Woman: fetch food. November 6, 2007 7:28 PM   Subscribe

This AskMe seems to be raising a kerfuffle, understandably. It's a very polarized subject; perhaps worth bringing to the attention of those who don't frequent AskMe? languagehat made a quite worthwhile comment.
posted by fish tick to MetaFilter-Related at 7:28 PM (369 comments total)

langugehat's comment was treading the "don't insult other people in the AskMe thread" line pretty closely. If more people do pay attention to that thread, I hope they will try to act decent. Anony threads are hard because the OP often doesn't chime back in and people make all sorts of wild ass assumptions about their motivations.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:36 PM on November 6, 2007


Out of all the great comments, you choose languagehat's arrogant drivel?
posted by milarepa at 7:40 PM on November 6, 2007 [3 favorites]


I saw that, but I stayed out of it. Although the request strikes me as wildly offensive and degrading, it is apparently anonymous' boyfriend's cultural heritage.

Consequently, there wasn't anything I could say that would be both open-minded and true to my own feelings on the matter.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 7:50 PM on November 6, 2007


There are 126 responses to what is, at heart, a yes-or-no question. I'm not sure how badly it needs to be brought to anyone else's attention.
posted by Partial Law at 8:11 PM on November 6, 2007 [2 favorites]


Yeah; this kind of question and thread is why I dislike AskMe, which should (IMHO) have been a place for concrete, factual information and not everyone's freaking opinion on unanswerable topics.
posted by yhbc at 8:13 PM on November 6, 2007


kerfuffle has now entered my personal lexicon.
posted by The Deej at 8:14 PM on November 6, 2007


“langugehat's comment was treading the ‘don't insult other people in the AskMe thread’ line pretty closely.”

The men in that thread who are saying that it's no big deal and that it's selfish to refuse to accommodate this offensive family tradition are fuckwits and deserve to be insulted and possibly kept under house arrest and not allowed to own property or to vote.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 8:15 PM on November 6, 2007 [23 favorites]


Where do people get the idea that cultures are monolithic or static? I should imagine the very Latin Mujeres Libres weren't so swift on the turkey-passing.
posted by Abiezer at 8:15 PM on November 6, 2007 [2 favorites]


this kind of question and thread is why I like AskMe, which should not (IMHO) be a place simply for factual information. You round up 126 opinions on a subject with reasons and you provide a pretty good background against which a decision can be made. The fact that the question has no black or white answer should not disqualify it. Life is full of subtle shades of gray and navigating that is tougher than finding the black and white answers.
posted by caddis at 8:18 PM on November 6, 2007 [13 favorites]


oh, and languagehat got it just right
posted by caddis at 8:19 PM on November 6, 2007 [3 favorites]


languagehat: "anon, you should do what feels right to you, balancing the desire not to seem like an asshole to his family against the desire not to be a chattel servant (which is what a wife is in "traditional" cultures)."

This kind of oversimplification and sweeping generalization about "traditional cultures" does not seem like "quite a worthwhile comment" to me.
posted by sotalia at 8:20 PM on November 6, 2007 [3 favorites]


deserve to be insulted and possibly kept under house arrest and not allowed to own property or to vote.

I'm assuming this is hyperbole, and I'm not pointing a finger at you EB, but I want to make one thing straight for the record. While anyone is welcome to have a personal opinion on who does or does not deserve bad treatment as a result of the way they think or write about certain issues, that doesn't fly here.

If you can't act civil in AskMe, you come to MetaTalk, take it to email or MeFiMail, or keep quiet. There are too many people who come to Meta complaining that a comment was removed when all they were doing was giving some misguided person what they (so "rightly") deserved. That's crappy small-minded thinking and not how we do things here.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:21 PM on November 6, 2007 [9 favorites]


Okay, we agree to disagree.

* mouth agape, palms to cheeks *

Quick! Take it to Ask MetaFilter!!! They'll know what to do!!!
posted by yhbc at 8:21 PM on November 6, 2007 [1 favorite]


that was to caddis
posted by yhbc at 8:22 PM on November 6, 2007


Etherial Bligh: Earlier, I asked my wife about this. She responded pretty much as you describe. Can I place her under house arrest? I hope so...then I might be able to get her to cook me dinner!
posted by milarepa at 8:24 PM on November 6, 2007 [1 favorite]


Can you have her bring me some turkey while she's up? A little cranberry sauce would be nice too.
posted by ND¢ at 8:29 PM on November 6, 2007 [1 favorite]


So...is this a callout? Or did you just not have anything to contribute to the original thread, but thought it'd be fun to argue the subject AGAIN, but with less answer-y goodness?
posted by desuetude at 8:31 PM on November 6, 2007 [1 favorite]


You got. You might want to look through it for broken glass though. She didn't look too happy when I told her the news.
posted by milarepa at 8:31 PM on November 6, 2007


I like a kerfluffle, and I vote!
posted by Floydd at 8:32 PM on November 6, 2007


“She responded pretty much as you describe. Can I place her under house arrest?”

There's probably some other appropriate punishment. The contexts are different, but that doesn't make her any less wrong than you.

“That's crappy small-minded thinking and not how we do things here.”

Well, it is how we do things here. I think a blanket ban on such normative judgments in AskMe is a good idea and the right thing to do, but up to this point there has always been a line across which the community and the mods allow normative, judgmental and insulting comments in AskMe. I have, in fact, seen you respond exactly this way in AskMe. I'm pretty sure it was to someone who made a sexist comment or question in AskMe, but I can't recall details.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 8:32 PM on November 6, 2007


I'm pretty sure Ethereal Bligh killed Abe Lincoln, but I can't recall details.
posted by Partial Law at 8:36 PM on November 6, 2007 [1 favorite]


What makes you think I agree with her? I fall on your side of the fence, I think...there's just less bullshit calls for censorship over here.
posted by milarepa at 8:38 PM on November 6, 2007


OP: It's called pussywhipping. Learn it.

*snicker* I'm so bad.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 8:41 PM on November 6, 2007 [2 favorites]


I think the problem here isn't so much serving turkey once a year, it's the idea that this is some serious foreshadowing of some serious problems later on. Like this guy is starting off all enlightened and is going to become more and more demanding as they get married. I think that happens a lot with guys who have traditional mindsets. I mean it's a story I hear again and again.

I've also known girls who dated assholes and I drove me nuts that these beautiful girls were dating these assholes. UGH. I just hate those possessive, controlling motherfuckers!

So who knows, maybe that guy is a saint and this is a one-time quirk, but the question is so evocative of those relationships i was aware of in the past, and I can't help but get upset with this guy.
posted by delmoi at 8:45 PM on November 6, 2007 [1 favorite]


there has always been a line across which the community and the mods allow normative, judgmental and insulting comments

My point is that defending jerkish AskMe comments by saying that someone deserved them because of their general poor character isn't tolerated. We can play "I saw you break the rules once" all we want, but as a general guideline it's a pretty solid one.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:47 PM on November 6, 2007 [1 favorite]


Yes, "kerfuffle"is the new replacement for "conflagration".

True story: I once had a roommate who felt it was extremely misogynistic that I believed it was wrong to hit a woman and said I would never do that. Discuss.
posted by baphomet at 8:49 PM on November 6, 2007


oh, this explains why stavros, delmoi, eb all showed up out of nowhere, posse-style.
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:53 PM on November 6, 2007 [1 favorite]


“I'm pretty sure Ethereal Bligh killed Abe Lincoln, but I can't recall details.”

Hey, you know what the difference is between what I said and what you said? You know what you said isn't true while I honestly believe what I said is true. Which makes the two statements very different and your comparison both absurd and in bad-faith.

I have a particular comment of jessamyn's in mind. I recall that it's one or two sentences and occurred within the first few comments in the thread. I recall thinking to myself that it's interesting that in that particular case she felt it was appropriate to come down hard on whomever she was responding to. But I don't remember the topic, other than a vague sense that it was involving sexism, and I don't even remember how long ago it was. Probably in the last year, but perhaps not. There's simply no way to find the comment, she makes far too many AskMe comments for me to find it without remembering what the question was about.

At any rate, obviously her lack of perfection is not a valid refutation of the policy she articulates. The real world is messy and the admins are imperfect.

But there's always been some incoherence between this policy and how it's enforced, both by the admins and by the community. It seems like the rule is that you accept the questioner's point of view and just answer the question, and you respectfully disagree with other answerers and in all cases you are respectful of others...except when some undefined threshold of provocation/offensiveness is crossed and then it's okay.

“What makes you think I agree with her? I fall on your side of the fence, I think...there's just less bullshit calls for censorship over here.”

Oh, apologies, then, for my mistaken assumption. At any rate, I've not called for censorship. Who has, exactly, called for censorship?
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 8:53 PM on November 6, 2007 [2 favorites]


baphomet: what insolence! i sure hope you taught her a lesson she'll never forget!
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:54 PM on November 6, 2007


The men in that thread who are saying that it's no big deal

Who said it wasn't a big deal? Did anyone in that thread say, boy, Anonymous, get over yourself, and while you're at it, make your future husband and me a sandwich? And if so, could someone link me to that comment? Because I saw plenty of reasonable comments from people (not just men, but women as well) who said, Thanksgiving is one day and it might be worth it to bit the bullet on that one day for a number of reasons, but be sure to figure out the bigger issues. Not every battle needs to be a war, and I respect those who were able to distinguish between the two parts of the question.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:56 PM on November 6, 2007 [8 favorites]


Which makes the two statements very different and your comparison both absurd and in bad-faith.

Yeah, I was hanging out with Absurd, and Bad Faith just came barreling out of nowhere and tackled the both of us. Although in all fairness, I've never seen you and John Wilkes Booth in the same place at the same time.
posted by Partial Law at 8:59 PM on November 6, 2007 [1 favorite]


Languagehat's wasn't the best comment - I would have highlighted the few that came from experiences with Latins.

The question is a good one but it's poorly laid out and actually is only slightly better than chatfilter. It's also the kind of question that Ask.me is useless at answering but it does make for some entertaining reading while people are wasting their nights infront of the TV.
posted by Stynxno at 9:01 PM on November 6, 2007


Of course it's wrong to hit women - they may well end up hitting you back. Pick them off from a distance. Shoot and scoot, boys.
posted by Abiezer at 9:03 PM on November 6, 2007 [3 favorites]


“I once had a roommate who felt it was extremely misogynistic that I believed it was wrong to hit a woman and said I would never do that.”

