right-wing thing, and I kept telling him that it could still be anti-woman by accident or even design and be a left-wing thing. That there was nothing inherently pro-woman about left-leaning politics. In fact, evidence has tended to support the theory that left-wing men are fairly frequently completely bloody worthless where fighting for women's rights is concerned.

In a weird performance of the exact issue I was telling him about, he kept centering on "the important business" of fighting corporations. And in order to do that, he was neglecting to see how this fight, fought in this way, might -- almost certainly WOULD -- negatively affect women individually and as a group and actually end up giving the social right-wing what it wants even as it takes something from the business right-wing. But the something that would be given to the social right-wing would come exclusively out of the hides of the womenfolk, so that's not 'important.' The answer was always: it isn't right-wing.

And then I released the Kraken at a committee meeting because the men there were shouting women members down so they could have their three-way pissing contest -- ostensibly about an issue that affected women almost exclusively.

And then I turn to the blogosphere for respite. Because I'm silly.

And I got to see the whole "Markos is still a jackass w/r/t women, film at 11" thing at Pandagon. And, sure enough, there was Markos, being a jackass right out in public. And, of course, his fellow left-wing men and women joined in a lovely misogyny cluster in comments, and they got very upset when the feminist blogosphere noticed. 'Cause, how dare mere, one-issue bloggers disagree with an A-list blogger?! They should obey in silence, especially since they're all cootified girls and stuff. (Hey, Critical Thinkers! C'mere a sec. If women could trust left wing men not to do what Markos JUST DID IN PRINT RIGHT THERE AT HIS SITE, YOU DOLTS, perhaps more women would be willing to be team players. Because when the only person who ever has to take one for the team is you, and it happens all the time, you start to think, "maybe this isn't the team for me.") Because, God knows the democratic party doesn't need women's votes to win elections.

Then, I went to Feministe, where Jill was very nicely asking fellow members of the left not to join on the "bash the Duke accuser" bandwagon. And, she said this:

Even if you believe that the attacks on this individual woman are warranted, consider the effects that they will have on rape survivors. Consider what rape survivors feel every time they hear her called a liar. Consider what women will internalize about rape from this incident. Consider how that will effect them in the future — how it will effect their own reporting, or their belief that their friend, their daughter, their mother is telling the truth.

And, after I re-read just in case Jill had put some snark somewhere that I missed, the theme was clear. These guys, left and right alike, ARE considering what their words and actions in these cases do to women. Especially the silencing effect they have on women who've been assaulted or even just threatened in a plausible way. That's why they do those things. Now, not all of them think very baldly, "This'll shut those bitches up." They may rationalize it differently. But, that's the effect they're looking for and getting; Silence the women.

When I saw the face of the Fox anchor who put the name and photo of the accuser up onscreen with the phrase "the Duke Liar" under it, I swear I could hear the underlying "Now I'm gonna hafta show you what we do with trouble-making bitches around here." It was absolutely vengeance and hatred filled, and it was absolutely meant to be a public show for women who need to learn their places and lessons well. Just like the DJ who released the name of the Kobe Bryant accuser, and the bastards who released the name of the OC accuser -- this was motivated by hatred of women. And its design is to shut women up.

And then, back at Pandagon, Chris Clarke got all Chris Clarkey and suddenly some of the left wing men got it. But there were still those on the loooooong thread there and at dKos who came in to say "We don't think it's fair that not everything is about what we want to talk about. And American women are stupid. Especially when they don't speak Japanese. And where do you get off using bad words and telling us to shut up when we're men, and we have important thoughts. We can't possibly learn anything from women, that'd be dumb. Maybe they should shut up." And the circle is complete.

And now I shall return to reading the Play of Noah, because there are fewer troublesome depictions of women in medieval literature than there are in life and on the internet today.

*As I often do, I will be subjecting the reader to a personal short story/anecdote before meandering over to my somewhat-related point. I'd advise you to send all complaints regarding this format to my Freshman Comp. professor, but that wouldn't really be fair; she made a valiant effort to get me to stop that years ago. Me, I encourage the attachment of short stories to almost any written work, as long as the story doesn't 1) make it weird for me to look at my student, or 2) require me to call some sort of mental health and/or law enforcement professionals to my class.

Hey, I just totally subjected you to a Bonus Anecdote via footnote!


Anniina said...

Cheers on the "BAvF"!

The releasing of information about victims of violence is alarming - the person already has her share of fears and worries and healing ahead of her, let's heap the additional fears of psychos crawling out of the woodwork to heap additional abuse, verbal and physical, on her to boot. I'm feeling weltschmerz again.

Bardiac said...

I sympathize with your frustration. Even men who want to do well don't want to do well by giving up male privilege. They want other people to give up privilege, generally. Or they think that everyone can be wealthy if we all share resources equally.

I hadn't thought about how much the ways US culture talks about "slow food" and other ecological issues has to do with gendered work. I'd be interested to read more, if you'd care to discuss it some more. (I'm not unconvinced, just hadn't put two and two together.)

Bardiac said...

By the way, I tagged you with a five reasons why you blogged meme. I hope you don't mind, but I'm interested in reading what you have to say!

Anonymous said...

I agree completely. The patriarchy has been very effectively silencing women for millenia and the implicit threat of rape has been one of the most overused weapons. Fear, terrorism, whatever you want to call it, they are so accustomed to masculine domination that any theories of equality go out the window in the reality of sexual power mongering.