Monday, April 5, 2010

Worlds That Never Were

"And then I told that n***er to get to the back of the bus where he belongs."

I hate Norman Rockwell. Well, to be more accurate, I hate how people react to his paintings. "Look!" they say, "Back then, before women's rights and civil rights, before divorce and abortion, life was perfect." As if Mr. Rockwell were some sort of historian, recording the world as it really was.

Look at the picture above and consider something: at that time, blacks drank from a separate fountain and women were chattel. Yes, truly a wonderful time to be alive.

Duncan Idaho* at Masculinisme, a site devoted to misogyny (don't blame me if you actually click on that) apparently does believe that Norman Rockwell's pictures depict reality, and he can apparently read the minds of all women. The fact that, being a man, he couldn't accurately tell me how one woman feels, is entirely beside the point.

Some feminists have the nerve to claim that feminism was for the benefit for men too. Nonsense. It wasn't even for the benefit of women. Jenny represents many young women these days; thirty, single, unable to find a husband, hates her job and with little chance of any change in these circumstances. She's utterly miserable. So are most other women. Before feminism they would have been happy at home, raising kids and getting dinner ready for when their husband comes home from a hard day at work. They would have been busy, sure, but they would have been happy. Like their husbands.

So, one woman represents all women. Really. Because I know happy single women and miserable married women. Jenny, if she even exists, represents Jenny. (Oh, and Jenny? If you can't be happy by yourself, you won't be happy with someone else. That was a hard lesson to learn.)

This world that Duncan Idaho (really, the appropriation of that name is killing me) references, one in which women did not work, never existed. The world he dreams of, in which women are barefoot and pregnant, and only left the kitchen to clean the bathrooms, never existed. At a time when writers were men, the Bronte sisters were teaching those men how to turn a phrase. At a time when scientist could be defined as "man who engages in scientific pursuits", Madame Curie was schooling the boys in radiation. At a time when only men engaged in the fine art of hacking other men to death with sharp objects, Joan of Arc was showing us all how it's done.

But let's get a little closer to home, and a little closer to Norman Rockwell's pictures: my grandmothers. Both of my grandmothers worked for their entire adult lives. My mother was born exactly 9 months and 2 weeks after Pearl Harbor- because she was conceived the day my grandparents got married, the day before Grandpa left for war. For the pregnancy and 3 months after, Grandma moped about her parents' house worrying about Grandpa. Finally, her father told her to go to the city (Chicago) and get a job because he was sick of watching her mope about.

Grandma got a job as a legal secretary** (like me) and she loved it. She loved going to work and meeting interesting people, she loved the responsibility of preparing court documents and she loved having her own money. She stayed with that firm until she retired at age 60.

My paternal grandmother (whom I never met), worked as a cleaning woman, 12 hours a day, 6 days a week, because her husband was an abusive drunk who was rarely employed. She worked until she died at 53. She could have done that without being beaten and having half her money stolen to buy alcohol for her abuser, but divorce simply wasn't an option back then.

Beyond the fact that Mr. *Seriously, stop abusing that name* is referencing a world that never was, he also seems to think that the women's rights movement was foisted upon women who didn't want it. Stop and think about that for a moment. If women were truly happy as chattel, with no control over their bodies, no right to equal pay or credit in their name, why did the feminist movement happen at all?

Just because feminists were so neurotic and full of hate for children and men that they would prefer to have careers instead of a family, doesn't mean every other women would like that. But feminists made the choice on behalf of other women. And now other women are stuck with it.

Ignoring the strawman of the man-hating feminist, (feminists hate not all men, but you, sir, for very good reason) consider the animal rights movement. There are a small number of people in this country who believe it is highly unethical to use animals for food or clothing. Some even think that keeping animals as pets is the height of immorality. Yet I would guess that most people reading this wear leather and eat meat. The animal rights movement is something most people have no use for because they are happy eating meat and wearing leather, so it has not caught on. Unlike feminism, which caught on in a big way.

And seriously, change your fucking nom de blog. The great Duncan Idaho did nothing to you.

*How dare he defame the great Duncan Idaho so! Duncan Idaho was no misogynist. He was awesome.

**Srsly, does Mr. Fake Idaho think that men were nurses, teachers and secretaries prior to the feminist movement? Yeah, sure.


  1. Excellent post but you've got to admit that Rockwell was a helluva artist.

  2. It's not really Norman Rockwell, per se, that I find enraging, it's people's reactions to him. And I'm something of a philistine when it comes to art.

  3. I can only second IN THE STRONGEST POSSIBLE TERMS your horror at his appropriation of such a name. Duncan Idaho even rocked it as a ghola. He was... was... Well, he wouldn't have fainted in pleasure at Norman Rockwell. I feel like he'd have like JMW Turner, though.

  4. I'd also like to remind this guy that wildly pieces of popular culture like The I Hate to Cook Book didn't come out of a vacuum.

    Start cooking those noodles, first dropping a bouillon cube into the noodle water. Brown the garlic, onion and crumbled beef in the oil. Add the flour, salt, paprika and mushrooms, stir, and let it cook five minutes while you light a cigarette and stare sullenly at the sink.

  5. See, now that's where I screw up the cooking- I stare sullenly at the stove.

  6. "Wildly pieces of popular culture"? WTF, me? "Wildly popular pieces of culture."

    Anyway, that cookbook was published in 1960, i.e., pre-Betty, Gloria, et al. It wasn't a runaway hit because ALL women were so thrilled with being housewives.

  7. I certainly haven't been changed by the animal rights movement. Why, just this weekend I spent quite a bit of time wearing meat and eating leather. I also went of a bit of a bender...

