Well, Here’s the Bad News

In my fantasy world, if you pick up and move an unconscious woman for any other reason but to aid her, you’re kidnapping her. If you pick her up from a crime scene and move her to some place that is not a crime scene in order to give her or the authorities the impression that she was never at the crime scene, you’d be kidnapping her and being an accessory to the crimes being committed against her. In my fantasy world, if you touched a passed out woman for any reason other than to offer HER assistance after you knew she’d been sexually assaulted, there’d be some kind of lesser assault charge you’d be guilty of.

In the real world, apparently it’s perfectly legal to move an unconscious woman around. The misdemeanor crime is in deleting picture or video evidence of her rape.

But just moving her? You still get to be quarterback.

Also, Hal Hardin? “One of the most difficult things that any person can go through is to be the victim of rumors, unfounded rumors, and know that you’re innocent.”? Try being raped by guys you thought were your friends, you jackass. Just shut the fuck up about “difficult.” God damn. What the fuck is wrong with people?

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Democratic Women of Tennessee, It’s Time to Have a Little Talk

Let me say up front that, from what I know of him, I like Rep. Butch Borchert. He’s fighting for jobs in his district and that, really, is where every legislator’s priority should be. If he thinks he knows better than me what I should do with my body, I don’t like it, but I’ll live with it. I don’t think being anti-abortion disqualifies you from being a Democrat or even a Democratic politician.

But when the Democratic party itself starts talking positively about anti-abortion candidates specifically because of their anti-abortion records, as if that’s a selling point?

Then it’s time for us Democratic women to open our eyes and see the world how it is. If this is what the Tennessee Democratic Party sees as praiseworthy, as an argument for voting for someone, then there is no reason for Democratic women to continue to be loyal to the Democratic party. There is no difference. I mean, I suspect that’s the point in the other direction–to try to signal to conservative voters that there is no difference, so they could vote Democratic if they like. But it’s the point we need to hear as well–there is no difference. On a state level, you could vote Republican if you like and feel no tinge of regret.

I, myself, will not be doing that. I will, however, be continuing my refusal to give money to the Democratic party. I will ask you, Democratic women, to consider how much of your free time you give to the Party for work the Party pays men to do. Just consider it. Look around you when you’re at functions. See if you’re giving away something other folks get paid for.

And third, I will no longer give my “free” votes away to Democrats, until the state party gets its act together. In the past, if I knew a little something about the race, I voted for the candidate I thought would be best, regardless of party. This means that, in those races, I was probably voting Democrat 80% of the time. In races where I didn’t know anything or when there were no other candidates (with the exception of Sheriff Hall, who I don’t vote for), I have voted straight Democrat.

I will no longer be doing that. I will either not vote in those races or write in someone I do think would do an acceptable job.

Just one person doing this doesn’t accomplish much, I know.

But I don’t know any other way to show my disdain for the party in equal amounts to how they’ve shown their flip disdain for Democratic women today.

Campbell County GOP, Don’t You Think It’s Time to Find a New Treasurer?

The treasurer of the Campbell County GOP is Mark Wells. He’s also on the Campbell County Board of Education, where, in his spare time, he spends years harassing a teacher and trying to get her fired because she didn’t want to date him.

And this guy is still the treasurer of the Campbell County GOP why?

Who would let their daughters volunteer there, knowing the lengths he’d go to if she rejected his advances? What woman would want to work there? And what message is the Campbell County Republican Party trying to send? That they’ll tolerate having a guy who would do this in their midst?

The EEOC found that he harassed her. Are Republicans just waiting to see how much money she gets out of the school system for looking the other way?

I don’t get it.

But you know, it’s funny. I read this post today over at Feministe, about Lisak’s research into campus rapists, who, as we’ve discussed, operate by camouflaging themselves as guys who’ve just made a mistake or are overzealous, who could be any guy, really, so they deserve our sympathy. I know we talked a little about how they’ve found that these are the same guys that go on to commit all kinds of abuse. In other words, there are a set of behaviors these guys learn and exploit in order to be able to do what they want to do–whether it’s rape or sexual harassment or abuse or what–while relying on others to provide them social cover.

Thomas quotes Lisak in regards to some of these characteristics.

In the course of 20 years of interviewing these undetected rapists, in both research and forensic settings, it has been possible for me to distill some of the common characteristics of the modus operandi of these sex offenders. These undetected rapists:

• are extremely adept at identifying “likely” victims, and testing prospective victims’ boundaries;

• plan and premeditate their attacks, using sophisticated strategies to groom their victims for attack, and to isolate them physically;

• use “instrumental” not gratuitous violence; they exhibit strong impulse

control and use only as much violence as is needed to terrify and coerce their victims into submission;

• use psychological weapons – power, control, manipulation, and threats – backed up by physical force, and almost never resort to weapons such as knives or guns;

use alcohol deliberately to render victims more vulnerable to attack, or completely unconscious.

Now, look at how many of these things fit the newspaper account of Wells’ behavior towards Keiser. He tested her boundaries by repeatedly calling her at home, using the excuse of needing to talk to her about work, at times that were inappropriate. I think this was also a way of isolating her, because when the calls come to your home on weekends, it’s obviously very unlikely that others will be able to witness for themselves the bad behavior. And then, of course, he attempted to use his position of power over her to punish and intimidate her when she didn’t comply with his wishes.

Now, obviously, Wells isn’t a rapist, so his bag of tricks isn’t exactly the same. But I point out the similarities to say this is not some dude who’s just a little over-zealous and clumsy when it comes to women. This is a dude who wanted to force a woman to do something she didn’t want to do and who wanted to be able to punish her when/if she didn’t comply and he used known and studied strategies for doing so.

Guys like this count on you believing that they’re just over-zealous and clumsy. They count on you making excuses for them, believing that this situation is something that could happen to anyone, instead of being a situation he set up and thought (and apparently rightly so) he could control.

Don’t protect him.

This isn’t a “mistake.” This is something he deliberately did wrong, for years.

In Which I Shake My Fist at the Patriarchy

I thought this thought–“If Luke and Patience weren’t married until they got to Michigan, how did Patience get to Michigan?” A young man could, conceivably, take off by himself to live in the wilderness. A young white woman is not going to. She’s going to come with someone.

So, I look through all the Simmonses. None are the right age to have a daughter Patience’s age. But I’m looking at the census record for Cyrenius Simmons and who do I see not two lines above him? Abigail Semmons, says Ancestry.com. But it’s clearly Simmons. And she’s the right age to have kids Patience’s age. And there are two girls living in her household roughly the right age to be Patience.

I even found that Cyrenius had to petition the Michigan state government to give control of Abigail’s land to Abigail so that she could distribute it to her children. And so I reckoned that she was a widow. And what did I find? That her husband, Gamaliel Simmons, died in 1828, probably shortly after they got to Michigan and got their land settled.

I even found them back in New York, in Bristol, on the Phelps (& other dude) settlement. They went to church with a Luther Phillips, but I don’t know if that’s just a coincidence.