She confused misogynistic with sexist.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 9:08 PM on November 6, 2007


The men in that thread who are saying that it's no big deal and that it's selfish to refuse to accommodate this offensive family tradition are fuckwits and deserve to be insulted and possibly kept under house arrest and not allowed to own property or to vote.

Wow! Who got up on the wrong side of the bed this morning? If it's a once-a-year thing (which apparently I got wrong, but I'll continue on that assumption) then it can be put down as just some kinda quirky whatever that this family does for whatever reason. Don't the men in american families traditionally carve the turkey? Is that because women can't be trusted with knives? I sure hope you take up your lance & attack that windmill, too. Or certain hindu families, in which only men can carve pumpkin, because that vegetable was once used as a substitute for sacrifices in Kali worship? Strike that one down! Not sure about making mum breakfast in bed on mothers' day, either. In fact, mothers' day is a pretty sexist concept overall, as is fathers' day. And I'll sure be having words with my Italian friend's aunt, next time she tries to dish out food onto my plate when we eat over there.

C'mon, lighten the fuck up! Not every tradition has to be evil & harmful, even if there are disparities in gender roles. Sometimes it's just a form of codified politeness, like opening a door for a woman. You might personally find it silly & archaic, but it's a very long way from being the end of the world.

I would, for example, have had very different things to say if the situation described was like what (poor) indians do: the woman cooks & serves, the men eat, and she only eats after they have had their fill, and only if there is anything left.

(Also, I have no idea whether americans generally attack the food on the table like pigs at a trough, but it's reasonably typical elsewhere in the world for somebody to take control & actually serve the food. Normally, it's known as being the host, and it's a respected role. Maybe you just don't have that kind of old-world formality...?)
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:13 PM on November 6, 2007 [7 favorites]


A brouhaha's better than a kerfuffle anyday. An Ask thread which foments a brouhaha is definitely worth a mention in the grey.
posted by bunglin jones at 9:15 PM on November 6, 2007


True story: I once had a roommate who felt it was extremely misogynistic that I believed it was wrong to hit a woman and said I would never do that.

Sounds like you're preparing an excuse for when some woman kicks your ass.

Now if I were in a situation where I felt hitting someone was the right thing to do, I don't think I would take their gender into account. I mean if a half-mad PCP addled woman was charging at me with a half broken beer bottle, I might just take a swing at her. You wouldn't?
posted by delmoi at 9:23 PM on November 6, 2007


Would I hit a woman?

It depends on the woman.
posted by spaltavian at 9:25 PM on November 6, 2007


Would I hit a woman? It depends on the woman.

Equality at last!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:26 PM on November 6, 2007 [5 favorites]


Eh, I was all ready with englightened answer in hand but the 131 comments wore me down.
posted by liquorice at 9:30 PM on November 6, 2007


And ruined my spelling as well, clearly.
posted by liquorice at 9:31 PM on November 6, 2007


Would I hit a woman?

It depends on the woman.


Yeh, sometimes you can be like "I'd hit that!" but with others, it's all "Agh! Back to the Loch with you, Nessie!"
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:34 PM on November 6, 2007 [14 favorites]


“Who said it wasn't a big deal?”

Hmm.

In the end it is not a huge deal...

and...

No, it's not [worth making a stand] . Every family has it's traditions and this is theres and if this is your first Thanksgiving with them I think it's enormously disrespectful to essentlally say ‘Fuck you’ while you're in their home, over a plate of frigging turkey.”

and...

“‘Look, it's a plate of turkey. Serving him a plate of turkey is not some gateway drug to becoming a domestic servant.’

How can I favorite something ten times over? Exactly.”


and...

“These are things that implicitly take place in certain social settings and cultures and unless there's a true bigotry underlying the practice, it's not worth making a fuss about.”

and...

“This question makes me angry. You sound petulant and ungrateful. If I was invited into somebody's home on a day of blessing I would drop my insecurities and fears about potentially misogynistic traditions at the door. Or at least until I have valid reason to worry.”

and...

So what if it’s the women serving the men, it’s a time to drink in the satisfaction of showing an outward expression of love. How often do you have the opportunity to do this?”

and...

“The dinner thing seems to me like no big deal because, well, that's the way those dinners generally go in Latin America...”

and...

“Seriously, my gut reaction to this centres around storms in teacups, mountains out of molehills, tilting at windmills (again), and seems to exude an inappropriate self-righteousness, given the context.”
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 9:34 PM on November 6, 2007 [6 favorites]


all very reasonable-sounding comments, unless you have a massive chip on your shoulder.
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:43 PM on November 6, 2007 [5 favorites]


Sounds like you're preparing an excuse for when some woman kicks your ass.

Who needs an excuse? That doesn't sound half bad.

I mean if a half-mad PCP addled woman was charging at me with a half broken beer bottle, I might just take a swing at her. You wouldn't?

You can subdue someone without striking them.
posted by baphomet at 9:52 PM on November 6, 2007


All of those quotes are people saying the dinner isn't that big of a deal. Because the dinner isn't that big of a deal. The other stuff, yes, of course, the dinner itself, not so much. Battles vs. wars.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:53 PM on November 6, 2007 [1 favorite]


jessamyn, I'd don't see what's trading the line about languagehat's comment. It seemed spot on to me.

Could explain this to an obtuse old canuck?
posted by timeistight at 9:53 PM on November 6, 2007 [1 favorite]


* defers to TPS *

that battles v wars model sums it up really nicely.

i was thinking of it as "is this the tip of a massive iceberg of patriarchy?" - where you stand on the serving of the turkey probably depends on what assumptions you've made about the existence or non-existence of the iceberg.

the answer for the other thread would probably be "concede the battle - it would be a pyrrhic victory anyway - but continue to fight the war (if there is one)"
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:00 PM on November 6, 2007


Yeah, doing things because you want to is fun, doing things because you're expected to is not, film at 11 and WHERE'S MY DAMN TURKEY, WOMAN?
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 10:04 PM on November 6, 2007


It's a very polarized subject

Indeed. Thanksgiving in November? Get with the winning team, you limp-dollared slackers!
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:10 PM on November 6, 2007 [1 favorite]


Just another example of how relationshipfilter is completely worthless. There is no way of answering the question without knowing the specifics of the relationship. And there is no way of us knowing that even if the asker represents the relationship in an accurate way, which I am guessing is very rare.

Relaitionshipfilter may be fun to read, but it is very rarely helpful and a lot of times I think it is actually harmful to the initial asker.
posted by afu at 10:19 PM on November 6, 2007


I'm assuming this comment was serious and that makes it pretty much the most disgusting comment in that thread, and was apparently made by a woman.

"You sound petulant and ungrateful...take the positive in people and traditions, and enjoy the blessings you have been given."

Yeah, the OP should just be grateful she found someone willing to put up with her, she should just shut up and do what she's told.
posted by puke & cry at 10:22 PM on November 6, 2007


if a half-mad PCP addled woman was charging at me with a half broken beer bottle, I might just take a swing at her. You wouldn't?

Fuck no. I'd run the fuck away. What're you, nuts?
posted by dersins at 10:32 PM on November 6, 2007 [8 favorites]


I really wanted to respond to this, as it is something I've had quite a lot of experience with. But I refrained because it was on e of those situations where the stated question is one thing, but if you were actually having a conversation with a friend over coffee, you'd see pretty quickly that the Real question is something else.

Whenever this is the case, things devolve rather quickly. Reading into things on the internet is always a tricky proposition. When it comes to AskMe it always seems wise to stick to the literal reading of the question asked.

Halfway through that thread the thought popped into my head that the question should be put on hold until the OP responded with a clarification as to which question she really wanted an answer to:

A) how to deal with the actual thanksgiving dinner, or

B) What does this sort of tradition mean to my relationship down the road in regards to gender roles and expectations?

Two very different discussions, If I were to answer each one seperately, I'd probably give conflicting answers.

And I guess this is a good a place as any to state that lately the lack of cultural awareness displayed on this site lately has been bugging the hell out of me. This thread and the lynching thread are good examples of topics in which people on both sides of the discussion seem to have a startling lack of awareness that there are people participating in these discussions and on this site who are not White American males. Which isn't to say that only people from whatever gender, race, or culture being discussed can be authoritative. It just comes off as arrogant when anyone assumes their specific viewpoint as some sort of normative default.
posted by billyfleetwood at 10:41 PM on November 6, 2007 [9 favorites]


“And I guess this is a good a place as any to state that lately the lack of cultural awareness displayed on this site lately has been bugging the hell out of me. This thread and the lynching thread are good examples of topics in which people on both sides of the discussion seem to have a startling lack of awareness that there are people participating in these discussions and on this site who are not White American males.”

I'm perfectly aware of the cultural context, as well as of the fact that there are people participating in the discussion who are not white, American males. It's presumptuous of you to assume that I am not.

But I don't believe that cultural relativism trumps anti-sexism or anti-racism or a number of other values which I believe are universal. It's not arrogant to believe that women everywhere have a right not to be treated as subservient to men.

What are the limits to your concessions in the name of cultural awareness? Would you argue for tolerance of sex-segregated dining rooms in this context? How about race-segregated dining rooms? Or that women were not allowed to talk during the meal? That they must sit at the feet of the men? That homosexuals aren't welcome at the gathering?

If you are a consistent cultural relativist who would be taking the same position in those cases are you are in this one, then good on ya' for being intellectually rigorous. I will respectfully disagree.

But if you draw the line somewhere, then you have no basis upon which to argue that someone drawing the line elsewhere is “culturally insensitive”.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 11:11 PM on November 6, 2007 [7 favorites]


How is this question different from the one about the Catholic wedding?
posted by Chuckles at 11:19 PM on November 6, 2007


I mean, don't we live in a world where some women get offended by "misogynistic traditions" like serving the husband first - and then some women just take it in stride? I don't think it's fair to condemn one attitude over another. You can act "accordingly" in public, to appease a loved one, and yet maintain different beliefs in private. Then again, you can make an issue out of it. And if you're in a good relationship, you should be able to work through issues like this. Don't be afraid to bring it up, for goodness sake. But on the other hand, I mean, come on - we've been together three years [... and now] somehow the fact that I have a vagina means his needs supercede mine? How the hell did you get from A to B on that one?