    But, yeah, there was a time in my life where I was a potential housewife magnet. I was an Evangelical. I was planning on going in to the ministry. The number of women out there who simply wanted to be pastor's wives is, well, terrifying.

    I was actually dating a girl for a while who claimed that as her ambition. One day I realized, "Well this is stupid." The problem was two-fold. First, if I was with a woman who just wanted to be a pastor's wife, she'd pretty much make her whole world revolve around me and what I was doing. I don't even want my entire world to revolve around me. I'm not that interesting. Second, "I just want to be a pastor's wife," coming from the mouth of someone who is 19 signifies a singular lack of ambition. If you're just going to college to get your MRS degree, then you're not particularly dedicated to a lifetime of growth and learning.

    Now that I'm a little older I've realized that there's nothing wrong with wanting to stay home and raise the kids per se. Times change. Priorities change. But if you're a kid in high school or college who can't wait to get pregnant and head for the kitchen I'm pretty sure you're going to have a few regrets down the line.

    Even worse, though, is the fact that the anti-feminist viewpoint is mostly espoused by men. The jackass blogger in question has no more right to tell women that they should just stay home and be happy than, say, your average strawfeminazi has the right to tell men that they should be chemically castrated and put to work in the kitchen (or whatever it is that the anti-feminists are trying to convince us the feminists are saying these days). I imagine that if the guy who inspired this post were being forced to cook and clean all day when all he wanted was an education, autonomy, and some money to call his own he'd be pretty pissed.

  8. I can't imagine saying that to someone, Geds. How unspecial you must have felt. (The implication being that it's not you she wishes to be with, rather a pastor. Any pastor will do.)

  9. The implication being that it's not you she wishes to be with, rather a pastor. Any pastor will do.

    Yeah. That one didn't hit me until later. To be fair, I was with her primarily because I thought I couldn't do any better. So it was a terrible relationship all 'round. Mistakes were made. Feelings were hurt. Y'know, the usual.

    Also, to be fair, that's the same ex who tried to reconnect with me every year for nine years, the last time claiming that she knows me better than anyone else ever has or will. So, y'know, reality and non-objectification of the Other are not her strong suit.

    To the subject at hand, though, that's one of the inherent problems with conservative Christianity, though. Everyone is objectified. The pastor is a desired husband/respected member of the community because of his job title, not because of who he is (which can cut both ways, really. Consider Bruce or Ken Pulliam, who seem like they're great people but are now nothing to their former communities. Also consider the pastors who are complete jackasses but are excused because, y'know, they're pastors). Women are only respected if they're willing to play the proper woman role. Children are a political football. People who are regarded as strong Christians and workers are taken for granted until they get pissed off and leave. Then they're regarded as missions projects.

    After I wrote my April Fool's Post, one of the guys I had been friends with but hadn't talked to for years (to be fair, I was tired of hanging out with him long before I left the church, so I can't say he was one of the people who rejected me) slapped up a Facebook status about how sad it was to see how much one of his best friends had changed. No identifiers. No direct contact.

    And the weird thing is, I knew my April Fool's post would be inflammatory, simply because of the nature of the subject. But it's not like I said that Christianity was a pox on the earth and all people who attend church should be shot. I just used a crapload of Evangispeak to say I was going back to church.

  10. PF: I have the I Hate To Cook Cookbook. It is brilliant, and I actually use recipes out of it all teh time (they are perfect for working women, easy and fast).
    Aside from that, this man must, MUST, be hurt for taking Duncan Idaho's name. Who does he think he is?

  11. You should have also Rosalind Franklin, the scientist who discovered DNA(but which only Watson and Crick are remembered for) during those very Norman Rockwell days when women were supposed to be in the kitchen.
    I have to admit though, raising a family and keeping a home does bring joy to millions of women around the world. In fact, I know many women who actually left a successful job in the workplace to go home and raise kids and it made all the difference--to them, their marriage and their kids. It's sad when some elements of feminism go too far and show this in a negative light, as if it is some sort of punishment to be in the kitchen and wiping runny noses.

  12. i hesitate to ask, but i see it everywhere and it's driving me nuts...

    whats a "MRS" degree? i get that it's "mrs" as in "someone's wife", but i mean, is there an ACTUAL course of study that is considered the "mrs" program? like a home-ec type of college program? or is it *JUST* describing a certain segment that goes to college for the sole purpose of husband hunting?

  13. @ Denelian - the latter. "Getting a MRS degree" is a snark-term which can be defined loosely as "my goal here is to find a husband; actually getting an education/graduating with a degree is optional."

    This is not considered a flattering assessment, at least in the circles where I travel.

  14. These misogynists tend to view women as a class of like-minded, like-thinking things who belong to the class "Woman." (Note the singular, it implies that all women are exactly the same). Thus do they present anecdata of one woman supposedly being miserable as proof that all women are miserable. Usually because of feminism.

  15. Michael;

    thank you. i think. that actually makes my soul hurt, to think about...

    far be it from me, a disabled person who was in college until this last month and will now probably not be able to work [at least for a while - i'm hoping and sending myself GoodThoughts that eventually we will find a way for me to work], to begrudge *anyone* the ability to go to college and learn all they want.

    except - from the tone that tends to surround the discussion, these women aren't even really learning :(

    that is just so sad. and uncomprehensible to me. i know that there are lots of people who don't enjoy learning [i'm told MOST people don't? really? WHY NOT?!] but... that's just even sadder, somehow...
    actually sad, not me saying "that's sad" as a way to say "that's [insert insult]", but just makes-me-want-to-cry SAD.


    you are absolutely correct. :(

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