Friday, February 24, 2012

Happy Barfentine's Day!

[Content/Trigger Warning: fat shaming, gender policing]

I think what's most amusing about conservative men who advocate for "traditional gender roles" is how utterly corny, trite, and "one size fits all" their ideas of Heterosexual Romance are.

Which makes sense.

When dude thinks most men are inherently non-romantic juvenile sex fiends and that most women are sexually-repressed mommy-wives whose idea of the Perfect Valentine's Day is to receive chocolates, a card, and flowers followed by a night of cuddles by candlelight, there just aren't many narratives available for him to come up with something more... tailored to actual people's actual interests.

Not that the above scenario is unappealing to all women. But to think that's what all, or even most, women want just because they're women and that's what women want? Kind of clueless and lazy.

See, when a man is limited by his own refusal to recognize the reality that few people's hopes, desires, sex drives, and ideas of romance fit tidily into "pink" and "blue" boxes, his advice by necessity is going to be "one size fits all." But, in reality, one size never fits all.

So what ends up happening is that dude tries to write an advice column to The Ladies that ends up being as resonate as a group of drunk, white Republican men engaging in what the kids call "rapping" on stage at cocktail hour after their panel on "blah" people and welfare.

Take our friend Playful Walrus (PW), who took a break from pecking out another anti-LGBT, anti-immigrant, anti-union, anti-poor, pro-rich, pro-corporate screeds (Just Like Jesus Would Do!) to write a "handy-dandy" guide on how the [heterosexual married] ladies can make Valentine's Day enjoyable for their husbands, all of whom apparently hate the holiday.

He begins, by of course explaining things to the ladypeople:

"There are many reasons why most men do not enjoy Valentine's Day.

Men tend to be practical when it comes to money. You expect him to blow money on overpriced chocolates, flowers, jewelry, gifts, dinners in crowded restaurants, hotel rooms, etc."

Oh we do, do we?

Scratch that. Of course PW isn't talking about women like me. (Whisper: The homosexualist kind). He's talking about The Real Women. The heterosexuals.

That being said, here's a little newsflash: Banal marketing aimed at women during Valentine's Day isn't necessarily a reflection of women's actual expectations surrounding this holiday.

He continues, not only are all women apparently entitled, superficial gold-diggers, we're fat, and therefore don't deserve chocolate anyway:

"Chocolates? They'll be gone soon, and frankly, most American women don't need the extra calories. That's a fact, since 2/3rds are overweight and half of those are obese."

Indeed, a man's just better off buying his bride from overseas. Where the women don't sit around eating whole boxes of chocolates all day long while he's at work. And as for flowers?

"They'll be dried and withered soon."

*sad trombone*

Speaking of things that are suddenly "dried and withered" after reading this post, PW's views on sexual obligations sound... really... swell (#Ohdearhispoorwife):

"Men show they love their woman year-round by paying the bills, by protecting her, and by doing many other things, often including lifting heavy objects, opening things, reaching for things, removing scary things, doing fix-its on the home and vehicles. Do you show your love for him by respecting him, keeping yourself together, keeping his stomach full, making love to him as often as he wants it without dropping things he enjoys off of the menu, being a smart shopper, and doing domestic chores (if he is the breadwinner)? These things may not be important to you, but they are likely important to him." (emphasis added)

Okay. Gross.

The more unthinking accounts and "how-to guides" of "traditional marriage" I read, the more they sound like planted PR campaigns against marriage and heterosexuality.

Under PW's view of proper hetero relations, men essentially buy sex and housekeeping from their wives by being the "breadwinner." PW tosses the word "love" around, but he doesn't seem to be talking about love. What he is talking about is a commercial exchange of goods and services.

Under this view of marriage, a man doesn't want in equal partner in life, he wants a domestic/sex worker who he deserves things from because of all his hard work. Andrea Dworkin famously noted that, "[Right-wing women] see that traditional marriage means selling [sex] to one man, not hundreds: the better deal." PW's version of marriage seems to be a case in point of marriage as an exchange rather than a partnership.

Happy Valentine's Day! *Swoon*

You know, in my experience interacting with conservatives, many of them have a certain worldview regarding How The World Is that they insist is some sort of "universally generalizable" truth for all people for all of history. This view often posits that men are the breadwinners who pay bills, protect their wives, lift heavy stuff and, in return, deserve blow jobs from their no-fun wives whenever they get boners.

Any actual women, men, and relationships in the real world who deviate from this worldview- gay men, lesbians, trans* people, heterosexuals in egalitarian relationships, gender non-conformists- are dismissed as strange anomalies from reality, too few in number to count. Inauthentic. If one points out the existence of these "deviations" from the conservative worldview, one is frequently accused of making these experiences up as part of a Marxist-Feminist plot against "reality." As though our very existences are not a part of reality.

It's quite something, really. To deny and erase the existence and experiences of millions of people who have different experiences with gender and marriage just because it doesn't fit into one's romanticized narrative of how the world is and how amaaaaaaaayzing man-woman marriage is for all people everywhere ever in history.

I mean, I have no doubt that for some people, these "traditional" performances of gender and marriage work and exist. But I am equally confident that that for lots of other people, this traditional gender narrative is completely subverted, completely abusive, and that there's lots of gray area in between. And that's okay to acknowledge. People don't have to have the same experience with marriage and gender. How is it even reasonable to insist or expect that they would?

Why acknowledging that reality is met with such resistance I have no idea.


For some reason, PW puts a parting shot in very small print and parentheses at the end of his post. Like he doesn't have the courage to fully commit to the assholery it contains:

"(There are unfeminine women reading this scoffing that anyone still believes in gender roles. I guarantee you they are not making any man's Valentine's Day enjoyable.)"

LOL. Okay, playa.

Like many an anti-feminist, PW does not seem to understand his ideological opponents. He certainly doesn't understand feminist critique. Therefore, it's understandable as to why he would think that only "unfeminine" women would be "scoffing" at his post, as opposed to, say, lots of women of varying degrees of femininity. I laugh at the strawdyke version of his critics that must be dancing around his uninspired noggin.

His ignorance also explains why he can't even articulate what it is that his critics would "scoff" at regarding his post. What does it even mean to "believe in gender roles"? He thinks we don't "believe in" them? We're not talking about Santa Claus here. Sigh.

Lastly, his ignorance allows him to operate under the assumption that his critics, presumably feminists, would think it's a Big Time Insult to be told that we're not sufficiently enjoyable, feminine, and hawt to heterosexual men.

As though he, via Internet Telepathy, can not only ascertain our femininity levels, beauty, sexual skillz, and worth as human beings, but that he is also the Big Decider of what is and isn't enjoyable to all men on Earth.


The biggest failing of so many anti-feminists isn't that they're assholes, which many of them indeed are, but that they so utterly fail at understanding feminism or what it is they're even objecting so strenuously to.

1 comment:

Janey said...

Did you notice, too, that he tells us that the traditional 'feminine' version of Valentines Day isn't what men want then craps on at the end about how us unfeminine women are ruining it for them. So which us? Apparently just being female is enough to ruin a guy's Valentines Day.