Toad in the Hole

November 29, 2006

Crab Season

I haven't dropped by at Twisty's today -- I can only get there from Joe's computer, so I have to plan and juggle a bit -- but I've been watching the rotating trolls there and they reminded me of something I'm starting to consider part of a syndrome. These are a species of concern-troll, and show up now and then to inform Twisty that she's, oh, usually it's "anti-woman" because she makes fun of spike heels and blowjobs and, see, this hurts their little fee-fees somehow. Not only is she (as she's noted herself) "trying to outlaw ______" (fill in whatever) but she's telling people they're "bad feminists" and betraying all normal women everywhere and just generally letting the side down.

On one hand, this is on the same broken record* as the whines about "free speech" (or "free speach") at anyone who dares to disagree with a certain sort of fool. Making fun of does not equal outlawing, even assuming one had the latter power. Yeah, that same old thing. And of course the alleged free speech seems to work only one-way.

On the other hand, it seems cut from the same polyester as the Angel in the House straitjacket. This is the one that insists women must be better (meaning saintlier, giving-er, more selfless, more squishy, more inexhaustible, whatever's convenient to the accuser) than men or we're somehow not proper women, let alone good feminists. Katha Pollitt had a reply to a LTTE in The Nation a week or two ago (I'll link later) about some group that's dogging female politicians -- and only females, evidently -- about assorted issues like the war. This is a group of womnen, who say they "expect better" from women. They're not just prodding these politicians; they're anti-campaigning them, even vs. men with similar voting records. Women get more grief from them than men, other things being equal. Something weird about that. Pollitt's reply sums it up neatly.

Other polka-dots on this fabric: The old refrain we hear from so many people of whatever sex who've been molested or abused by their fathers: That they're really angrier at their mothers, never forgive them etc., because the mothers failed to protect them.

And over here on the selvage; We've all (I bet) known women who lean on their female friends and family to make up for abuse from men -- boyfriends/ husbands/ bosses/ the male public, and use the energy they get to go right back to the abusive guys. They expect infinite and repeated care, resources, and rescue from whatever women they sucker, but they don't give it back; they just return to the scene of the crime, with some variation on the "That's Life" attitude: "But I looooooove him!" "Well, boys will be boys." "I've made my bed and now I have to lie in it -- you don't mind if I take all your quilts back with me, do you?"

Let's be clear: I'm not talking about someone who's crying on your shoulder after a bad breakup. Yes of course we support each other. That's not a problem; in fact, it's a sort of pleasure, community, connection. Maybe that good feeling is what the women I'm crabbing about are subverting. It's the weird sort of vampirism of women who expect other women to be their public (or private) conveniences and don't do much to change the situation they're crying for rescue from. It's a worse case of the sort of thing that lets highschool girls ditch their friends at the last minute for A Date. You know, with a real person, a guy.

I think I'll dilate on this later too.

*Anyone else here old enough to know why "broken record" means what it means when it's not about, oh, running a faster mile or eating more hotdogs?

Posted at November 29, 2006 06:56 PM


Hell, I actually OWN records. And a turntable (though it's under the bed at the moment). The best was when a record would start to skip on the radio and the DJ took awhile to become aware of it.

Gotta agree with you on the trolls, BTW. I find the whole thing sort of interesting, in a sociological/anthropological way, and the whole BJ dustup made me aware--and I hadn't been before--just how much Porn Sensibility has apparently infested the young 'uns. We oldsters, not so much, I think; I'm more a product of the 70s, which I think was a brief window of opportunity, kind of post-oppression (yeah, I know, not really) but pre-porn-oppression. I also realize that I've had much better relations with men, in general, than many people. Not universally good, mind you, but, then I haven't had universally good relations with any subgroup of humans, so that's hardly a surprise.

Sorry, I'm rambling, in that early-morning way.

Posted by: narya at November 30, 2006 11:39 AM

that trolling at twisty's has been odd. one of them came up with the inventive idea that critiquing blow jobs required twisty to disclose the details of her own sex life. huh?

we have a couple turntables around here, too.

Posted by: kathy a at November 30, 2006 03:41 PM

the woman who sucks the life out of you and returns to the scene of the crime is my sister in law. during her first divorce, she lived with us for a couple of awful months and then went back to the guy.

the second divorce got rolling this year, and this time she moved in here with her young son, displacing my son to the couch for several weeks. just an unmitigated disaster -- she expected unlimited services for every damned thing: free babysitting, cooking, shopping, washing the several towels they dropped on the floor daily, multiple demonstrations of turning on the computer and household appliances, looking up her legal plan, researching lawyers, enrolling her child in a new school, packing his lunches, driving him, reading things to her because she doesn't keep track of her glasses, telling her the time because she doesn't keep a watch, last-minute requests because she doesn't plan, looking up phone numbers because it is too much trouble to write them down and keep them. she "could not find" a single financial document in her house; i went and found boxes of them. she talked from 5:30 a.m. until 10 p.m., whether or not anyone else was in the room, and the topic was always that SOB father of her child -- there is nothing quite like encountering a loud, naked-but-fully-made-up woman bitching about her husband in the kitchen when all you want is some coffee, because someone woke you up too early with the blow-drying. packing lunches, helping nephew with homework, bathing him, bedtime stories, putting him to bed over and over.