After Abigail got her land problems settled, she remarried, this time to Uriah Hungerford.

She HAS to be Patience’s mom. I am just almost so damn sure. But I’d like to see a better record of how her land got split up. If we found Luke and Patience living on part of it, there’d be no question.

I’m just not quite sure how to figure that out. I’ll have to dig some more.

But, Patriarchy, I shake my fist at you because, due to your nonsense, it’s very difficult to follow and figure out female ancestors. It shouldn’t be that hard to draw a line between Abigail and Patience, if there is one to draw, but there’s just a leap a tad too far for me to make.

Also, I haven’t heard back from the Oakland county folks, which annoys me.

On the other hand, talking some smack about these two seems to have shaken a few nuts loose.

Two Things

1. I know some kids who have John Tanner as an uncle in real life and, as far as I can tell, they don’t seem to be rolling in blueberry donuts. Sadly.

2. Yes, we get it, all the damn time, that men get to police women’s bodies and that they get to do so especially harshly if we dare stray into the political arena, but really, the comments on this post are disgusting. Worse yet, these two morons are clearly upset at Kleinheider (“Why do we have to hear about this person we don’t care about?”) and yet they lack the balls to address him directly, so they have to take their ire out on this poor Republican chick.

Could you imagine how this conversation would go if these guys had the courage of their convictions? It’d go one of two ways.

A. “Kleinheider, why are you writing about this person we don’t care about?” Silence from Kleinheider because he doesn’t justify himself to commenters.

B. “Hey, Kleinheider, you fatass, why are you writing about this person we don’t care about?” “Why are you so concerned about the size of Kleinheider’s ass? Are you gay?” And then there’d be 50 comments about who’s in deep secret shameful love with each other.

Is it too much to ask for either of those scenarios?

But no, instead it’s this “I want to disagree with the man with more status, but I don’t have the guts to directly challenge him, so I will use this woman as a scapegoat for my feelings of inadequacy, hoping that I can challenge the man with more status, while reaffirming that I am a part of the group and that she is the challenger who must be warded off,” crap.

Ha, I guess, in the end, that’s kind of funny.

On “Not Rape-Rape”

On Twitter this morning, folks were talking about all the Hollywood folks who have come out in support of Polanski.  Even Whoopi Goldberg trying to claim this wasn’t a “rape-rape.”  Even, allegedly, Sharon Tate’s sister trying to draw some distinction between rape and rape.

Dude drugged and raped a crying thirteen year old girl who begged him not to. Then, when he thought his plea bargain might be reneged on after he couldn’t even be bothered to show remorse, he fled.

None of these facts are in dispute.  This isn’t one of these pseudo-gray areas where she seemed like she wanted it and then she “changed her mind.”  Or she was “seduced” out of her “no” by his persistence.

She was drugged by him (indicating that he knew she wouldn’t be even remotely compliant otherwise), and raped repeatedly as she said no over and over.

So, how is this not a rape-rape, even if we were to accept the idea that there is any such distinction between rape and rape?

Why would these Hollywood folks jump to his defense?

This morning, I realized something so gross I had to float it by y’all to see what you think.

I think they think that no only shouldn’t he be punished because he’s the great artist Roman Polanski, but that it wasn’t rape-rape because it wasn’t some gross, disgusting guy who raped her, which of course would be terrible, but the great artist Roman Polanski.

It wasn’t rape-rape because it was a great man, way out of her league, deigning to pay her some attention.

Rape as flattery.

It wasn’t rape-rape because she doesn’t have to be ashamed of who raped her.

(I hope by now y’all have seen Kate Harding’s great piece at Salon about this.)

Bigamy Story Warms My Heart

So, usually, when a guy is cheating on his wife with another woman, no matter how clueless the other woman, blame gets heaped on her.  But check out this story about a Murfreesboro cop with two wives who was on his way to a third:

There was a message exchange on Facebook between the bride-to-be and the two wives.

“I’m stuck in Vegas with a wedding dress – turns out the groom has two wives already,” said bride-to-be.

“I’m glad we saved you, I’m so sorry,” said wife number one.

“Okay, I got to control my temper. I’m glad I was saved. Thank you,” said bride-to-be.

“We don’t want to tread on your feelings,” said wife number two.

“I’m not part of this anymore. His stuff is being taken out of my apartment as I type. I can’t tell you how grateful I am to you both,” said bride-to-be.

See that?  The two wives banded together to save the third from this asshole!

It just warms my heart.

Straight Men of Tennessee, Gather ‘Round

I have read this post at Tiny Pasture’s and I have read your comments and I am stunned that “Be discerning in who you fuck” is novel advice, but it is, apparently. Therefore, as your internet aunt, I have taken it upon myself to dole out for you a little advice similar to the advice we women get all the time.

1. Be discerning in who you fuck.

2. People, even women, will lie to get you into bed. Not all women, but a lot of us.

3.  If you don’t want to have a kid, use birth control.  No, not, “She said she’s on the pill,” but “I’m putting on a condom right now.” Not only is it very easy for a girl to lie about using birth control (see 2), it’s very easy for some forms of birth control (like the Pill) to be compromised by outside factors. So, if you don’t want to have a kid, you use birth control on your self.  If you don’t want kids, ever, or any more kids, get a vasectomy.

4. If your friends and family describe your girlfriend as a “crazy bitch,” or if you ever seriously think that your girlfriend is a “crazy bitch,” you need to pay attention to that. Yes, sometimes family and friends are wrong and maybe you just have the biggest assholes ever surrounding you, but those could be important warning signs.

5. Yes, some women will dick you over, as hard as we can, just because we can. But it rarely comes out of the blue.  Most people will tell you exactly who they are and what their issues are, if you know how to listen.

6. You don’t need a woman to be complete. And having any woman is not better than having none.

7. Yes, women can also be abusive and, when it comes to abuse from women, it can be very hard for y’all to even get taken seriously, let alone get help when things get bad, because our society teaches men to suck it up and take it, and that abuse from women is silly.  But even if you can take it, why would you?  Even if you can take it, should your kids have to?

8. See Ta-Nehisi Coates.

9.  There are a lot of good women out here, good women who are looking to fuck for fun and good women who are looking to fuck someone forever. But they’re not going to just fall into your lap and, until you find them, be careful out there.  There are a lot of fucked up people who will do you wrong.

Love,

Aunt B.

Who Cares?

I love that the discussion has now turned to whether Paul Stanley’s intern/mistress is a dirty slut.  As if there’s some “dirty slut” get-out-of-trouble-free card?

“Oh, yeah, Stanley abused his position of power and proved himself to be a hypocrite by trying to legislate morality for the rest of us while he was busy acting like his employees were also potential concubines, but don’t you see, Tennessee?  She was a dirty slut.”

“Oh, well, then.  Carry on, Stanley.”

As if girls who carry on with blackmailers normally have such unsullied reputations?