And as a side note, whether cultural relativism is a tenable, intact philosophy is one thing - but hey, the human condition can be lead us to hold complicated views that aren't necessarily universally sound, but may be socially generated and accepted, and therefore, to some limited extent, justified. I tolerate, for example, Muslim colleagues that invite me to dinner with the understanding that women eat in one room, and men eat in another. I would not, however, tolerate a similar situation that segregated guests by race. And yet I'm not sure if this seeming hypocrisy makes me any less, or any more, of a cultural relativist. Go figure.
posted by phaedon at 11:20 PM on November 6, 2007


I very much agree with EB. I'm white and male too, though fortunately not American (ho, ho). I've spent more than half my adult life as an ethnic minority in an alien culture or two and have some appreciation for the diversity of cultural traditions. That informs politics (and gender equality like any human equality is a matter of politics for me) but doesn't trump it as far as I'm concerned.
There's a sense in which it seems a little patronising to assume I'd hold one group of people to a different standard than another - political progress is something the white West can debate, but everyone else is obviously only capable of replicating tradition.
I accept there can be some dubious dynamics over who gets to argue with who in certain cases, but by and large, fuck it.
posted by Abiezer at 11:28 PM on November 6, 2007 [3 favorites]


But if you draw the line somewhere, then you have no basis upon which to argue that someone drawing the line elsewhere is “culturally insensitive”.

There can be no such thing as an absolute relativist, obviously.
posted by Chuckles at 11:33 PM on November 6, 2007


What are the limits to your concessions in the name of cultural awareness? Would you argue for tolerance of sex-segregated dining rooms in this context? How about race-segregated dining rooms? Or that women were not allowed to talk during the meal? That they must sit at the feet of the men? That homosexuals aren't welcome at the gathering?

If you are a consistent cultural relativist who would be taking the same position in those cases are you are in this one, then good on ya' for being intellectually rigorous. I will respectfully disagree.


There's the rub. While I also get a bit annoyed at affluent whiteys assuming that their cultural model should apply equally to all (and it seems to be white american women, not men, who are more eager to criticise perceived sexism in other cultures, by the way), the question of where to draw the line is a tough one, and finding a point of balance between traditions & western liberalism is not always going to be easy.

As I said earlier, I wouldn't be all that comfortable with a traditional Indian model, where the women wait until the men have finished eating before they can salvage what they can from the scraps. On the other hand, merely serving up some food falls more on the OK side of the line, I feel. The question might be to what extent it really harms or puts out the person who is expected to play the role.

As an example, a friend is marrying a Taiwanese girl. She always takes it upon herself to serve up food at the table, even though we find this more of an annoyance than if she let us serve ourselves. It doesn't mean she goes without. It just means that she's always playing the hostess, as her mother did, and as asian women at my workplace similarly ensure that everybody's jasmine tea is topped up whenever we eat out at yum cha. No great skin off anybody's nose, so far as I can tell.

In my own cultural or family context, the women normally get together to make up a whole bunch of gingerbread cookies every christmas. It's just part of what they do, and nobody really seems to consider it much of an issue that the men don't do this baking. It's just a kinda tradition that nobody thinks twice about. I'm sure that if some american or whatever wandered in & made a big show about not participating & asking why the men don't bake the cookies instead, then everybody would think her a bit of an idiot, not much of a team player & somebody who makes a great big unnecessary fuss over something that everybody else is ok with.

I guess that's where I'm coming from - these things are not necessarily offensive & demeaning tasks, unless you approach a whole cultural / family thing with a different set of blinkers, and think that everything should be all about individualistic choice, and every man or woman for themselves. Sometimes it's nice to just go with the flow and accept that some things you just do, or don't do.
posted by UbuRoivas at 11:38 PM on November 6, 2007 [3 favorites]


Ubu - but it's also annoying to claim that women's equality is a matter of Western liberalism. Women who aren't white or western (and men too of course) have played a part in that historically and do so today.
That's the kind of cultural relativism that does interest me - where people from other backgrounds share the same goal or moral position, it's interesting to see what brought them there, and to hold your own views up against that - that way you get a model that's more genuinely universal, not just for rich whitey. But I see no sense in abandoning fundamental principles.
posted by Abiezer at 11:47 PM on November 6, 2007 [1 favorite]


So, basically what you're saying is: It's sexist but no one really thinks about it and we're happy with our gendered roles and don't try and tell us otherwise.
posted by liquorice at 11:47 PM on November 6, 2007 [2 favorites]


as asian women at my workplace similarly ensure that everybody's jasmine tea is topped up whenever we eat out at yum cha. No great skin off anybody's nose, so far as I can tell.

Whenever I'm out for Chinese food with people, I often take this job on myself. I'm not quite quick enough to get there before some older Chinese women, but certainly fast enough that I end up pouring for younger women. I'm not sure what said Chinese women think of it, but white people think I'm being strange..
posted by Chuckles at 11:49 PM on November 6, 2007


Ya, that got a little mangled in editing.. I guess it is time for bed.
posted by Chuckles at 11:51 PM on November 6, 2007


Well the kerfuffle seems to have passed and even the brouhaha - shall we move on to a donnybrook?
posted by Abiezer at 12:42 AM on November 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


Chuckles - I too have followed suit with the tea-pouring.

Abiezer - my example of cookies was a bit trivial, admittedly. In our multicultural society, there's plenty of artistic & documentary output about younger women from subcontinental, middle eastern & asian backgrounds resisting the older traditions. I hope that I don't trivialise struggles against age-old gender roles, but at the same time there's still respect on my part for people who are ok with those roles. I'm certainly not one to jump onto a Marxist-style "false consciousness" argument, which I find immensely patronising. It's quite a fascinating issue, not the least because all the interesting ethical issues involve competing goods, not good v evil battles. When I see people framing things in the latter manner, that's when I feel more greyness is called for.

liquorice - cultural blinkers are interesting things. Why do I, or can I, not wear skirts? (although I have, on occasion, and I'm not talking kilts) - Is it fine for guys to be expected to always wear shorts or trousers, just because nobody notices this as a restriction, because of our unnoticed filters, preconceptions & blinkers?
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:12 AM on November 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


(gotta go cook for the lesbians now, or they'll have my balls)
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:13 AM on November 7, 2007


God, I am so jealous of those who live a life of absolute black and whites, where principles are absolute and everyone else is wrong. Life must be so calm and simple on that planet.
posted by dg at 1:33 AM on November 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


But that's exactly why they're called principles dg - they're the basics you proceed from. Of course, the rub comes as to how you put them into practice, but where there's good will there's usually a compromise that keeps them in tact without the need to be an utter arse. Where there isn't that good will, it may well be time to contest.
posted by Abiezer at 1:45 AM on November 7, 2007


tehloki ftw.
posted by flabdablet at 2:38 AM on November 7, 2007


Also, I have no idea whether americans generally attack the food on the table like pigs at a trough

Ideally, yes. Wal-Mart actually sells disposable "Thanksgiving Day" feeding troughs designed especially for the purpose of consuming massive quantities of starch and fat as quickly and efficiently as possible. Modern troughs have specially designed "flow ridges" to assist in moving pounds of mashed potatos into one's gullet as quickly as possible, and most have integrated splash guards to keep it tidy.

After several people - usually women, as God Himself intended - spend upwards of 8 hours roasting a giant dead bird and cooking numerous, often complicated side dishes, the entire multi-course meal is shoveled into the trough and thoroughly blended. Traditionally the blending was performed by Native Americans, who donned special mocassins made of sweet, salted butter and mashed the dinner into a fine pulp with their noble feet. After performing the Sacred Blending, these noble, drunk Injuns were then either converted from their archaic, heathen ways to Christianity on the spot - or summarily executed and fed to bloodthirsty turkeys, thus fulfilling the circle of life.

Thankfully, this primitive, opressive tradition has evolved, and no longer requires harried housewives to sculpt shoes from butter, freeing up their time for more useful pursuits like how to make even more mashed potatos and stuffing.

Nowadays the blending is done by the ritualistic use of smoky, 2-cycle gas engines burning nothing but the finest, purest baby seal oil.

It's truly a fine sight, that. Dad churning the trough briskly, everyone clamoring with their stuffing-shovels, Mom stirring the backup vat of potatos with a backhoe.

After the traditional gorging there's usually a brief napping period - most often done whilst not watching a football game on the television. (Our football is exactly like your football, except better, because we use our hands and not our feet!)

It's usually considered terribly rude to not partake in the napping - as it's a sign that one hasn't achieved a true food coma, and undoubtably an immigrant or tourist. (Not that we mind immigrants or tourists, really. Immigrants are useful for mowing lawns, and one can always sell useless junk to tourists.)

After the nap we cram pumkin pie and whipped cream in every oriface with the aid of highly ornamented hydraulic machinery.

Goddamnit, now I'm hungry again. Pass the butter.
posted by loquacious at 2:44 AM on November 7, 2007 [15 favorites]


It should be noted that the original poster responded, making things pretty clear.

So all those people who saw this as the first step to him being an asshole patriarch can go fuck off.

As for Bligh and anyone else who chimed in with the "you have penis, you can't possibly understand" comment, I really don't know what to say. Mine and my wife's family is dominated by strong, intelligent women, who nonetheless understand when to wage a war for rights and when to be a bit more reasonable while a guest in someone's house or to just simply fucking ask their SO instead of a crowd of strangers.


Jessamyn, languagehat's comment SHOULD have been nixed, IMO, as it was foul and ugly.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:07 AM on November 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


If she serves him, she damn well better get a foot rub. And I don't mean some weak-ass 5-minute dealie. He better rub them damn dogs for like thirty-five, forty-five minutes.
posted by Eideteker at 4:09 AM on November 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


If she serves him, she damn well better get a foot rub.

It should be noted that the original poster responded, making things pretty clear.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:21 AM on November 7, 2007


Judging by the OP's response, it turns out languagehat doesn't know as much about "traditional cultures" as he thought he did. Shocking!
posted by milarepa at 4:27 AM on November 7, 2007


Ethereal Bligh writes "The men in that thread who are saying that it's no big deal and that it's selfish to refuse to accommodate this offensive family tradition are fuckwits and deserve to be insulted and possibly kept under house arrest and not allowed to own property or to vote."

