The Folks Are in the Midst of Arriving

They are driving through Nashville as I type this, heading out to the campground to set up their trailer. 

Some people might appreciate seeing a couple who’s been married for thirty seven years have their annual “How to set up the trailer” fight, which they’ve been having for thirty one years, ever since they bought a trailer, which was shortly after I was swept out of their tent in a flash flood.

Luckily, I was rescued, unharmed, from some mud near the car.

I know you’re grateful.

Anyway, if any of you out in the Hermitage area like to watch old married couples fight, they’re staying out at Percy Priest Lake and they look just like you’d expect my parents to look.

Ha, you know, it occurs to me that the Cobles would either adore my parents or loathe them.  I’d either find my parents hog-tied and being lectured about how to get along, or I’d show up out there and find the four of them playing cards and swapping church stories.  There would be no middle ground.

I’m excited to see them, but I wish we could just skip the inevitable lecture about how dirty my house is.

My Words, Your Mouth

I meant to write about this last night when I got home, but I got sidetracked.  I sat in on the Faith/Doubt rehearsal last night.

I’m still kind of shook by the ending.

The last fifteen minutes or so of the play, starting with the story about the giant liver, going into the tarot card exchange and the hoodoo woman and ending with the dying grandma, is all stuff that I wrote (and then the Playwright and the Recovering Baptist improved upon).  Those are my words.  Those are all based on things that have happened to me.  Well, of course, except that I have never been a dying grandma.  So, let’s talk about that in a second.

First, I want to say that seeing people telling your stories, stories you regularly tell about yourself, is really weird.  In some ways, watching people take your words and turn them into their own is really disconcerting.  You think, “No, that’s not how I said it or how I experienced it.”  But then, there’s a way in which you see that the way they’ve done it is plausible.

For instance, the tarot card scene is based on an experience I had in grad school, where I read for a guy and I thought the spread was implying that his girlfriend was cheating on him.  I didn’t know him, so I didn’t know if it was true or not, but I didn’t want to tell him that’s what the cards said.  Still, he kind of figured that’s what I was getting at.  I think it confirmed a suspicion he already had.

But when it happened, he was sitting close to me and he was quiet and everything he said was in this kind of hushed “I don’t believe you , but I do” way.

The actor, though, is standing up for most of the scene.  He gets up.  He tries to leave.  He comes back and sits down.  He gets up again. 

It’s not how it happened, but it feels faithful to what happened.

I guess that’s the part that I find strange and cool, how these actors can take something and do it completely different than what happened, but it still feels faithful to my experience.

But the old woman at the end was a much different experience for me.

I wrote her monologue after it became apparent that the monologue we had to close the play wasn’t quite strong enough to really hit people right in the gut.  I didn’t know I was going to write it, though.  We’d left our usual Sunday meeting and we all knew we needed something and left it to the Playwright to come up with it.

And then on Monday morning, I was out walking Mrs. Wigglebottom and out of nowhere, I started humming “Love in Vain” and then, I just heard this phrase, “I have not loved in vain.”  It just popped into my head.  And on the whole walk home, the monologue just came to me, of an old woman who is dying of cancer, and who is facing death in the complete assurance that her soul transcends death.

And so I wrote it all in one big frenzy and handed it off to the Playwright.  She fixed the last little part, but the words I wrote are the words the actor says.

The thing is, with everything else in the play, we went over every single word in there over and over again.  I could practically recite the play to you even now.

But the old woman?  I didn’t have any chance to live with that.

And so, sitting there last night, listening to that monologue, I just started bawling.  It’s really good.  I mean that just from an objective standpoint.  It’s really good.  The actor does a great job with it, but the words are exactly right.

I’m not used to thinking of myself as someone who can, objectively, write really well.  I tend to think that I write a lot, so some of it is bound to be okay, but most of it is just what everyone else does, but more prolific.

This is the first time in my life I’ve every been hit smack in the face by evidence that I’ve done something great.

I kind of don’t know how to process it.

I’m feeling something… I don’t know… maybe it’s called ‘proud.’

What I’ve Been Mulling Over This Morning

The Uncle and I share almost identical views on dogs and on a certain fellow Tennessee blogger.  We’ve both addressed those feelings at our blogs in recent days.  And yet, the Uncle has no recent posts about dogs with 48 comments.

I’ve also been thinking about what’s interesting about those 48 comments.  Twenty three of them are by women.  Nineteen of them are by men.  One of them is from anonymous, whose gender I can’t know, three of them are from FactChecker, whose gender I don’t know, and two of them are from Devil’s Advocate, whose gender I do know, but I don’t think is readily apparent.

In other words, the comments were pretty equally split between men and women.