I mean, don’t get me wrong. I know there usually is a get-out-of-trouble-free card if you can prove the girl you got in trouble with is a dirty slut. That’s one of the reasons the howling on this thing is so loud.  It used to be and often is still the case that a man with a little power and authority could use that to get access to women who otherwise would not give him the time of day and if he crosses the line a little bit, if it becomes more coersion than seduction, he just reveals that she’s a dirty slut and everyone agrees that it was probably just a misunderstanding or that she really wanted it or that she deserved it and life goes on.

And when folks discover that the “dirty slut” revelation works on less and less of the population?  That the old rules, that they all agreed to and used to their benefit, don’t work as well as they used to?

Well, of course there’s some complaining.

That’s to be expected.

But here’s the weird thing, Tennessee, and the thing you ought to ask yourself.  As far as I can tell, Morrison’s not saying she was coersced into anything with Stanley. It seems to have been consentual.  And we already know that she runs around with married men and cavorts with blackmailers, so it’s not like the sanctimonious church crowd didn’t already have moral character issues to cluck about.

So, why is it so important to air her dirty laundry now?  Why is it necessary to show that, if you get caught running around with a legislator, your whole life is up for public examination and that everyone will know your dirty business?

The TBI is already involved. It’s too late for Morrison to keep her mouth shut.

So, why’s it necessary?

Whose mouths exactly need to be kept shut?

Times like these make you with there were women reporters on the Hill.

The Thing(s) that Bug(s) Me about Jon & Kate +8

I think I may have posted about this before, but I’m too lazy to look.  I was, however, talking about this this weekend and still thinking about it on the way home.

I have not watched that many episodes of this show and never a whole one all the way through.  But when flipping by, I would stop to watch the kids be cute and do cute things.

I mention this because it is possible that I managed to watch on the small handful of very rare occassions when Kate slapped Jon, but I tend to believe she slapped him almost every time I saw the show because she slapped him quite frequently.

And one show I watched, she was talking about how Jon used to make fun of how her belly looked after she had all those kids.

I’ve been thinking about that, because when I first heard it, I was like “god, what a fucknut.  Who says that about your wife after she’s had eight kids with you?”

But I’ve been thinking, what if Jon were Jonna and Kate were Karl.  Would I buy that because Jonna made fun of Karl’s body, Karl deserved to be able to slap her?  I’m not saying that that’s the argument Kate was making, of course, but it seems kind of how the show is set up, for Kate to be the put-upon drill sergeant who has to keep an army of kids and inadequate husbands together through discipline.

I also think that there’s the whole, “Well, she isn’t hitting him hard enough to hurt him,” thing.

But again, if Karl were slapping Jonna on tv regularly, would I buy that? That it’s okay because he’s not slapping her hard enough to hurt her?

We know well how male abusers work–how they and the people around them excuse their behavior because the victim deserves it in some way.

But it seems to me that here’s a classic example of how female abusers practice–wide out in the open because the kids are a handful, so who can blame her for losing it occassionally?, and because it’s kind of a joke that she hits her husband.  After all, you’d have to be a real wimp to not be able to take a few slaps.

You can see how our societal stereotypes about what it means to be a real man keep a lot of folks, even a lot of feminists, from recognizing what she does to him as abuse.  After all, we expect him to take it.  For him not to take it would be unmanly. (We call this “The Patriarchy Hurts Men, too” and then the men all laugh and say “Whatever” but I’m still right.)

But it still teaches the same thing to the kids–that problems are solved and frustrations resolved through violence and that you should be willing to tolerate some level of violence from your spouse.

But more than that what bugs me is that these two have behaved that way on television and then gone all over putting themselves out there as a good Christian example of a family.  I don’t blame them for trying to make a buck.  I even understand the motivations behind two people in a really fucked up marriage wanting continual outside validation that their fucked up situation is blessed by God.

But folks, if your church leaders watched that show and still had those folks into your church to talk to you or recommended their books for you to read, you might should ask yourself what kinds of shepherds are leading your flock.

The Patriarchy Sucks for Conservative Men, Too

I don’t get paid enough to contemplate Stacey Campfield’s penis.  I’m not sure how much would be enough to make me willing to contemplate Stacey Campfield’s penis, but believe me, if I were paid to contemplate Campfield’s penis, I would go all in, with some kind of disguise and a fake penis myself and I would follow him into the bathroom and to local watering holes.  I would take pictures.  I would track down other people who had seen it and interview them about their feelings about it.  I would draw pictures of it and hang those pictures in the Frist Museum, while dodging the security guards.

I’m just saying, in general, that, I don’t want to contemplate Campfield’s penis, but, if I were paid to do it, I would go about it thoroughly and professionally and I would share my findings with the world.

Not being paid, though, and not wanting to contemplate Campfield’s penis, I’m stuck in the unpleasant position of having to consider Stacey Campfield having sex.  Which, as you may know, often invoves his penis.

And yet, as long as Campfield’s talking about having sex, I have to think about him having sex and… well… here we are.  I’m thinking about Campfield’s penis.

Via Tom Humphrey:

A review of a video recording of the committee session shows the exchange followed Richardson’s declaration that men who have sex with a woman have put themselves in a position of becoming a father.

“We need to be honest here. We’re not walking out on a street and picking men willy-nilly to be someone’s father,” said Richardson. “These are men who had sexual intercourse with this woman… men where there is a very good biological reason (to suspect paternity).”

Interjected Campfield: “Sherry, if I had sex with you, I wouldn’t want to pay for your children.”

“What did you say?” said Richardson. (Note: Rep. Sherry Jones is another member of the committee who had spoken against the bill and who also ultimately voted no.)

“If I had sex with you, I wouldn’t necessarily want to have to pay for your children,” replied Campfield. “If I were not the father, I don’t think that would be appropriate.”

So, here we are, forced to think about Campfield having sex.  And I’m going to be honest, my first thought was that no conservative Christian woman are going to have sex with Campfield because they don’t have sex with men they aren’t married to and no libertarians are going to have sex with Campfield without him using a condom and them being on some form of birth control and no liberal woman who knows him is going to be able to have sex with him since his antics cause arid tightening in Democrats, so Campfield talking about potential kids he might or might not have is a little beside the point.

But my second thought is about how classy it is of Campfield to insinuate that the women on the other side of the discussion were sluts, that, if they were willing to fuck him, of course he couldn’t be sure they weren’t fucking other guys.

And, yeah, that’s kind of insulting.

But, then, I have to wonder–what if that is actually what Campfield has to face?  That he can’t take for granted that any woman who would be willing to have sex with him would be willing to have sex with him exclusively?

And, frankly, that makes me kind of sad.

If you practice monogamy, it’s not too much to to expect a partner who does as well.  Many, many people have monogamous relationships; it’s completely workable and something that can happen for anyone who wants one.