People who insist that specific cultural and value conflicts are a big deal in some absolute sense deserve to be insulted and possibly kept under house arrest and not allowed to own property or to vote.

Whether it is "a big deal" or not depends entirely on how strongly anonymous (kerfuffled) feels about this. If it's a small deal for her, it's not a big deal for her to accommodate. If it's a huge deal for her, it is a big deal for her to accommodate. There is no win-win situation for the asker. What's important is what makes the asker happy in the long run. If the asker would be happier accommodating, it's incredibly presumptuous to say that they should not do so. If the asker would be happier sticking to her guns, it's incredibly presumptuous to say the converse.
posted by Bugbread at 4:49 AM on November 7, 2007


A brouhaha's better than a kerfuffle anyday. An Ask thread which foments a brouhaha is definitely worth a mention in the grey.
Enough of this hurly burly. Glad the OP feels things will be manageable!
posted by fish tick at 5:19 AM on November 7, 2007


Out of all the great comments, you choose languagehat's arrogant drivel?

it turns out languagehat doesn't know as much about "traditional cultures" as he thought he did. Shocking!

There has been arrogant drivel aplenty in lots of threads (and lh clearly doesn't hold the monopoly on arrogantly drivelling), but I felt that particular comment was worthy of notice. What bothers me is personally directed axe-grinding such as yours.
posted by fish tick at 5:27 AM on November 7, 2007


I dunno, Brandon Blatcher. The OP writes, in her "all's well" update, that "I suspect he does have some unexamined, misogynistic ideas he was raised with". So even if languagehat's comment is a bit over the top, it's not a wholly unreasonable point.
posted by ibmcginty at 5:45 AM on November 7, 2007


jessamyn, I'd don't see what's trading the line about languagehat's comment. It seemed spot on to me.

I think it was this part...

some people seem to have not the vaguest understanding of sexism, gender roles, traditional cultures, or anything beyond "Hey, it's just a plate of turkey!"

If you're really trying to add to the conversation and help encourage understanding, you don't start calling other people in the thread names just because you're annoyed with them because it tends to start arguments which tend to derail the original question/task. I'm annoyed with people in AskMe all the time (and more certain than most that I can comment with relative impunity w/r/t comments) and I don't just go off on people because I'm exasperated, or because I'm certain I'm right, or because they're being crappy and "deserve" whatever upbraiding I'm about to dish out. Maybe I insulted someone once; it's not a bad track record.

So, lh's comment was not cool. However, it wasn't flagged much and by the time I'd seen it it was an inextricable part of a much longer and richer thread.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:46 AM on November 7, 2007


So even if languagehat's comment is a bit over the top, it's not a wholly unreasonable point

I think it boils down to people's personal backgrounds and how that effects their view of the question. The OP's comment,
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:54 AM on November 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


So even if languagehat's comment is a bit over the top, it's not a wholly unreasonable point.
Even if the well is poisoned, it's still got water in it.
posted by Wolfdog at 5:59 AM on November 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


I dunno, Brandon Blatcher. The OP writes, in her "all's well" update, that "I suspect he does have some unexamined, misogynistic ideas he was raised with". So even if languagehat's comment is a bit over the top, it's not a wholly unreasonable point.

It's a wholly unreasonable point to say "Everyone who doesn't agree with me is unable to think correctly."
posted by 23skidoo at 6:04 AM on November 7, 2007


I almost flagged languagehat's comment but by then it had 15 favorites and it seemed a losing battle. Actually, both heavily favorited comments in that thread struck me as icky. I thought this was unfortunate early in the thread and it helped to frame the debate in an unpleasant all-or-nothing way:
I find that the more I compromise, the less I love those who encourage me to do so.
posted by ewkpates at 8:54 AM on November 6 [39 favorites +] [!]
Seriously?
posted by MarkAnd at 6:08 AM on November 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


Well, all four of you have a point.

LH's post was reasonable point, expressed obnoxiously.
posted by ibmcginty at 6:10 AM on November 7, 2007


ok, that was wierd...finishing the comment...

The OP's comment, " In our day to day interactions, he's never made me feel as if I should be subservient to him... ", indicates that LH may have a point in the general sense, but for this specific individual, he's probably wrong.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:10 AM on November 7, 2007


I'm finding this discussion disturbing for a number of reasons. But mostly, it's this:

It's kerfluffle. Not kerfuffle. I understand that both appear in various dictionaries, but in my culture, we say kerfluffle, and if you think there shouldn't be a second "L" in there, well, you've got another thing coming.
posted by rtha at 6:11 AM on November 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


Would I hit a woman?

It depends on the woman.


if she's big enough to kick your ass, reconsider
posted by matteo at 6:54 AM on November 7, 2007


Goddamnit, now I'm hungry again. Pass the butter.

What, you forgot to blend the butter into the trough!!!?
posted by caddis at 6:58 AM on November 7, 2007


In my family we ask that all the women go to someone else's house for Thanksgiving dinner and then we get all high on reefer and play Resident Evil until we twitch.
posted by Divine_Wino at 7:08 AM on November 7, 2007


LH's post was reasonable point, expressed obnoxiously.

Exactly. As soon as I went back to the thread and saw Jessamyn's comment, I realized it was directed in the first instance at me, and that I deserved it. Sorry, Jess, sexism gets my dander up more than just about anything. I'll try to think twice and breathe deeply before hitting Post next time. Thanks for leaving the comment.

But since we're in MetaTalk and not AskMe: Those who think my comment was an appalling "oversimplification," and in particular the asshat who called it "arrogant drivel," can geh kakn afn yam and shtarbn im fremde takhrikhim.
posted by languagehat at 7:26 AM on November 7, 2007


Oh, and rtha is right:
It's kerfluffle. Not kerfuffle.
posted by languagehat at 7:26 AM on November 7, 2007


I find that the more I compromise, the less I love those who encourage me to do so.
posted by ewkpates at 8:54 AM on November 6 [39 favorites +] [!]

Seriously?


I know. That is the most fucking depressing thing I have ever read. Because the day I realized that compromise was more important to my happiness in my relationship than maintaining some dumb idea that you have all the hand was the day I began to have an adult, happy relationship. The fact that there are so many people who favorited that makes me sad.
posted by mckenney at 7:31 AM on November 7, 2007


I've got to think the follow up muddies the question, rather than clarifying.. I mean, if it was clear that this was pressure from the parents, or a necessity to impress the parents, or what have you, I could see it. If it is his idea, presented by him, etc., it seems more problematic. Not that we want to go there at this point..
posted by Chuckles at 7:40 AM on November 7, 2007


What I find really appalling is that not one of you stood up for the poor turkey.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:41 AM on November 7, 2007


* stands up for cortex *
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:43 AM on November 7, 2007 [5 favorites]


I don't understand what the turkey has to complain about, it gets served first.
posted by Chuckles at 7:51 AM on November 7, 2007 [5 favorites]


What I find really appalling is that not one of you stood up for the poor turkey.

Goddamn white male meateating breeders and their world view that thinks everyone eats turkey on Thanksgiving.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:52 AM on November 7, 2007


I like that in threads like this you can tell who's right by the number of favorites their comment received. BUT SOMETIMES OPPOSITE COMMENTS HAVE THE SAME NUMBER OF FAVORITES WHAT DO YOU DO! You add up the number of favorites that each of the favoriters has received, thus weighting their opinion.
posted by klangklangston at 7:58 AM on November 7, 2007 [2 favorites]


The fact that there are so many people who favorited that makes me sad.

Thirded. The idea of managing a relationship like I was one of Professor Griff's S1Ws, holding the line against anything that might make me seem weaker than my partner in the eyes of no one made me sad. How do you sleep at night? Your partner could be doing all sorts of dirty tricks to take over the relationship and force compromise. I've caught my wife changing out my toothbrush without my permission. How to handle these transgressions?

The relationship's still fucked-up if the person insisting on being dominant isn't male. A-duh. So congrats on that progress.
posted by yerfatma at 7:59 AM on November 7, 2007 [3 favorites]


Goddamn white male meateating breeders and their world view that thinks everyone eats turkey on Thanksgiving.

Sit up like some fool and eat turkey? That’s the day your forefathers jerked me!
posted by ibmcginty at 8:02 AM on November 7, 2007


"Yeah; this kind of question and thread is..."

where we get to see people's personal baggage aired.
posted by -t at 8:15 AM on November 7, 2007


Umm yeah Ubu, I said you could borrow that skirt... not keep it forever!

*rummages through Ubu's closet*

hey this is mine, and this too... you dirty little slut!
posted by vronsky at 8:21 AM on November 7, 2007 [2 favorites]


I find that the more I compromise, the less I love those who encourage me to do so.
posted by ewkpates


----

The fact that there are so many people who favorited that makes me sad.

And that gold nugget was preceded by this:

If you don't mind serving him for the rest of your relationship, go for it.

That those two sentences together can receive over 40 favorites is not only sad but embarrassing.
posted by justgary at 8:39 AM on November 7, 2007


You add up the number of favorites that each of the favoriters has received, thus weighting their opinion.

And you can further weight the favorites by determining the user number of each favoritor (sp? real word? is now!) - for every favorite bestowed by a user with a number less than...I dunno, the 30000s?, add ten points. That's how it works around here, amirite?
posted by rtha at 8:51 AM on November 7, 2007


The way lh deals with people who dare to disagree with him speaks volumes.
In any language.
posted by rocket88 at 8:51 AM on November 7, 2007


Disagree with me all you like; I enjoy a good argument. Call what I say "arrogant drivel" and you're going to get it back in your face. Don't like it? Tough luck, express yourself civilly next time.
posted by languagehat at 9:04 AM on November 7, 2007


I know I, for one, make it a policy to act like a sensitive and understanding gentleman just long enough to sucker a broad into loving me, then WHAM! I close the trap. Then I reveal that... I'm from a traditional family! Dun dun duuuuunnn. Make me dinner! No back talk! Serve me! I tell you, it's a great scam.

but seriously, if I were her I'd have the same concerns languagehat mentioned.
posted by shmegegge at 9:09 AM on November 7, 2007


had the poster's boyfriend been a WASP whose Connecticut family insisted on feeding pork to the Muslim girlfriend because it's a family tradition I doubt the reaction here would have been the same -- fuck the boyfriend, and fuck his family, too, regardless of their ethnic group. the poster doesn't want to serve food, she shouldn't just because the goddamned Latinos might or might not expect her to.

and if the guy is so insecure that he'll lose face in front of his family of assholes, good. I'm sure he receives a lot of penis enlargement spam, he should follow one of those links, get his teeny peeny enlarged, and stop worrying about the fact that if his girlfriend doesn't cook for him that's going to make him less of a man.

the Middle Ages are fucking over, regardless the color of the skin, or the religion, of the people who really wish they weren't. fuck them too
posted by matteo at 9:27 AM on November 7, 2007 [2 favorites]


There are gender roles among animals.
posted by C17H19NO3 at 9:32 AM on November 7, 2007


She should just do it and then follow it with a touchdown dance and a big, comic "You just got SERVED, Bitch!" I bet that would lighten the atmosphere and impress the 'rents.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 9:40 AM on November 7, 2007 [5 favorites]


had the poster's boyfriend been a WASP whose Connecticut family insisted on feeding pork to the Muslim girlfriend because it's a family tradition I doubt the reaction here would have been the same

And if the poster's boyfriend was a [NOUN] whose family insisted that the [ADJECTIVE] girlfriend [PRESENT TENSE VERB] for Thanksgiving, you'd all have different answers STILL.