And yet, our fellow Tennessee blogger specifically addressed six women and yet only specifically addressed one man, once–Exador.  He also made one comment specifically towards anonymous (a gender he couldn’t know) and one towards Devil’s Advocate (a gender he didn’t know).

Jebbo, I hope you appreciate that I threw all those numbers in there just for you, knowing how much you like them.

Y’all may recall from our fun discussion of feminism last week (in which, interestingly enough, some of you tried to claim that there was little, if any, gender bullshit left in the world) that I claimed there are four easily successful ways for a jackass to argue against feminists:

1.  Be sure that the feminists know you don’t take their perspective seriously.

2.  Demand that the conversation go forward on your terms, even though you are not an instigator of said conversation.

3.  Deliberately misunderstand the feminists.

4.  Condescend, condescend, condescend.

What I didn’t explain is why those four things work so successfully.  Allow me to articulate that now.

Those things work because they bank on male privilege.  Dsmith, of course, is not a man, but it’s not that simple.  Male privilege doesn’t work just because men assert it.  It works because women almost unconsciously acquiesce.

We’re trained from an early age to believe that, if there’s some problem between us and anyone else in the world, the problem must lie with us; we must not understand what’s going on.

In other words, there’s some objective, big world reality out there that some folks (men) are just inherently more cued into than other folks (women).  Perhaps this is best seen when it breaks down, when some woman has been playing cutesy dumbass in order to get her hands on some man’s money.  She’s able to cutesy dumbass her way into his money because he believes that he is inherently more cued into the world than she is and it never occurs to him that her cutesy dumbass ways are an act of manipulation.

But the vast majority of us women are not playing the cutesy dumbass role in order to manipulate men into doing what we want.  In fact, most of us aren’t cute enough to be able to play that role.  And most of us resent being told over and over again that we’re dumbasses, good only for whatever doesn’t take too much thought.

We’ve talked a long time about my brand of feminism, which normally isn’t concerned with the shit men do, because I expect you to be grown ups and straighten your own selves out.  Normally, I’m concerned with helping women who don’t want or can’t be cutesy dumbasses imagine some other way of being in the world.

But the thing is that most women, no matter how feminist, no matter how not, really really don’t want to be thought of as a cutesy dumbass.  And that’s why the four rules of how to argue like a jackass against feminists are so grievously underhanded–the person following the four rules both gets to argue his or her points and insinuate that the woman he or she is talking to is just a cutesy dumbass (or failed cutesy dumbass) who doesn’t know how the world works.

(A kind of secondary thing to keep in mind is that hand in hand with the “cutesy” part of the equation is the idea that women’s physical presentation is up for scrutiny.  I mention it even though it’s secondary to my “dumbass” point in this post because is comes into play slightly at the end of that thread and, though it seems like the fellow Tennessee Blogger’s mention that he now knows what I look like seems out of place, I’d argue that it actually is important for him to assert that he now can both judge me on how I measure up to ‘cutesy’ and meet his expectations for ‘dumbass’.)

The reason that the cutesy dumbass paradigm is bound up in male privilege is that, while this is the underlying tension in almost every negative interaction women have with men, I’ve never seen it in an interaction between male equals.

The fellow Tennessee Blogger is a perfect example.  When he addresses the one man he addresses, the facts are up for discussion:

Exador, most of the stories I found in the news from the past two days alone were of pit bulls mauling people. There are probably good stories like you mentioned, but I shared what I found [emphasis mine]

The fellow Tennessee Blogger isn’t challenging Exador’s perception of reality.  In fact, Exador is even extended the likelihood that his point is true; in other words, even though the fellow Tennessee Blogger and Exador disagree, Exador has a valid understanding of reality. 

The Professor, however, according to the fellow Tennessee Blogger, does not.  Watch how he repeatedly invalidates her ability to correctly interpret what he’s saying, and thus invalidates her understanding of reality:

Professor, other than quoting what Aunt B. or other bloggers believe I’ve said about banning pit bulls, can you rise up to your scholarly title and provide a single quote where I have called for a ban on pit bulls? Quoting other bloggers claiming I am calling for a ban doesn’t count, although that seems to be the only fuel for your speculative conclusions.

Why is that?

The Professor and Exador are making very similar points.  Why is he afforded the courtesy of having his interpretation of events respected while she isn’t?  Why are the obvious men in the thread for the most part left alone and the obvious women addressed like we don’t understand how the world works?  Why isn’t the fellow Tennessee Blogger over at the Uncle’s arguing his points?

That’s what I’ve been mulling over this morning.  I think it has something to do with who has a penis and who doesn’t.  But I’m just a girl; I’m sure I don’t understand how the world works.