BUT (and of course there’s a ‘but’), you have to look for it and work at it.  You can’t just say “I want to be able to have sex with whomever I want, and I want her to only have sex with me.”  You have to be thoughtful and discerning.  And yes, even then, you might get metaphorically screwed while you’re getting literally screwed, but still, not every woman is going to fuck you over and if you keep ending up sleeping with women you can’t trust, at some point, you need to step back and take a hard look at why you continue to sleep with women you can’t trust.

But this is another way that the current arrangement (yes, the “patriarchy”) sucks for conservative men, too.  Sure, on the surface, it seems great that there are girls you marry and girls you fuck, because you get to fuck girls, but buying into this idea that girls who fuck outside of marriage are bad girls means that, if you are fucking outside of marriage, you are fucking bad girls who may lie to you and scam you and trick you.

And, when faced with scheming women out to do you wrong, you have two choices.  You can either work harder to keep the current arrangment in place–“Hmm, I want to fuck bad girls, but I don’t want to get conned into paying for kids that aren’t  biologically mine, so I will ask the State Legislature to pass laws that will protect me from getting conned like that, even if it means treating all women like they’re lying con-artists.”–or you can make some other arrangement–“Hmm.  Maybe I should let go of this crazy idea that only bad girls want to fuck outside of marriage and look for girls who won’t do me wrong to fuck.  And, if I’m worried about being scammed, I could use a condom when I have sex.  And treating women like human beings with sexual desires and not just monitary desires would make me less of a douchebag, which would also increase my chances of getting laid!  Hurray!”

I’m just saying, if you’re Campfield or like Campfield, maybe you try the second thing first.

Lynn Comes so Close

Representative Lynn says

It is very difficult for me to understand why if a woman requests to be treated professionally, and needs assistance to make that happen, she is later condemned as though she was the perpetrator.

Hmm.  Yes.  Why is that?  What would be the cause and the mechanism that would a.) make a man think that he didn’t have to treat his female colleague professionally? b.) make a woman feel like she couldn’t get the man to take seriously her objections to his treatment of her without a more powerful man to back her up? and c.) then later make her feel as if she is to blame for the man’s poor behavior towards her?  What would that be called?

And why has there been no massive, centuries-long struggle to fix it?

I just don’t know.

Maybe it would have some clever name that would let you know it was about helping a girl.  Girly-ism?  Female-ism?  Lady-ism?  Dame-ism?

Something along those lines.

And there could be, in this “dame-ist” movement, this idea that a woman should have control over what happens to her body and that it shouldn’t be up to (other) legislators to decide what happens to her.

Well, maybe some day.

Squabbling Over Crumbs of the Patriarchy!

I was slipped these two stories, which are two different takes on an incident over in Blount County (local and FoxNews).  And I bring it up because it’s one of those stories that gets more interesting when you take a second to consider it.

The short form (from Fox):

Sabrina Steele, 28, says that when she applied for work at Pope’s Plant Farm in Greenback, Tenn., a man she believed to be the farm’s owner discouraged her from taking the job so that he could hire foreign workers instead.

Critics say the case demonstrates that changes to the government’s H-2A foreign worker program will make it harder for Americans to find work.

In other words, those damn brown people took jobs American workers were willing to do, and doesn’t that suck?  Blah, blah, blah.

But what’s interesting is that what this case makes clear–foreign workers are not “stealing” jobs from Americans.  No Hispanic guy butted in line ahead of her and took the last job.  The guy, the American guy, who runs the place made a conscious decision to hire non-citizens to work for him over citizens.

I don’t know the specifics in this case, but in general, I know that people prefer to hire non-English-speaking Hispanics because they believe that they work harder than U.S. workers and are more reliable.  It’s also obvious that they believe that non-citizens are willing to work under circumstances citizens won’t because the non-citizens not only fear losing their incomes (which often support families and communities back home), but also a fear of being sent out of the country and having to find means, legal or not, of getting back here.  Having Spanish speaking workers in predominantly non-Spanish speaking communities makes those workers even more dependent on you and makes it harder for them to complain about you, should you mistreat them.  It also serves to keep the community from being too concerned about their treatment, because they don’t have people and there’s a communication barrier.

In other words, the boss’s success in business is precipitated by his ability to keep his workforce compliant and isolated and that compliance and isolation is made possible by his exploitation of the workers’ circumstances and the community’s prejudices.

In other words, he sets both groups against each other and he stays above the fray.

And as long as most folks believe that the “guest workers” are here doing jobs Americans don’t want, there’s no problem (for the boss).

But what happens when there’s a challenge to that?  When some American does desperately want the job the Bossman has said no Americans want?  What strategy can he use to dissuade that American from taking said job after appeals to her “fear” of these non-English speakers (“When she went to the farm to apply, Steele said, Mike Pope offered her a job, but he told her she’d be working 80 hours a week and would be the only English-speaking American employee besides the office workers.”)?

Again, from FoxNews:

She said Pope told her she would be outnumbered by men 20-to-1, and that she should consult with her husband before taking the job.

Bwah ha ha ha ha ha ha.

I like to throw out the term “patriarchy” just because I know it makes some of you bristle, but in order to understand what’s going on here, I do think we need to take a second with Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza and her term kyriarchy (which I first heard about from Lisa over at My Ecdysis and find it so damn useful for seeing what’s happening in cases like this):

I coined the neologism kyriarchy, derived from the Greek words for “lord” or “master” (kyrios) and “to rule or dominate” (archein), in order to redefine the analytic category of patriarchy in terms of multiplicative intersecting structures of domination. Kyriarchy is a socio-political system of domination in which elite educated propertied men hold power over wo/men and other men. Kyriarchy is best theorized as a complex pyramidal system of intersecting multiplicative social structures of supremacy and subordination, of ruling and oppression. Kyriocentrism is a name for the linguistic-cultural-religious-ideological systems and intersecting discourses of race, gender, heterosexuality, class, imperialism, and other dehumanizing discourses that legitimate, inculcate, and sustain kyriarchy i.e. multiplicative structures of domination.

In other words, what I believe Schüssler Fiorenza is saying is that the way we screw each other over (or dominate each other) is not static.  In any given circumstance, for instance, the man is not always going to be the oppressor and the woman the oppressed.  It’s fluid.  The white woman might, in one circumstance, dominate the black man in her employ.  That black man might dominate the black woman he’s married to, who, for kicks, beats up the white woman because she’s a lesbian.  See, everything’s in flux; who’s able to fuck over whom depends on the circumstance.  (and the problem, I might point out, is the whole fucking-each-other-over-ness).

Now what’s going on with Pope (and oh my god, you’ve got to love that name under these circumstances) who happens to be the mister who rules the land Steele wanted to work on becomes clear.  His goal is to hold and maintain his power, over the men who work for him, and, to some extent, over Steele.  And look at the way he invokes all these “structures of supremacy and subordination” to turn Steele down.  He’s appealing to her as an American–of course she, as an American who is above these non-Americans, would not want to stoop to work with them.  He’s appealing to her as an American–she’s so lazy that she is beneath these hard working non-citizens.  Those two things together make no sense on the surface–how can she be both better and worse than her competition?–but when viewed as him just trying to figure out which structure of domination is going to work, which bullshit key slides into the slot that makes her understand that HE IS NOT GOING TO GIVE HER THE JOB BECAUSE HE IS IN CHARGE, it starts to make sense.