It's an AskMe question, not a MadLib. Change all the important information and of COURSE the answers will be different.
posted by 23skidoo at 9:40 AM on November 7, 2007


I couldn't pick between these three responses, so you get them all:

1) C17blahblah is right! In wolf packs, the lady wolves always serve the turkey on Thanksgiving. We can all go home now.

2) There are no gender roles among rocks.

3) C17blahblah, are you about to argue that the fact that gender roles exist among some animals suggests that sexism is bogus? I hope not.
posted by Kwine at 9:45 AM on November 7, 2007


Did no one suggest sneezing on the plate first?
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 9:48 AM on November 7, 2007


Kwine,

No I'm not making that argument at all. I just find it amusing that people are getting worked up about a woman serving her boyfriend on Thanksgiving (FFS get over it). Just because his family has a "tradition" where the women serve the men does not necessarily point to sexism or misogyny.

And what's wrong with asking your wife/girlfriend to cook for you? I ask mine to do it every now and then, and I will do the same for her. No sexism. No misogyny.

And of course there are no gender roles among rocks. Rocks are asexual. Everybody knows that. Sheesh!
posted by C17H19NO3 at 9:56 AM on November 7, 2007


It's kerfluffle. Not kerfuffle.

The hell it is.

kerfuffle: about 454,000 Google hits,
kerfluffle: about 40,700 Google hits, with a suggestion to try "kerfuffle".
posted by timeistight at 9:57 AM on November 7, 2007 [3 favorites]


matteo writes "the poster doesn't want to serve food, she shouldn't just because the goddamned Latinos might or might not expect her to. "

She's not debating whether or not to do it because the goddamned Latinos expect her to, she's debating whether or not to do it because she's weighing her opinions about that custom on one hand versus her worries about how it might affect her relationship with her boyfriend on the other. From the little she wrote, you have determined that the worries about the custom outweigh her worries about her relationship with her boyfriend. But from the whole "goddamn Latinos" and "goddamn Middle Ages" and "fuck these guys" and "fuck those guys", I doubt any answer would make you determine that her worries on one side outweighed her worries on the other side.

Which means, in brief, that your answer is "I think you should do A, not because it's the best thing for your own situation, but because I don't give a fuck what your situation is."
posted by Bugbread at 10:09 AM on November 7, 2007 [3 favorites]


The hell it is.

Bah! I spit on your so-called evidence!

*looks in dictionary, runs, hides*
posted by languagehat at 10:14 AM on November 7, 2007


It originally had the extra "l" in it, but we thought that sounded too much like "falafel" so we nixed it.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:17 AM on November 7, 2007 [2 favorites]


I have 999 favorites. next person who favorites me will be my bff! (and win a brand new car!)
posted by vronsky at 10:25 AM on November 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


Woo hoo - finally! Milarepa added as contact and I am sending her a brand new (imaginary) car.

*does Peanuts gang happy dance*
posted by vronsky at 10:33 AM on November 7, 2007


Call what I say "arrogant drivel" and you're going to get it back in your face. Don't like it? Tough luck, express yourself civilly next time.

Why? What's the net benefit to acting like a dick to someone who's uncivil?
posted by yerfatma at 10:37 AM on November 7, 2007


I'm perfectly aware of the cultural context, as well as of the fact that there are people participating in the discussion who are not white, American males. It's presumptuous of you to assume that I am not

I really, really, really was not speaking about you in this case. Sorry if it seemed that way. I don't feel like digging through that thread again, but I think I was agreeing with most of what you saID. And I also was NOT saying that anyone should make concessions in the name of cultural awareness. Or judging anyone's opinion as to the subject of women serving men turkey. I most certainly am not on a "white man's traditions are opressing me" kick. Anyone who knows me can tell you, I am not that guy.

I'm all for spirited discourse from different viewpoints. If you ask me, it's not even a real debate until your mother's virtue gets dragged into the discussion.

That would be the collective "your mother" not anyone's specific mother.

All I'm saying is that this is an open exchange of ideas. If you make a comment about working conditions in circuses in Spain, don't be surprised if someone here is a Basque seperatist trapeze artist who thinks your view is lacking in perspective.
posted by billyfleetwood at 11:12 AM on November 7, 2007


Why? What's the net benefit to acting like a dick to someone who's uncivil?

I enjoy it, duh. And watching the hypocrisy of someone who's been acting like a dick suddenly start whining about someone else being mean to them never gets old.
posted by languagehat at 11:17 AM on November 7, 2007 [2 favorites]


And watching the hypocrisy of someone who's been acting like a dick suddenly start whining about someone else being mean to them never gets old.

Oh, the dissonance.
posted by MarkAnd at 11:23 AM on November 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


It originally had the extra "l" in it, but we thought that sounded too much like "falafel" so we nixed it.

The moderation really is out of control.
posted by timeistight at 11:27 AM on November 7, 2007


Okay. According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, a kerfluffle is a "row, disturbance, c.1930, first in Canadian English, ult. from Scot. curfuffle, based on fuffle "to throw into disorder;" first element probably as in kersplash, etc. (see ker-)." (emph. original)

Which means that my culture is wrong. Again.

*cries*
I'm still right about that "another thing coming" thing, though
posted by rtha at 11:50 AM on November 7, 2007


watching the hypocrisy of someone who's been acting like a dick suddenly start whining about someone else being mean to them never gets old

This is why I never believed those "Kill Your Television" bumper stickers.
posted by yerfatma at 11:55 AM on November 7, 2007


Change all the important information

wait, the fact that the family is Latin American is "important information"? how blinded by political correctness can you be? is macho bullshit OK when it comes from non-WASPs?

the bottom line is the boyfriend would like her to accept a macho tradition that's apparently important in his family to determine whether one has the authority to make one's girlfriend/wife do what one wants; the beautiful reality of modernity is that women -- in a lot of countries, the poster's included -- can now vote, work, wear trousers, and say "make your own dinner, asshole".

it all boils down to that. defending machismo on the basis of the perpetrator's ethnic origin is pretty sad.
posted by matteo at 11:57 AM on November 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


We have to be tolerant of our little brown-skinned brothers. They don't know any better.
posted by ND¢ at 12:09 PM on November 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


Emasculating the guy in front of his family is a much better idea, and will surely benefit women the world over.
posted by rocket88 at 12:12 PM on November 7, 2007 [3 favorites]


I once told my woman to do something and she didn't do it and I was totally emasculated. True story.
posted by ND¢ at 12:19 PM on November 7, 2007 [2 favorites]


I am Absolutely Aghast!! As a Southerner, nobody would have a non-family member in their home on a holiday and make them work!! Allowing a guest to so much as lift a finger would be a serious breach in the illusion that Southern Ladies like to maintain that they are in total control and don't need any help with anything domestically.
posted by Megafly at 12:23 PM on November 7, 2007


Why isn't the grocery store selling turkeys yet? Let me let me my wife cook up some turkey!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:42 PM on November 7, 2007


I have been following both threads as best I can, time permitting, and several times I have wanted to jump in with a comment or two. I think we are all lucky I haven't had the time, but I do have say something about this, which I hope sums up my feelings on the whole matter:

women -- in a lot of countries, the poster's included -- can now vote, work, wear trousers, and say "make your own dinner, asshole"

Yes, and here I thought, growing up in the sixties and seventies, when women were burning bras and telling assholes to make their own dinner, that what women were fighting for was the right to have a free choice about how they lived their lives. The message I have been getting today is that women are free to live their lives any way they choose, except to happily chose to be a housewife, to do the cooking, cleaning, and serving of food and drink to whomever they chose.

Has no one considered that the women in this family have chosen to do that, not because they don't have other options or because the men in the family will smack them down if they don't, but rather because they want to do it and enjoy doing it? Is choosing to follow a more traditional gender role not a valid option for women in the 21st century? What I am hearing in entirely too many comments in both threads is that any woman who serves a man in any way is degrading herself and she should kick the asshole to the curb and get a real life, as if the choice to be a traditional housewife is somehow NOT valid choice. Well, that's some free will these equal rights have granted.

I find a lot of what people have said here today to be extremely offensive and disrespectful to women who have chosen a more traditional gender role ... more offensive than a boyfriend asking his girlfriend to fix him a plate of turkey on her first visit to his family's home.

matteo, not really picking on you in particular, yours was just the comment that happened to be at the bottom and set me off while I had a few spare moments.
posted by Orb at 12:48 PM on November 7, 2007 [5 favorites]


What I am hearing in entirely too many comments in both threads is that any woman who serves a man in any way is degrading herself and she should kick the asshole to the curb and get a real life, as if the choice to be a traditional housewife is somehow NOT valid choice.

You're ignoring the fact that the OP doesn't want to perform this task. If someone says, "I don't want to do this for X reason" and people respond with "You're right, X reason is totally valid, I can see why you're upset," I don't see how you can then turn that argument into "Feminists say Y is wrong!"

If you're granting all women free choice, then you have to stand behind the OP's discomfort with this act. If you object to her discomfort because other women perform such tasks without balking, then you can't stand behind any mantle of "free choice" in this.
posted by occhiblu at 1:13 PM on November 7, 2007 [3 favorites]


Emasculating the guy in front of his family is a much better idea, and will surely benefit women the world over.

