Howdy! Here’s a roundup of some interesting conversations happening on the interwebs this week. There’s real stemwinder of a rant at the end, friends, so click “continue reading” only if you think you’ve got the guts.
- Echidne has a great roundup of her own about periodic marriage panics. She notes, “[t]he panic is always about women. Men never panic about marriage, never, but women do. And so does the society in general.” Which is your favorite fake marriage panic statistic? Mine is the one from the late 80s about how unmarried women at age 40 have as much chance of being married as being blown up in a terrorist attack. (That one was funnier before 9/11/2001, I guess.) The media and culture at large always worry about heterosexual women who don’t marry, but instead of asking what it is about marriage that some women don’t like, they assign the blame to the women. Cherchez la femme, mes amis! Toujours, cherchez la femme!
- Could someone please explain to me how anyone could have possibly thought the author of Oleanna to be a “liberal?” Apparently, David Mamet believes his plays are popular because they refuse to “coddle our preconceptions” and instead “shock us into seeing the world as it really is.” Mamet’s “reality” is apparently a world in which sexual harassment is something imagined by neurotic, malign young women and a tool by which they oppress men. I’ve said it before, and I’m darned sure I’ll say it again: I’ve got yer tool right here, pal.
- Knitting Clio has a brief summary and comment on the fake outrage of the internets this week, women who achieve pregnancy through IVF and then have abortions. She asks, “What about the millions of women who are denied access to abortion because it’s not covered by Medicaid (and under the new “health reform” package will not be covered by private health insurance either)? Or the millions of women whose choices to reproduce are constrained by economic circumstances, or if they do find the resources to reproduce, are condemned as being ‘selfish’?”
Don’t you get it, KC? What women do is always selfish! It’s always about us, isn’t it? We’re selfish if we have children, who in the U.S. and Canada will likely grow up to own their own refrigerators and cars someday, and how can we possibly do that to the planet! We’re selfish if we don’t have children, because having disposable income and the liberty to travel and do something else interesting in our 30s, 40s, and 50s doesn’t seem fair to people with kids! (And what’s really unfair is that people who are child-free by choice have happier marriages, too!) We’re selfish if we’re poor and have children, an outrage not just to our children but to society at large. We’re selfish if we use drugs or technology to get pregnant, and we’re selfish if we accidentally become pregnant when so many others who are so much more deserving can’t get pregnant. We’re selfish if we choose to go through with these pregnancies, and we’re selfish if we choose to have abortions. Selfish is the insult hurled at women who dare to think they’re the authors of their own lives. Even lesbians these days now have to defend themselves whether or not they have children! What once was a get-out-of-children-free card is no longer the same: right-wingers think lesbians with children are selfish, and pro-gay marriage left-wingers want lesbians to explain themselves if they don’t have kids.
How else would society at large get us to do loads of unpaid or drastically underpaid work, if we weren’t afraid of being accused of being selfish all of the time? Think about it, friends: How many of you women out there are motivated to do what you’re doing every minute of the day because you don’t want to appear selfish? How many of you check in on FaceBook and blogs and leave comments or answer all your e-mail first thing because you don’t want any of your correspondents thinking that you’re not in touch? How many of you spend hours on student papers and reading your friends’ book manuscripts or article drafts before you’d dream of sitting down to write yourself? How many of you have picked up thankless, reward-free service tasks at work because you don’t want your colleagues thinking that you’re not pulling your weight? (This is especially true for women with children, who fear that they’ll be blamed for checking out of work because of their children, as well as especially true for women who don’t have children, who will be thought extra super-selfish because they don’t have human children to look after.)
Our fears of selfishness aren’t just about work outside the home now, are they? How many of you make sure the house is tidy and the kitchen is clean before going to work out, because you wouldn’t want anyone thinking that you’re putting your body and well-being ahead of anything else? How many of you always take the crumbly, weird first piece of pie or the smallest helping of something, out of deference even to your family members (let alone guests)? How many of you eat the leftover food off of your children’s plates rather than take a hot, fresh helping of dinner for yourself?
How many of you would dare to stop taking care of everyone else and just do your own thing for an hour, a day, or a whole weekend without thinking of other people’s needs? And how many of you would judge a woman friend of yours selfish for doing just that?