Neither of these things work so he moves onto “oh, but you’d be the only woman” and “shouldn’t you discuss it with your husband”?  And follows it all up with “I can make you work so many hours that you wouldn’t want the job.”  But it all boils down to I AM IN CHARGE AND YOU CANNOT WIN WITH ME.  He can give her a menu of reasons why and she can pick the one that lets her slip into believing that she is better or worse than the people who already have the jobs.  But really, it has nothing to do with them.

It has to do with him and his methods for holding onto his power.

I Succumb to teh Patriarchy

So, we were talking this afternoon about how happy men are when they have a task.  I was embarrassed to admit that I find this to be true.  I mean, one of the ways the Patriarchy fucks up men is to teach them to base their self-worth on what they do for people rather than just on their inherent niftiness.

And it seems wrong to exploit that.

And yet, when my dad has tasks, he’s much happier than he is when he doesn’t have tasks.  Today he’s cleaned my tub, changed out the shower curtain, purchased a bath mat, scraped all the dirt dauber nests out of my garage, discovered a box of honey, bug-bombed the shed, cleaned half the shelves in the garage, taken two showers, bought a fridge, discussed lawnmowers, helped in the purchase of a microwave/exhaust fan, and conferred with Mack and his wife about various things.  And he took the dog for two walks.

How many discussions have we had about how fat I am?  Zero.

About any other topic I find unpleasant or heartbreaking?  Zero.

How delightful and fun has it been to have him around?  Very.

Fine.  I give up.  Patriarchy, you win this round.

The Three Best Inventions

I went to the Sounds game tonight with Dr. J, Dr. Lover, the Queen and her consort, and Plimco was my date. I love those women; I really do. Spending time with them is just awesome and terrible at the same time. It’s always a great time and yet you’re always aware that it’s just too short.

Drs. J and Lover are about to head across the continent to take jobs at the foot of mountains. And it seems like it will be much too long before I get to see them again.

We were sitting with a bunch of boys in some kind of boot camp program, who were out, as a reward, watching baseball. They were debating what the best invention ever was and they were arguing between fireworks, cars, and girls. Girls, finally, won.

And then I pulled them aside, explained the patriarchy to them, and told them that any creation myth that framed men as the inventors and women as the invention was inherently oppressive and damaging to women. They nodded in agreement and asked me to explain more about how gender is constructed.

No, just kidding.

I have to throw stuff in there like that every once in a while just to keep Exador and Lee on their toes.

Really, I was sitting there listening to them talk about stuff, rapping Eminem songs, and trying to talk baseball. All of them seemed to me to be roughly Supermousey’s age, which, when I was their age, was just the time when boys were neck-deep in baseball. These kids didn’t even know what “R, H, E” across the top of the scoreboard meant and were convinced, for a while, that the Sounds were winning because they had more hits than the other team, even though the other team had more runs.

They also were talking major league baseball and they got around to talking about the Yankees, which was a team some of them liked, but none of them really knew what a Yankee was–aside from a baseball team. One kid had a vague idea that it had to do with a war, but he thought that the British called us “Yanks” during that World War.

So, they asked the guy they were with, “What’s a Yankee?” and he explained that it was a Northerner, that during the Civil War, the North was the Yankees. And I swear, they started asking him about the Civil War. None of them seemed to have ever heard of it.

There we are, sitting not a hundred yards from Fort Negley, a fort some of their ancestors helped build, and these kids didn’t know we had a Civil War.

I was, and am, dumbfounded.

I mean, I wanted to grab a school board member and kick them.

What is a person without his history?

That’s a birthright–the history of this nation you’re born into. That knowledge is yours. And that we’re not giving it to our youngsters? Shame on us. A kid has a right to know his own history.

I don’t know. It shook me pretty bad. Here are all these boys who are someday soon, very soon, going to be men. And what kinds of men will they be if they don’t somehow acquire this foundational knowledge that will help them understand how the world works and what’s at stake in it?

I mean, we talk a great game as a country about how families need men. But, if we’re not raising men with basic understandings of stuff, like history, like baseball, like what to do with yourself other than get into trouble, then what benefit are they to a family, really?

It makes me suspicious that that’s how the game is rigged, that we fuck over these little boys as hard as we can–we try to keep them ignorant so they don’t know other possibilities and in the “justice” system so that we can monitor them–so that we can then turn around when they get older and complain about what shitty dads they are and what shitty men they make, as if they just magically turned out that way, instead of being shaped to fail from the jump.

I just hope that curiosity leads some of them someplace, to open a book they’ve not been assigned, or to open their ears to some old KRS-1, or Public Enemy, or someone who will say to them “It’s not fair, but it’s on you to learn this shit, because, otherwise, it’s being kept from you.”

Edited to Add: I decided to edit this to add that it appears, upon rereading the comments, that my reference to Fort Negley was not enough to make clear to you why I was especially appalled that this group of kids would not know what the Civil War was.

In Fact, I Don’t Have Any On, Right Now!

I have a new theory about pants.  I know many of you are unaware that I had an old theory about pants, but I did, hearkening back to when I was a wee girl, and that was that pants were awesome and it was unfair that I was made to wear sundresses that matched my mom when the boys got to wear jeans, glorious jeans.  A lack of pants became to my young proto-feminist mind, a symbol of patriarchal oppression.

My new theory is that pants were a dreadful misstep by the patriarchy. Who wouldn’t, if not cowed by tradition, want to wear skirts?  When it’s warm, you get a nice breeze where you need it and when it’s cold, you can layer underwear under them in ridiculous amounts in ways you just can’t with pants.

No, I think men thought “Ah, pants, that will prove we’re the ones who can ride horses!  That proves we rule!  Hurray.  Let’s start the patriarchy, now that we have pants.” and then, when they realized how hot and uncomfortable it was to sit around in pants in the summer, they were forced to invent the bathrobe, but they could never give up pants because they’d spent so long trying to invent a piece of clothing that would differentiate them from women in some unmistakable fashion and, for some reason, “We’re the ones who can wear this gourd around” did not catch on in places that get snow.

Anyway, it’s general knowledge that pants suck.  I mean, they don’t suck as bad as, say, getting bit by your own cat, but they suck.  And it’s not like men, in the thralls of the patriarchy, can just say “Ooops, we were wrong.  Hand over the summer cotton smock.”  No, instead, they have to try to make pants seem so awesome and cool and like wearning pants will finally mean equality and justice for everyone.

And then, once every woman in the world finally embraces pants, men will suddenly say “Ha ha, we’re the ones who wear skirts and dresses!  Balls dangling freely in the breeze!” and we’ll spend another five hundred years trying to get back to the point where we can wear skirts.