The pertinent point is that if this guy's masculinity is based on whether or not he can get his gf to serve him a plate of dinner, he isn't much of a man. The sooner he figures that out (with the help of his gf, natch, since he seems none too savvy), the sooner he can get about the business of learning how to be a real man. While he's at it he can tell his weak-ass uncles, brothers and father that they're not men if their masculinity is grounded in such bullshit, either.
posted by OmieWise at 1:45 PM on November 7, 2007 [3 favorites]


Ay ay ay.

I am Puerto Rican. As I said in the original thread, this servig the men in the familiy their plates of food used to be the norm. Not outright mentioned, but just the way it was.

The women in my family weren't submissive or unliberated. Far from it. But you know what, they did it because they wanted to. So to address what some people have suggested, that serving men their food = being an oppressed little woman who nicely plays along with their men's misogynistic tendencies, is just wrong.

On the other hand, what is tolerated by people in one culture may not be by people who come from a different background. Hence, the fact that dating cross-culturally can often come with its own set of perils. There really should be an instruction manual, because it's not easy.

I disagree with seeing the question as an opportunity to qualify something as inherently sexist, regardless of the cisrumstances. I think at heart, the question was about bridging cultural differences in a relationship, deciding what is okay and not okay with you, and how to work with your partner to make sure that you are both on the same page. I hate that term, on the same page, but it kind of fits here.

And, personally, I can't hekp but get annoyed at the cries of "sexist" misogynistic"!, because by extension those are being leveled at people from my own cultural background who I know are not that way at all, and are being judged by a very different standard - the standard of another, different culture.
posted by DrGirlfriend at 1:46 PM on November 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


Sorry, I meant to say"in my family, serving plates to men was the norm", I didn't mean to make it sound so general.
posted by DrGirlfriend at 1:47 PM on November 7, 2007


Isn't this kind of slippery-slopish, anyway? I mean, as I understood it, the question bit was:
For better or worse, my boyfriend is really concerned with other people's perceptions of him, and I don't want to cause him to lose face in front of his family like that... but then again, I sort of do. I have this mental image of a bunch of fat old men sitting around on their asses while the womenfolk are running around, preparing and cleaning and serving and everything, and it just makes me feel a little sick to my stomach.
So, yeah, my instinct was to say that this is not a one-time decision for the rest of their lives, and hence the question was one part navel-gazing, and two parts illogical.

However, I also figured that my thoughts on the question weren't an answer. Thanks for the MeTa discussion, fish tick.
posted by rush at 3:07 PM on November 7, 2007

Has no one considered that the women in this family have chosen to do that, not because they don't have other options or because the men in the family will smack them down if they don't, but rather because they want to do it and enjoy doing it?
I think I'd be more willing to believe that were it not for the fact that the OP's boyfriend considers it a very important ritual, so important that he is willing to make her quite uncomfortable by asking her to participate in it. That suggests to me that there would be ramifications for other members of the family, as well as for the OP and her boyfriend, if they refused to participate in it. I don't think you can call something totally voluntary if it's backed up by that kind of social pressure.

I don't know. I guess my advice would be to go, do it, see how you feel about it, and then talk it over seriously with your boyfriend afterwards. I think you'll have a better sense of the family dynamic after you've actually seen it in action. But maybe that's a cop out.

This is one of those discussions in which I wish you could tell what people's gender was. I'm assuming that most of the "it's just a little turkey!" brigade are men, but maybe I'm wrong about that.
posted by craichead at 3:12 PM on November 7, 2007


Most people do specify their gender in their profiles.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 3:18 PM on November 7, 2007


Still can't have this - culture is political and subject to change. Tradition is fluid. The roles of women have shifted enormously over the last hundred years in a whole raft of communities. I'd accept that agency for change often comes best from within a group than without, purely in terms of effectiveness if nothing else, but cross-cultural influences are as old and venerated as any gender roles as well.
Good manners apply to both host and guest. Why is it so appalling to "emasculate" him but fine to have her round for a festive disempowerment? That's piss-poor hospitality.
posted by Abiezer at 3:31 PM on November 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


but fine to have her round for a festive disempowerment?

Getting an SO a plate of food is as exactly disempowering as one wants it to be.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:40 PM on November 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


If you're granting all women free choice, then you have to stand behind the OP's discomfort with this act.

May we all never have to do anything that brings us discomfort, even if doing so means potentially being rude to future family members.

When I visit my in-laws, I attend their very fundamental Christian church. I didn't the first time we went. I missed the funny thing that happened on the way to church. I missed the post church stop for White Castles and ice cream. I missed the Sunday stop by the grandparents' house. In short, because I didn't want to do something that was the norm in that household, owing to it making me uncomfortable, I missed out on being a member of the family for Sunday. They still all talk about the funny thing that happened on the way to church that time even after 15 years, but it's a story I am not a part of ... a bit of family history I don't share with them.

I did not make that mistake the second time. Was I uncomfortable attending their church? Yes, a little, but the pay-off was getting to see them interact as a family during something that was important to them, and I got to spend time getting to know them and where they were really coming from.

The way to learn about the actual family dynamics of a group isn't by immediately walking in and bucking the system because you find their habits and ways distasteful. If you are entering a home in which traditional gender and family roles appear to be the norm, it does you well to go "under-cover" and do as the natives do. I guarantee you, as a woman, you will learn far more about the actual family dynamics, as well as your potential spouse by spending the day doing what the women do.

All those "traditional" women in all those kitchens aren't working silently like automatons. They are gossiping, talking about the men, their marriages, sharing recipes, sharing themselves as family members do. In fact, in a husband/wife or bf/gf team, one gets to hear the gripes and gossip of the men and one gets to hear the gripes and gossip of the women, and afterwards you share ... and then you both know everything which can be very interesting. And don't think those poor women slaving in the kitchen are starving themselves either. In fact, if they are, that also tells you something about the way that family functions.

So yes, the OP certainly doesn't have to do anything that makes her uncomfortable, but choosing not to do so may come with a price. She may miss out on learning a lot about her boyfriend's family and how things actually work between the members, and she may very well be perceived as rude and haughty, depending on how well she manages to cover the fact she finds the work the other women are doing disgusting. Disgust is a very hard emotion to hide well, especially from people who may be watching you more closely than usual (being the new person).

What's really got my nose bent though is the frequency with which comments have been posted along the lines of "OMG!!! I would NEVER!!! How freaking DEGRADING!!!" By extension then, the women who will be doing this on Thanksgiving (and presumably on a more regular basis than that) are also being degraded, but I'd bet good money they don't see it that way and would think less of anyone who suggested otherwise. Traditional gender roles should not be considered degrading if freely chosen, and it hurts exactly no one to do as the Romans do when in Rome, so long as it is understood by your partner that it will not be the norm in your household, if you don't want it to be.

You can learn a lot more by blending in with the "locals" than you can by insisting on having things your way. Why, a person could even discover that those women carrying plates of food to hungry men have chosen to do so and are willing and happy participants in such a "degrading" action. This sort of thing the OP won't know until she actually gets to know the family and sees how they interact with each other, and they best way to do that, as I have said, is to serve the man his plate of food while keeping eyes and ears open and mouth mostly closed. That's just really good advice for anyone walking into a significant other's family gathering for the first time: try to fit in as well as you can and pay close attention to everything. Right now, all she has is her boyfriend's perceptions on the matter, and chances are high he only has 50% or less of the information necessary to assess the whole situation, being as he is a man and not doing the serving with the women.

Sorry this got long, but I don't know if I will get back here tonight or not. I have to go degrade myself by making dinner, serving the meal, and then doing the dishes ... after which I will continue preparing my kitchen and home for Thanksgiving.
posted by Orb at 3:42 PM on November 7, 2007 [11 favorites]


But exactly Brandon - insisting she does it it exactly as much a matter of personal choice.
posted by Abiezer at 3:50 PM on November 7, 2007


Abiezer writes "Why is it so appalling to 'emasculate' him but fine to have her round for a festive disempowerment? That's piss-poor hospitality."

They're both appalling, but the female is the one asking for advice. We can only advise her "serve dinner" or "don't serve dinner". We can't advise her "don't make her serve dinner", because that's not what she's doing, that's what the boyfriend is doing. If the position were a guy saying "my family wants my girlfriend to serve dinner, but she doesn't want to. What should I do?", we'd probably all be telling him "stand up to your family, explain that it's a cultural difference that they'll have to accept".
posted by Bugbread at 4:01 PM on November 7, 2007


That I can accept as reasonable advice in the specific case, bugbread. I weighed in as I thought we were arguing the larger issue here (being MeTa and all; I didn't respond in the original thread), but as long as you're saying it cuts both ways, that seems fine.
posted by Abiezer at 4:11 PM on November 7, 2007


I just can't let this one go:
(and it seems to be white american women, not men, who are more eager to criticise perceived sexism in other cultures, by the way)

What? You mean the group most likely to have experienced a class of wrongs cares the most about them? SHOCKING.
posted by ch1x0r at 4:22 PM on November 7, 2007


Actually, that's a good point, Abiezer. Some hundred-odd comments in, I realize it's a little unclear what subject fish tick meant for this MeTa to be about. If it were a generalized discussion of gender roles (and maybe it is), my position would be the exact opposite of most of what I've written here. I've been writing this from the assumption that this is a discussion of this particular case. And most of the folks talking about general gender roles have been tying them to this particular case ("she should X because general gender equality etc. etc. etc."), which has kinda clouded the issue.
posted by Bugbread at 4:22 PM on November 7, 2007


ch1x0r writes "What? You mean the group most likely to have experienced a class of wrongs cares the most about them? SHOCKING."

No, read the whole chain of comments which that is a response to:

billyfleetwood: "This thread and the lynching thread are good examples of topics in which people on both sides of the discussion seem to have a startling lack of awareness that there are people participating in these discussions and on this site who are not White American males."

UbuRovias: "and it seems to be white american women, not men, who are more eager to criticise perceived sexism in other cultures, by the way"

UbuRovias isn't making the SHOCKING statement that women care more about the issue that has affected them more, he's just correcting a mistake by another member.