when she left, she literally took my silverware -- she "didn't want" the stuff she had at home, leaving her and her son with no way to even eat microwaved food. she still kept coming over to do multiple loads of laundry [no quarters] and get food and free babysitting, still called multiple times a day. i was "mean" when i pointed out that i need to work [i work at home], and could not keep this up. etc. ad nauseum. she didn't call her brother on his cell phone with her stuff, because she didn't want to "bother" him -- it was just easier to call me with messages, even after she announced that i'm evil and not allowed to see her son any more and she never wants to see me again.

two months into the proceedings, she announced that her therapist thought she should start dating again. uh, right. so -- although she is not going back to her husband, we can look forward to another domestic drama with the next guy she snags. she will not be staying here, though. done my time.

Posted by: kathy a at November 30, 2006 05:01 PM

Yeah, and damned if they didn't pull out the Lavender Menace hankie and wave it around. They're taking up rather a lot of space, a bit disproportionate to their entertainment value.

I have, though, met apparently genuine people who carry on in a similarly sanctimonious fashion about how we all have to be nicey-nice to whatever fools happen to flop across our paths, cuz, you know, we're ~women~. Which is evidently pronounced "ladies." And, mysteriously, it doesn't obligate them to be polite. Or maybe the sanctimonious putdown is considered polite in some circles.

Narya, I do feel as if I slipped in through some brief window of opportunity in the '70s, and I think you're on to something about the Porn Sensibility. Maybe it's the later, shiner version of the gotta-be-Betty-Crocker-in-hippie-beads thing that pissed so meny of us off in the first place, way back when. Back to the pearl necklace, ladies, but this time it's the figurative one.

It's bewildering how so many young women seem to be convinced they have to dress funny to get sex, and furthermore that sex is something they have to endure -- the difference from "Lie back and think of England"* is that now they have to get all enthusiastic about it too.

*Yes that's a deliberate conflation.

Bitch, PhD got some squeals and trollingss when she allowed as how she didn't feel gooshy Hallmark lurve for her kid every minute of the day. (Post was titled "Why I hate PK" or "I hate my kid" or some such.) The idea that it's women's obligation to feel as well as act in certain convenient ways is hardly new; it's just getting different trappings. Besides the mummyluv and the pornyluv stuff, it's still somehow an insult to say that a women is angry, or, heaven forbid, bitter.

Well, so, usedtabe women had to "give" sex to "get" "love." Now we're spozta give appearance? gymnastics? some fakey thing or other to get sex, too. Backwards and in high heels and on our own dime, too. Really, whew, I'm relieved I stepped off that treadmill decades ago. I get affected by that social/presentable thing, but at least I don't have to get up before Joe to put my face on.

Oh yeah, -- hell, we still buy vinyl. Down Home has that back room and the damnedest things show up there cheap.

Posted by: Ron at November 30, 2006 05:28 PM

Yeah, kathy, that's the one. I bet most of us have one in our lives at some point. Friend of ours is a nonpracticing lawyer and used to work for some womens-center nonprofit. She told us about the multible repeat-returners they had there, that it took something like seven rounds before the average client would finally leave the bum. And seven times of showing up expecting free service, of course.

We're not only supposed to subsidize the men, we're supposed to cushion the women who step on us with those cute spike heels. And, as Echidne of the Snakes put it, make the world safe for the pretty nonfeminist women.

Posted by: Ron at November 30, 2006 05:38 PM

I really love Twisty (as a writer, obviously; I don't know her personally), and I've been reading her posts assiduously, but god, those comments! I can't even read most of them. They give me a headache.

I haven't commented there myself much lately because I have absolutely nothing to add except "Yup" which adds nothing or "I agree with everything you're saying except I actually do believe equality can happen or at least that conditions can improve; they already have even though the process is taking centuries; and diversity does not create problems, people create problems, and I still believe we can all be different in all kinds of readily apparent ways, enjoy our differences and not punish each other for them, but I'm an optimist and inclined to love people and be happy," and shoot, if I'm going to say that, why don't I just pose for a photograph wearing my pale pink Hello Kitty backpack and flashing a peace sign? Not that I would even be the slightest bit embarrassed doing something like that, but I can't see how it would add anything to the dialog, or whatever that is happening over there.