I’m Antsy

One weird side-effect of the whole house-hunting thing has been witnessing people’s weirdness about the Butcher.  And, honestly, I can’t decide if it’s weirdness about the Butcher or weirdness about money.  Maybe a little of both.

See, I’m waiting to make an offer on the house until after the Butcher sees it.  And, apparently, this is shocking.  But he lives with me.  He helps pay bills.  And I trust his judgment.  And yet, even this morning folks were like “Who’s paying for this house?  Who’s name is going to be on the mortgage?”

But I trust the Butcher.  Even if he didn’t live with me, I’d want him to see the house before I made a commitment to it.  And not because he has a magical penis (because, of course, that’s why I had Mack take a look at it), but because he knows me better than most people and I trust his opinion about whether I’m doing the right thing.  And it’s not that I’d let him override me; I just want to have his opinion to take into account.

But the whole “who controls the money in the house” issue has been one that’s been ongoing–not for us, I don’t think–but for the people around us.  I remember some of the Butcher’s crazy Christian friends who I took to Noshville where they proceeded to pray loudly and then steal things.  They were so obnoxious to the waitress that I gave her a 50% tip.  When we got home, they told on me to the Butcher, said I was being a bad steward of his money.  You know, since he was the man.  And men are supposed to control the household money.

This is kind of off-track, but in my mind, linked, because it feels like that same kind of ridiculous surety, someone might let Pastor Pete know that “sincere” DOES NOT mean “without wax” and any quick trip to the OED or even Wikipedia would have told him that he’s spreading an untruth.  I can’t say that it’s a “Breaking the Big Ten” level of untruth, but it does go to show that sincerity of belief and the Truth are not the same thing, which is probably a good lesson.

I don’t mean that as a snark against Pastor Pete.  He seems like a fine guy from his blog.  Maybe it’s not fair to call him out, not being a member of his community.  I think I won’t link to him.  No need to butt in and be rude.

But, since we’ve decided not to butt in and be rude, can I tell you how much I love that he’s taken a word that is probably pagan at root–“Oxford English Dictionary and most scholars state that sincerity from sincere is derived from the Latin sincerus meaning clean, pure, sound (1525–35). Sincerus may have once meant “one growth” (not mixed), from sin- (one) and crescere (to grow). Crescere derives from “Ceres,” the goddess of grain, as in “cereal.”–and, through his pseudo-etymology, untroubled it for himself theologically?

Just Some Squares on the Couch

Thanks to a relatively bland Ghost Hunters and a kind of eh, but sad episode of Law & Order, I am done making squares for the Kool-aid afghan and they are all stacked in two piles.

It will not be an enormous afghan, but it will be wild and I cannot believe that I did everything from dying the yarn on up to this.

I’ve got some stuff to think about.  I think, for instance, I was unfair to the men of Tennessee in my recent post about y’all just being sore that being married doesn’t legally oblige your wife to stay faithful to you and doesn’t let you off the hook for your children when you decide you don’t like your wife any more.  It was over the top to accuse you of just wanting a prostitute who would stay bought.

Though, a little funny.

I took for granted that we were all on the same page about the basic facts on the ground–that you can be someone’s legal father without being her biological father, that you can refuse to pay child support and still have a legal relationship with that child, and that Stacey Campfield never met an ill-thought-out piece of legislation that would seem to make life as difficult as possible for folks already at a disadvantage (and really, there are few people in our society at more of a disadvantage than kids being used as pawns for their parents to hurt each other as bad as they can)–and we clearly weren’t.

Here’s the other thing, though, boys.  You don’t respond to girls who don’t piss you off.  And, true, it’s a fine line between being ignored by you because I’m blogging about arts and crafts and my kids and what I had for dinner and being ignored because you’ve lumped me in with Egalia.

And I wouldn’t care so much except you’re out there putting forth policies that adversely effect me and people I care about.  And you don’t think them through. 

I don’t want to pander to you, but I don’t want to alienate you.  After all, I’m in your bushes right now, (I’m not stalking you.  I just don’t like to watch TV by myself.) and I’d rather not have any trouble about it.

Ha, no.  I just want to be heard.  But I do think I crossed a line.  So, I’m sorry.

A Post Perhaps Too Meta

Two things before we get started.  1.  I swear, Katie, I am not stalking your baby, but I’ll admit that I do have this fantasy in which your baby and Bekah’s baby get together and I get to watch and laugh like an idiot.  2. Up front I’m just going to say that using babies from one site (not your own) to illustrate a point you’d like to make on another site (not your own) is perhaps the most self-indulgent ridiculousness I’ve ever asked you to endure, especially because I’m not going to post the pictures here, so you’ll have to go look at them and then come back here and read my witticism, but god damn, it cracks me up, so fair warning: I’m laughing.  You may not.

It’s like Olbermann’s puppet theater, but with babies.

So, if you will, please, go read Mack’s post and then consider these babies.

Mack will be played by the bald baby and I will be played by the baby with hair.

First picture:

Mack: Waaa, the economy sucks and soon we’ll all have to live in a hippie commune with no tv or radio or even the internet and I’m too young to go the rest of my life with getting to play drums on Rock Star again!

B.: Don’t worry, crybaby.  It won’t be that bad.  You’ll still find things to entertain you, like this toy and me.  I’m entertaining.

Second Picture:

Mack: Okay, that does soothe my fears.  And I might be able to derive some nutritional value out of this toy when grocery prices skyrocket so high we can’t afford to go to Walmart.

B.: What?  I’m supposed to cry over not getting to go to Walmart?

Third Picture:

Mack: Hey, pretty baby.  Want to take a peek at what I’ve got under my skirt?

B.: I can’t help but think that the very texture of this text gives us some keen insights into the socio-political symbolism inherent within.  See how the patriarchy dresses up its most vile ideas in the soft comfort of a book with no hard edges…

Fourth Picture:

Mack: There are eight inches on this inch worm… You know what else around here has eight inches?

B.: Knock, knock!  Is there anyone home in there?  I’m trying to talk to you about the important topic of patriarchal oppression.

Last Picture:

Mack: You mean like when some patriarch comes along and steals all your toys, like this?

B.: Um, yeah.

Putting Men Between a Rock and a Hard Place

So, I’ve been mulling over the exchange between Say Uncle and KAG about the new hair salon designed for [straight] men, Gentlemen’s Top Cuts.  I like both of them and I find that KAG has a homey kind of feminism that appeals to me, so when Uncle starts throwing around accusations of misandrist behavior on her part, it sets me thinking.

Specifically, it sets me thinking about slut-shaming and whether there’s a male equivalent.