If it makes it easier to parse:

Alice: "People in retirement homes are the main fans of Pokemon."
Bob: "Actually, little kids are."
Ch1x0r: "What? You mean the group who the cartoon is targeted at likes it the most? SHOCKING."

See? The sarcasm is hard and pointed, but isn't actually pointed at anything worth sarcasting.
posted by Bugbread at 4:30 PM on November 7, 2007


Wow, these would have to be the two most contentious threads I can remember here in a very long time.

I'll have to remember this simple formula:

1. describe a relatively innocuous act that happens in almost every house across the world, every day, like the dishing up of food
2. add a gender angle
3. add a cultural tradition / relativism angle
4. pull up deckchair, have woman bring popcorn
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:31 PM on November 7, 2007


That's what I get for skimming.
posted by ch1x0r at 4:33 PM on November 7, 2007


Yes, bugbread - I was really trying to stake a case that there would be circumstances where in a situation like the one described the woman would be perfectly entitled to stand her ground, but I know for myself I'm always willing to see where I can compromise for general happiness and I'd certainly advise a female friend to think the same. But I would support her if she felt this was a point she had to stand on.
posted by Abiezer at 4:39 PM on November 7, 2007


Ubu - what I took away from reading classic feminist works, and what struck me as immensely true and a valuable contribution, is that "the personal is political." It's easy to reduce these things to "it's just a plate of beans," but these are just the arenas where power dynamics play out, and the small chip, chip, chip over time plays a part in entrenching it. Any individual racist slight could be similarly shrugged off (and often used to be) but equally pernicious IMO.
posted by Abiezer at 4:44 PM on November 7, 2007 [2 favorites]


What has really rubbed me the wrong way in that thread (aside from the repeating of tired stereotypes about "traditional" cultures) is how many people feel that it is acceptable to make a unilateral stand on principle while a guest in someone's house.

It's totally fine for she and her boyfriend to do so together, because it is his family and he gets to live with the consequences. And it is totally fine to, down the road and after she knows them all really, really well, suggest some changes. And it is absolutely, completely, 100% ok for her to politely decline the invitation "because of other commitments" and never put herself in a position she would find degrading.

But the people suggesting that it is in any way ok for her -- as a guest -- to suggest in her actions or words that the women of the family are being degraded, or that she finds their holiday behavior abhorrent, are on a totally different etiquette planet from me.

Honestly, I feel honored whenever someone has welcomed me as a guest at a family event. Sometimes it means eating food that is quite frankly disgusting, or going along with cultural practices that are somewhere between uncomfortable and weird. None of these practices are degrading to me because they are not my practices. I am an outsider, and taking part as a guest does not make me fully a part of it. I am an atheist, and bowing my head and saying "amen" during grace does not change anything. I vastly prefer mixed-gender groups and love to cook, but going off with the men to watch the after-dinner football game doesn't make me a tool of the patriarchy.

That's a really long way to say: carrying a dish doesn't make you chattel, but refusing to carry it might make you rude.
posted by Forktine at 4:48 PM on November 7, 2007 [2 favorites]


the bottom line is the boyfriend would like her to accept a macho tradition that's apparently important in his family to determine whether one has the authority to make one's girlfriend/wife do what one wants; the beautiful reality of modernity is that women -- in a lot of countries, the poster's included -- can now vote, work, wear trousers, and say "make your own dinner, asshole".

it all boils down to that. defending machismo on the basis of the perpetrator's ethnic origin is pretty sad.


No, it doesn't all boil down to that. Putting your own cultural spin on how another culture starts meals is more than pretty sad, it's downright ignorant. Labeling the cause for why all the women in his family do this as machismo is even worse. One person gets to control when the other person eats. Which one is in control here? Just because the man gets his food first doesn't mean that he's in charge. Go to my mom's house for dinner. Try and let her take her food first. She will hate you forever. Oooh, then tell her that if she was a modern women, she wouldn't fall for all this macho bullshit.

This is one part of a larger picture that has many many different elements at work, but it's not as simple as women being bossed around by the men in their lives.
posted by 23skidoo at 4:49 PM on November 7, 2007


these are just the arenas where power dynamics play out, and the small chip, chip, chip over time plays a part in entrenching it.

For sure! I feel very sorry for men in "traditional" roles who can't cook, clean, or look after themselves in any way domestically. Way to be chipped right into pussywhip corner! Way to hand all the power over to the women on a platter!
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:53 PM on November 7, 2007


To add: I'm completely sympathetic to the fact that sometimes, while a guest, one does have to make a stand on principle. If her boyfriend sandbagged her with this, not saying anything until the turkey was coming out of the oven and then elbowing her in the ribs and saying, 'get me my food, woman!', she'd be pretty well justified in pouring her drink in his lap and leaving him to walk home on his own. But in this case, she knows what is coming, and so the real trick for her is going to be how to do what feels right, without in any way being a poor guest, which is much harder to pull off than simple righteous anger and pure principle.
posted by Forktine at 4:54 PM on November 7, 2007


I once had Thanksgiving dinner at a Denny's. It was cool.
posted by jonmc at 4:58 PM on November 7, 2007


sarcasting

Love it.
posted by Kwine at 5:03 PM on November 7, 2007


But the people suggesting that it is in any way ok for her -- as a guest -- to suggest in her actions or words that the women of the family are being degraded, or that she finds their holiday behavior abhorrent, are on a totally different etiquette planet from me.

That's my initial comment again, about western liberals being obsessed with rights, and almost completely dismissive of obligations. Unfortunately, guests do have obligations towards their hosts. Not riding in on a white stallion to make a show of criticising their way of life might just be one of them.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:06 PM on November 7, 2007 [2 favorites]


Not riding in on a white stallion to make a show of criticising their way of life might just be one of them.

I thought it was interesting how many people never got that point.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:31 PM on November 7, 2007


Forktine, while I'm sympathetic to your framing about being a guest in someone's house, I think that the responses to the AskMe were almost all directed to the OP with the suggestion that she tell her bf that she wasn't going to do it, not that she make some kind of grand stand for the first time in front of his family. Presumably such a conversation would fulfill one of your requirements: it would be the supportive bf and the op discussing the stand with the family.

I'm not sure, though, why so many people feel like it's impossible to fathom the motives of the men (or women) in the BF's family, but that it would be transparent to that family what the meaning behind the gf simply declining would be. There is, in fact, no guest obligation to not decline doing something, and declining can easily be accomplished without rudeness. The request to serve only appears innocuous to those who have foreclosed the very concerns that the OP used to frame her question.
posted by OmieWise at 5:36 PM on November 7, 2007


The women in my family weren't submissive or unliberated. Far from it. But you know what, they did it because they wanted to.

You know what? There's such a thing as complicity in your own oppression. You know who fought hardest against the abolition of footbinding in China? The women. They broke the bones of their feet and hobbled around their entire lives because they wanted to. The fact that the men found it sexy was purely coincidental. Amazing the way that works.

Yeah, it's incredibly oppressive to look askance at another culture's oppression of women. Us guys should just sit back and enjoy the service.

what I took away from reading classic feminist works, and what struck me as immensely true and a valuable contribution, is that "the personal is political." It's easy to reduce these things to "it's just a plate of beans," but these are just the arenas where power dynamics play out, and the small chip, chip, chip over time plays a part in entrenching it. Any individual racist slight could be similarly shrugged off (and often used to be) but equally pernicious IMO.

Well said, Abiezer.
posted by languagehat at 5:49 PM on November 7, 2007 [2 favorites]


Oh, the dissonance.

You got an example of me whining about someone else being mean to me? Produce it or STFU.
posted by languagehat at 5:51 PM on November 7, 2007


Produce it or STFU.

You really are the Superhero of the Internets, aren't you? I think the "dissonance" was more around someone being a dick complaining about people being dicks.
posted by yerfatma at 6:02 PM on November 7, 2007


It's quite amazing and sad that people are using the “they like it that way” argument. That's what the segregationists and other racists said about blacks during the Civil Rights era. You know what? A lot of people like the traditional way of doing things, including the people who are getting the bad end of the traditional deal.

And it's incoherent to claim simultaneously that it's a cultural tradition for the women to serve the men and that the women have “chosen freely” to do so. Cultural traditions are enforced behavior—the fact that anyone is worrying about the consequences of her refusal to serve, or that they feel that doing so would be inexcusably rude, proves that there's some amount of coercion here.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 6:04 PM on November 7, 2007 [2 favorites]


You know who else said "they like it that way"?

That's right, Godwin. When he was taking about people disingenuously comparing a festive family dinner with the Civil Rights struggles.
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:39 PM on November 7, 2007


The call is coming from inside the house.
posted by MarkAnd at 6:41 PM on November 7, 2007


"You know what? There's such a thing as complicity in your own oppression. You know who fought hardest against the abolition of footbinding in China? The women. They broke the bones of their feet and hobbled around their entire lives because they wanted to. The fact that the men found it sexy was purely coincidental. Amazing the way that works."

And you know what? There may be some people who don't see fixing a plate for someone opression. There may be some who have bigger things to fight for. As a reference, see "Latin American feminist literature".

Here's the thing. If a woman feels oppressed, then she can do something about it. If she doesn't feel opressed, then who the hell is anyone else to "enlighten" her tell her that she's supposed to feel oppressed? Latin American women have an illustrious history of fighting for their rights, and to be unbound from what they find unfair. But that doesn't mean that their worldview in certain areas may be different from yours, or anyone else's. "Cultural differences" isn't just some meaningless phrase. People really do see things differently all over the world.

And it's not that "they like it that way". It's that they may not see the issue the same way you do. It's that they may have other things on their mind other than plate of food, and who brings it t whom.
posted by DrGirlfriend at 6:58 PM on November 7, 2007


It's that they may not see the issue the same way you do.

Or they might not see the issue at all?
posted by liquorice at 7:05 PM on November 7, 2007


I once made a woman serve me before she could sit down and eat her own dinner.

Of course, she was my waitress, but come on...
posted by jonmc at 7:08 PM on November 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


Just about everything you write smacks of whine, languagehat. It's incredibly tiresome.
posted by stinkycheese at 7:13 PM on November 7, 2007


This isn't a "hey babe, in my family we do this or that crazy thing and I'd love if you would participate, see how they do it back home".