I am sort of boggled how much argument gets fomented every time. On the other hand, I'm pleased, too, because even if some of the people posting are coming from faraway positions, the talk makes people think about this stuff. They say only 15% of a blog's visitors ever comment. (Of course, I don't know who "they" are or where I read this statistic, so that might be scurrilous information, but pick a number less than 100 and the point will still be made.) Think how many people might read all or part of this, at least the posts if not the comments, and then surf away thinking. That's a good thing. That can only help.

That's what I think, anyway.

The reason I don't have a record collection anymore is that I left it with someone in L.A. who was supposed to take care of it until I could send for it, but when I did, she'd lost it. I am still unhappy about this. Some of that stuff was wax.

Posted by: Sara at November 30, 2006 06:32 PM

"make the world safe for the pretty nonfeminist women" -- excellent line!

and hell yeah, i'm bitter. it stinks to be used and chewed up and spit out and villified. at least, all of her several lawyers [so far] have been paid for dealing with her, and she didn't feel free to turn their households upside down, shut down their businesses, or treat them like scum. except maybe the woman lawyer she had, # 2, who was fired for not returning phone calls when SILfromH called and didn't leave messages.

Posted by: kathy a at November 30, 2006 09:05 PM

p.s. -- i am hoping that seeing all this scares the living shit out of my children, son and daughter both. and son's girlfriend, a 17 year old deemed fashionable enough by auntie dearest to get special heart to heart girl talk. to all of their credit, they seem to have decided she is insane. thank god i've done something right.

Posted by: kathy a at December 1, 2006 01:45 AM

Sara, ow. How does one lose a record collection? She got a singularity under the sofa cushions?

Kathy, I'm sure the women lawyer's heart was just ba-roken at being fired. The thing is, this SILfH is just one end of a continuum, and I've noticed that even seriously crazy people generally know who they can safely pick on. Good thing you shut that door.

Posted by: Ron at December 1, 2006 05:09 PM

She stored it at someone else's house, Ron, from which it mysteriously disappeared, big shock. And even though this happened in or around 1989, I'm still peevish about it.

I dislike flakes.

I also dislike people like Kathy's sister-in-law. But that's why we have boundaries, and it sounds like Kathy gets this. One thing I've always dreamed of seeing in schools is a class on practical social skills, including things like setting boundaries even in your parents' house, even at Thanksgiving, et al.; not letting men beat you no matter how cute they are; what to do when someone you know is being beaten; recognizing abuse that is not physical; recognizing when someone is placing unreasonable demands on you which you are not obliged to fulfill even if you share genes; how to defuse button-pushing; how to tell when someone is substance abusing; how to protect yourself from the fallout, etc. I went to a psychologist in the early '90s to learn these things. It would have been so much more convenient to have learned it in high school.

Imagine how badly the godbags would flip out if such a course were offered as core curriculum. Whoo-eee. It could be the new sex ed.

Ah. Fantasies.

Posted by: Sara at December 1, 2006 05:34 PM

i like sara's idea for the high school social skills class!

normally, i have much better boundaries, earned the hard way, sara. got snookered this time, because SILfH arrived with a broken rib, and she had declined to press charges or get other help a couple of months earlier, but this time she was full steam ahead. progress! i thought. rescuing nephew! i thought. and probably both those things were true, to some extent.

i underestimated the power of her princess delusion -- a festering combo of believing she is entitled, placing all men above all other women on the scale of worthiness, and expecting all things will be done for her if she uses the right tools. i overestimated her ability to at least fake conformance to decent social norms -- be thankful for help, offer some reciprocity, consider the needs of others.

but the problem is not that i made mistakes. there is not a man in my universe who would beg and demand so much and then turn on me so viciously. SILfH demonstrates a really toxic perversion of the idea that women are strong and deserving. a real-life troll.

it will not surprise either of you that SILfH's first major relationship ended in a desk-supply-flinging blowout at her work [the desk supplies belonging to her boss], or that she retaliated for being dumped by applying mr. yesterday's waffle iron to his classic record albums. and then she was irate because he sued her.

Posted by: kathy a at December 1, 2006 06:34 PM

In case you care, this post did, in fact, inspire me to think and write more about blowjobs. Which, trust me, is a compliment.

Posted by: narya at December 3, 2006 06:03 PM

Why, thank you, I think. "Voluntary" is all the difference, of course, and isn't it interesting how closely one must look to figure out just how voluntary anything we do might be.

And there's always the interesting sort to be done among reflex, instinct, need, habit, exhausted acquiescense, duty, favors, and, dare I say it, ritual.

Posted by: Ron at December 3, 2006 06:32 PM

kathy -- waffle iron???!!! Oh my lackofgod. That's the kind of thing that turns up in blues lyrics. Serious PITA when someone actually does it. Grimly amusing when she forgets that,unlike a blues song, something will still happen after she decides her own stanza's been written.

Posted by: Ron at December 3, 2006 06:34 PM