Slut-shaming, to try to put it concisely, is a method of trying to control and/or curtail the the behavior of women through labeling them as a slut.  You might wonder, well, what’s so bad about being called a slut?  If you are, live it and love it, and if you’re not, well, just ignore the haters.  But see, the tricky thing is that we still carry around this belief that sluts can’t be raped.  So, calling a woman a slut and getting the label to stick is not just about damaging her reputation; it’s about marking her as someone who deserves whatever sexual violence just “might” come her way.  A bit like when the crime boss comes into your shop and remarks about what a nice business you have, and what a shame it would be if anything were to happen to it, you know, if you got some kind of reputation for being a troublemaker.

It’s that element–the threat of violence that lingers behind the slut-shaming–that makes it very difficult for me to imagine a direct equivalent for men.  You could sleep with six thousand women and, if by chance, one of them got you drunk and stuck a dildo up your ass while you were passed out, no one would think you were asking for it.  Or maybe for a more applicable example, you could sleep with six thousand women and if one of us lied to you about being on the Pill in order to trap you into a relationship because now we have your kid, folks would still recognize that wasn’t your fault.

But the Patriarchy doesn’t let men off scotfree.  I think it’s immediately obvious to most folks why calling any guy a pussy or a bitch or a fag (meaning, of course, a man who–like women–lets [or can’t stop] men put their penises in him) is demeaning to women–because it makes being like a woman an insult.  But the thing that we don’t often acknowledge is that those insults do have lingering somewhere in the back there the insinuation that, because said bitch, pussy, or fag is acting like a woman, he’s vulnerable to the same kinds of violence that happen to women.

So, the foundation is that it’s okay to use violence to keep women in line and that there are certain women–sluts–who so deserve the violence that might be visited on them they are responsible for that violence.

But the next level up, the floor we’re visiting today is the floor in which men are taught that the worst thing they can be is like a woman, because women are vulnerable to violence, and being like a woman makes men vulnerable to violence too and so don’t be womanly and don’t be vulnerable.  And we all know that needing or wanting something makes you vulnerable.

And what is one thing that most straight guys want?  Girls to pay attention to them.

So, it seems like many straight men, especially young straight men, are trapped in this position where they’re told that, in order to be a real man, they have to get women without being vulnerable to them.  So, they both have to prove that they desire women (because they don’t want to be labeled as being fags) and they have to not desire women too much.

Think, for instance, how we call a man who acquiesces too much to the desires of his wife or girlfriend “pussy whipped.”  Want us, but not too much.

And this seems to me to be where we get closer to the male corollary to slut-shaming, the shaming of the guy who’s not a “real man,” especially the shaming of the guy who can’t get laid.

I think this type of “loser-shaming” (for lack of a better term) is really dangerous, especially as perpetrated on young guys who lack the finesse and skills of older men when it comes to getting attention from women.  Look at how it has the potential to fuck up everyone.

What is the easiest way for a guy to have sex with a woman while at the same time proving that he doesn’t desire her as a person in a way that makes him vulnerable to her? Make sure it’s clear that he’s in charge; that he’s the one deciding that they’re going to have sex, not her.

Which, finally, brings me around to my problem with this statement from KAG:

I suspect Gentleman’s Top Cuts’ clientele will end up consisting largely of men who spend much of their time playing video games in the basement apartments they share with their cats, located underneath their moms’ houses – guys whose actual dating/love lives are so sad that it actually gives them a thrill to have their split ends lopped off by a stranger in a bikini.

Am I wrong here? If you are a woman, would you care and/or find it quite pathetic if the man in your life got his hair cut here? And if you are a man, would you go here? More tellingly, would you actually admit to patronizing this place?

There’s nothing wrong with straight men desiring women.  That’s how it works.  Yes, there are huge problems with how men act on those desires, sometimes, but the impulse–to want the attention of attractive girls–isn’t wrong.

And I can’t help but read this and see some massive “loser-shaming.”  It looks like KAG is saying that only losers would go to this place, that only losers pay women to pay attention to them, that those men have sad love lives and that women would find it “quite pathetic” if men got their hair cut there.  And why?

I think it’s two-fold.  One, because we’re supposed to see it as pathetic that a man might so want attention from a woman that he’s willing to pay for it: he wants her too much, thus marking him as not being a real man.  And two, because just like slut shaming is about using the insult and the amorphous threat of violence behind it as a way to keep women acting “proper,” this is clearly about using the insult,with the threat of not really being able to attract women which then carries with it the threat of not being seen as a real man which carries with it the amorphous threat of violence, as a way to try to control men’s behavior.

But we just can’t work it that way.  It’s not right.

It’s fine for us to think that the Gentleman’s Top Cuts business model is stupid.  We might see it as exploitative of women and even exploitative of men.  I think it’s fair to make those kinds of arguments against it.

But we know, we know as feminists, that what makes a “real man” and what makes a “loser” are fucked up expectations of men and the pressures that men feel to be “real men” and to avoid being losers are toxic, not only to them, but to us.

And so, even if we don’t like what a man is doing, we can’t fall back into trying to make them ashamed of being seen as a loser.  That’s just not right and only reinforces the notion that being a loser is the worst thing a man can be.

“But Aunt B., I Don’t Want to Put on Good Music and Dance Around My Office!”

Tough.

Good lord, people.

Go over, shut your office door, come back around here and press play on these puppies.

“No, I hate old blues. No, don’t make me listen to old blues!”

Look, we can ease into it.

We’ll start with Zeppelin. See, that wasn’t so bad. It was even kind of fun, wasn’t it?

Or the Rolling Stones. You like them, right? I saw your butt wiggling just a little bit.

Okay, now just try a little Blind Willie and then…this.

Ha, that reminds me. Last night, the Simpsons was the one where they all go to England and Bart and Lisa do all that candy and it’s like from Trainspotting and Homer and Marge are looking for them and Homer’s all like, “It’s Jimmy Page, England’s premier thief of black American music.”

I don’t think that’s exactly fair, though Zeppelin are big thieves, but the Stones are pretty big thieves, too.

I like this rendition of Morganfield’s “Can’t Be Satisfied,” though, because I think it shows you how the stealing goes around. Here, just to have it, let’s take a listen to Morganfield’s “Can’t Be Satisfied” from the Chess years. This is probably the version the Rolling Stones heard and were covering.

His voice is a little higher, a lot younger, and, to my ear, I think it’s obvious that this is a studio cut.  You get the sense that there’s no audience there.  There’s a little playing around in his delivery, but I think that Morganfield’s real gift was the connection he made with his audience (even on the cuts where his audience is just his band).  To me, when I listen to this cut, I hear a kind of flatness, a lack of spark, even though it’s a fine and fun song.

The Stones’ cut is clearly building off that.  They’ve added more echo and, again, it’s a fun song. I appreciate that they have the good sense to equally pair Mick’s voice with the guitar, almost like a duet.  But, in listening to it, I hear a group that loves a song, not a group that gets what the song is about (though the way Mick delivers the line about his baby jumping and shouting suggests maybe he kind of does get it).

But here’s where it’s interesting.  The Stones’ version came out in 1965.  The second Morganfield version we have here is from 1977.  Which means that Morganfield isn’t just redoing his own song; he’s, in effect, covering a cover of his work.

And he takes his younger self and the Stones to school.  The delivery has a little funk to it.  His voice is deeper and growlier and he’s clearly having a great, great time.  He’s got some back and forth with the band and the whole thing is loose in that way that reminds you of a big old Chevy Caprice–comfortable, tough, and with a back seat big enough for a girl to spread out in…

Heh.

Whoo.

I tell you what, if they could bottle “deep ole Southern man” voice and sell it as some kind of intoxicating liquor, that would be my favorite drink.

Are you dancing yet?

We’re Not Family, So Don’t Call Me Sister

Over at Slate.com, they’re talking about race and gender and such on their blog The XX Factor and Melinda Henneberger, in her entry, is wondering why some black women reject this notion of sisterhood with white women.

Anyway, what Donna said was, you know, women don’t vote as a block because we never had to go through something like the slave experience together. So the biological and cultural deal that I consider such a sealing bond just doesn’t compare.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this, coming at it from another direction, lately.  I’m not so worried about why women don’t vote as a block.  I’ve been thinking about the different responses to Obama and Clinton, even my own responses.

I’m not sure how this is going to go, but what the fuck, you know?  Let’s just step off the edge and see what happens.

I think that we’ve come to talk about oppressions as if they are all similar–that it’s about “othering” some group to the point where we think it’s okay to mistreat them or subject them to intense scrutiny or whatever that results in them not being able to function like full, free adults in our society.  And, on the one hand, I think that’s true.  I think that’s why it’s very easy to just swap one hated group out for another–first the Irish are ruining things, and then the Chinese, and now the Mexicans (or whatever).  It’s the same narrative, just with different characters, and because it’s a narrative, told in a round, we can have this moment–this strange, strange moment–where people do genuinely seem to be floundering for some way to acknowledge and move past how black people have been treated in this country while at the same time we seem to be devising ever more ridiculous ways to single out Hispanics for bullshit (though I should be clear that I have very mixed feelings about said floundering).

I say that because we cannot take a step back and say “Oh, hey, same story, different players.  Why do we want to continue to tell that story?” we will continue to to tell it and then shift uncomfortably in our seats later on when our children and their children ask us to explain ourselves, as if we both did and didn’t know exactly what we were doing.

So, on the one hand, we do tend to cram all our stupidities into similar form.  So it makes sense that folks would want to compare tragedies and measure them against each other, as if something is gained from seeing who has it the worst.  And it makes sense that women would sometimes say “Hey, we are all women and so we have all been through some shit and so we have this ‘in common’ that should bind us together.”

But here’s the thing, I don’t think the oppression of women works much like other forms of oppression, when it comes down to it.

There are three big differences that prevent “women” from being one great big shiny monolithic sisterhood.  One is that the oppression of women works at both a personal and a societal level, so you could have a woman who was severely abused in her own home, who’s still a racist and willing to use her power as a white woman to make other folks miserable even as her status as a white woman is contributing to her misery.  Being a woman, even a woman who’s going through some shit, doesn’t mean we’re not pulling some shit on others.  So, women of different groups are bound, I think, to be wary of locking arms and declaring ourselves to be bonded without first seeing some real evidence that a woman’s whole heart is in the right place.

Two, I can’t think of any other form of fucked-up-ness in our country that relies so heavily on the victims of the fucked-up-ed-ness to police themselves and each other.  Yes, of course, it’s there to some extent–otherwise insults like “oreo” and “twinkie” wouldn’t sting.  But I think most folks–black and white, for instance–see the “see there’s black people and there’s niggers” distinction for the load of racist shit it is, as a way for white people to try to exert power and authority we don’t rightly have over black people and to try to police their behavior and encourage behavior that makes us comfortable while discouraging behavior that makes us uncomfortable, as if black people should just be running around worrying about making us comfortable.

But, oh sweet and tender Jesus do we cling to the “me v. bitch” distinction! 

Oh, god yes, the world is full of bitches, terrible bitches who are too smart or too ambitious or too rich or too stuck up or too, heh, bitchy and god we hate those bitches.  We are not those bitches.  See, those bitches deserve the crap they get.  Shoot, those bitches need to be told a thing or two.  Sure, it sucks for us to point out what a terrible bitch you are, but better us than for the men to have to come in here and settle it, because clearly, you will lose and, though it hurts when we put a bitch in her place, it really hurts when the men do it.  Don’t make us bring the men into it.

Oh, hey, men!  Don’t you worry, honey, we’re not bitches like those bitches.  Yeah, we hate those bitches too.  Can I bring you a beer?

How can we have some kind of bond because of the cultural shit we’ve been through together as women when, often, the front line of people putting us through that shit are other women?  In any other circumstance, we get that people who identify with their tormenters are deeply wounded.  Why can we not see it in this case?

Whew, I thought the second reason was going to be the hardest to talk about, but it turns out that I’m actually having the most trouble with the third reason–sitting here staring at the screen, wondering if I can’t just trust you to glide over the rough edges of my first point, laugh along with my second point, and let the third point go without saying.

I guess not.

Okay, here goes.

The third reason is that, in broad generalities, the oppressor and the oppressed don’t see themselves as being a part of the same group.  So, Mexicans might face a lot of racial prejudice from white people, for instance, and as damaging as that is, they can just hate white people.  They can build up a little protective shell of hatred that has them and their loved ones on one side and the folks that do them wrong on the other side.

But where do you build that wall when the man who beats you is the same man that makes your heart skip a beat?  How are you not like your father, who tells you that no man will ever love you?  How do you accept that a man you know loves you with his whole heart and would give you the world also is fine with letting you be the one who does all the housework and the childcare and the shitwork of the marriage because he’s the man and you’re the woman?

With most other forms of oppression, the hate is there between the groups and often it’s up to charismatic leaders to say “Hey, if we’re going to overcome this, we have to learn to love each other, to see each other as human beings.”

But women, for the most part, see men as human beings.  We already love men.  We have tied our fates to them.

And frankly, I look at us at this moment and I do see a lot of people who look at Obama and his candidacy as saying something, or at least as an opportunity to say something, about race in America.  A lot of people want to live in an American where things are okay enough between black and white people that a black man can be president.

Now, we can argue all day about whether things really are okay enough between black and white people.  We can argue all day about whether Obama’s candidacy says anything about what’s really going on in American for black people.

But the truth is that we’re at a moment where most people in the country are saying “Yeah, something is fucked up between us and I wish it weren’t.”

That acknowledgement by society of and for women isn’t here yet.

And I know we’re skating dangerously close to the Oppression Olympics here, so I just want to reiterate that this story–about women in this country–is much different than other forms of oppression. 

I don’t believe we’re ever going to have some national moment of “Yeah, things are fucked up between us and I wish it weren’t.”  Because we need to have millions of individual moments like that–between men and women AND among women.