It's a "hey babe, we do this in my family and if you don't you will humiliate me". The former is arguably just a plate of food, the latter has the stench of oppression.
posted by Danila at 7:22 PM on November 7, 2007


It's that they may have other things on their mind other than plate of food

Too true! We've all seen Like Water for Chocolate, right? Raowr!!!
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:38 PM on November 7, 2007


> [few comments removed - the fact that this is in MetaTalk means that if you're doing anything but responding to the OP, you should be heading over there.]

Ah, sweet fuckin' Jesus H. Christ on a goddamn MX. Fine:

> What does macho mean, really, anyway? To me it says the man sees himself as superior because of his maleness.

Not how I intended it.
posted by WCityMike at 7:40 PM on November 7, 2007


Fixed quote links:
> [few comments removed - the fact that this is in MetaTalk means that if you're doing anything but responding to the OP, you should be heading over there.]

Ah, sweet fuckin' Jesus H. Christ on a goddamn MX. Fine:

> What does macho mean, really, anyway? To me it says the man sees himself as superior because of his maleness.

Not how I intended it.
You know, Jess, when you leave one side of a thread and remove the other, it leaves a distinct opinion left in the thread. Zap all relevant comments or leave 'em in place, but this scattershot technique screws things up. For God's sake, it wasn't even a vitrolic response.
posted by WCityMike at 7:50 PM on November 7, 2007


And you know what? There may be some people who don't see fixing a plate for someone opression. There may be some who have bigger things to fight for.

Yes. Latin Americans are hardly strangers to oppression, and are probably better placed to recognise true oppression when they see it. This is in contrast to liberal elites in developed countries, who labour under the false consciousness that they are somehow not working class, even though they do not in any way control the means of production & are disenfranchised from the fruits of their labour. The cultural hegemony of the capitalist media-industrial complex seems to have brought this about by convincing these proletarians that ownership of consumer commodities like SUVs & modern domestic appliances entitles them to consider themselves "middle class", and thereby to be somehow exempt from the oppressive class relations that are the universal commonality of the global proletariat. To these unwitting class traitors, I say: remove the logs from your own eyes, all the better to see the specks in others'.
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:15 PM on November 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


WCityMike, it's not scattershot. Any comments that weren't basically directed at the OP and were starting discussions on side topics with other posters in that thread should take those conversations to MeMail or here.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:16 PM on November 7, 2007


> WCityMike, it's not scattershot. Any comments that weren't basically directed at the OP and were starting discussions on side topics with other posters in that thread should take those conversations to MeMail or here.

The post I was responding to fits your criteria — it "wasn't basically directed at the OP and was starting discussions on side topics with other posters in that thread," yet it was left in the thread.

Thus, yes, scattershot.
posted by WCityMike at 8:35 PM on November 7, 2007


Oh, like this one, jessamyn? Directed completely at me, and my response to which was deleted?
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:36 PM on November 7, 2007


Hadn't seen that, UR.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:42 PM on November 7, 2007


Ach, that's bollocks Ubu. Don't start pretending that women's oppression is some invention of the liberal West. The class struggle is only meaningful if the end is human liberation - otherwise you're fetishising a division that is the result of the oppressive system you seek to dismantle. It's a category of historical analysis, not an end in itself.
posted by Abiezer at 8:48 PM on November 7, 2007


Dammit. Fixed link.
posted by WCityMike at 9:00 PM on November 7, 2007


Don't start pretending that women's oppression is some invention of the liberal West.

I wasn't implying that gender oppression is a fiction created by the liberal west. When people are floating around phrases like "complicity in one's own oppression", or claiming that liking a situation doesn't rule out the fact that it's oppressive, a logical thing to do is to turn the patronising spotlight onto those very people. How do they like it if I march in with my own agenda & tell them that they're oppressed, and liking the american way of life doesn't change the fact that the capitalists are fucking them well & truly up the ass?

This is, of course, assuming that languagehat, EB et al are not actually capitalists, in which case they'd be the evil oppressors, not the gullible victims. Either way, they pretty much lose.
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:14 PM on November 7, 2007


But I hardly think that's an outrageous claim (complicity in one's own oppression). I would be a cheeky sod if I told someone I barely knew this was the case, but as a general point you can observe this happening in history, or in yourself if you think about these things. it's not a patronising notion in itself - it ought to be a wake-up up call to all and any of us.
Same with being Latin American - it's not a magic pass to some higher state of awareness about the facts of life either. I'm not an expert on the history of the continent but I read a fair few political writers from there. I seem to recall numerous shitty regimes weren't short of collaborators to do their dirty work, just as I've read of the many movements seeking to change things, including gender relations.
posted by Abiezer at 9:27 PM on November 7, 2007


Any comments that weren't basically directed at the OP and were starting discussions on side topics...

Like this barely relevant, paranoid, borderline-lunatic rant from paulsc?

I mean, c'mon:

"Speaking as a man who once had reason to believe he was intentionally poisoned"

WTF?
posted by dersins at 10:14 PM on November 7, 2007


WTF?

Personally, I loved that comment.
posted by Wolof at 10:36 PM on November 7, 2007


“How do they like it if I march in with my own agenda & tell them that they're oppressed, and liking the american way of life doesn't change the fact that the capitalists are fucking them well & truly up the ass?”

I think you're right and good for you for saying so.

At any rate, this whole line of reasoning is full of shit. We're not talking about women in some little village in Ecuador and languagehat and I and others are flying down there and knocking those plates out of their hands. In fact, none of us are telling the women in the family in question what to do—last I checked, no one here is saying anything to them at all.

But this specific woman isn't of that culture and she is being asked to do something which she is uncomfortable because she feels it is oppressive. She's already expressed how she, the woman involved, feels about it. It's the particular man in her life, and many men (and a few women) here who are telling her otherwise and that it's no big deal. So it's you who are presuming to tell a woman who is from the “Western liberal” culture that she shouldn't feel oppressed. I think you guys are confused about who is being patronizing here and who is not.

And fuck you if you think that women's rights aren't comparable to civil rights for blacks. Sitting in the back of the bus or drinking from a separate water fountain or entering white people's homes from the back door are all “no big deals”, too, from most Southern white peoples' and black peoples' points of view in 1945. Not being prevented from voting, yeah, that's the important issue and damn stupid Rosa Parks for fighting unimportant battles like where she sits on the bus instead of important things like voting rights. Good thing she didn't derail the whole Civil Rights movement with her frivolous histrionics, huh? Whew.

In 1989 I was in a classroom of 11 other students who all argued against my position that in the context of female genital mutilation, “cultural awareness” means jack shit. Every one of those fuckheads argued that if it was the cultural tradition to cut off young women's clitorises, then it's not our place to judge. By some miracle, attitudes on the left on this issue have changed in the intervening 18 years and today's equivalents of those university honors students agitate in outrage over FGM. I wasn't fazed by tut-tutting attempts to smear me with the residue of an earlier time‘s notion of “white man’s burden” and I'm not going to be fazed by it now. A time will come when people will be just as shocked at the idea of separate dining rooms for women and women serving men as they are today at separate restrooms for black people and the tradition of having black servants today. Until then, I'm sure that you and others like you will sleep quite well knowing that you're upholding traditional values and the virtue of commonsense as you enjoy the benefits of subservient women who, you are sure, quite enjoy to cook and clean for you.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 11:00 PM on November 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


In 1989 I was in a classroom of 11 other students who all argued against my position that in the context of female genital mutilation, “cultural awareness” means jack shit. Every one of those fuckheads argued that if it was the cultural tradition to cut off young women's clitorises, then it's not our place to judge. By some miracle, attitudes on the left on this issue have changed in the intervening 18 years and today's equivalents of those university honors students agitate in outrage over FGM.

Well, that is closer to the attitude toward "Female Genital Cutting" I was taught in university a good deal more recently. However, the prevailing point was not that we ought not judge, but that we ought not presume our revulsion or intervention will have a foreseeable or desirable result. "Greeted as liberators? perhaps not... best not colonialize" was the jist, if I took the meaning correctly. It was certainly a cognitive dissonant moment for me. And this was in the department where Angela Davis and Donna Haraway teach.

I think the same delicate balance applies here, in a far less repugnant sense. Our prescriptive judgments aren't worth shit. Change has to come from within: from within that family. Once the OP is in that circle, she can effect change, but not before.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:01 AM on November 8, 2007


Beans, turkey... You name it. We rock it.
posted by fleacircus at 12:15 AM on November 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


See fleacircus, that is exactly the poverty of analysis I've been talking about - quite obvious the connecting factor here is that it was a plate, regardless of what comestible leguminous or fowl was heaped thereon.
posted by Abiezer at 2:03 AM on November 8, 2007


Sure, people are complicit in their own repression all of the time. I don't think Bush is a legitimate president in the slightest, but I've paid my taxes every year of his presidency. At the household level, I'm sure I do worse, every day. We all make our compromises, and I think that most people make them with open eyes. It's not like the women in question aren't watching Seinfeld and Friends and Dallas, much less openly feminist tv shows and movies, which will portray a range of options for how to eat dinner. The status of women's household work has been an open topic in both US and Mexican TV shows since at least the 1960s or '70s -- this is not something where their actions are being driven by an ignorance that other options exist. So the more interesting question becomes, why are they doing what they do? -- is it being driven by oppression, or is it a way to carve out protected female-only space (sort of a mini Michigan Womyn's festival in the other room), or is it done totally tongue in cheek, or are all of them just going along with it as long as Abuela is alive and the minute the old bat kicks the bucket the men will be put firmly in their place? We just don't know, and more importantly, the OP just doesn't know either, and never will unless she goes and gets to know the women in question.

That said, the combination of "men can't understand" added to "women who disagree are showing false consciousness" is a really shitty way to argue. That kind of preemptive dismissal is not only rude, but is the equivalent of putting your hands over your ears and saying "la la la la" -- by not hearing it, you don't have to think about where it comes from, and perhaps actually respond.

This is the kind of thing that maybe gets at the differences between fourth-wave and earlier articulations of feminism. The key being, perhaps, that intentions and context matter -- it is not carrying the dish that is feminist or the opposite, but rather the context in which it is done, and the meaning supplied by the carrier of the dish, not by crude and uninformed outside analysis, which is what we are supplying here.

A lot of the responses here have really rubbed me the wrong way because it seems like so much of this is riding on really offensive stereotypes about "traditional cultures" and male/female relationships in Latino families. But having just criticized the "men can't understand" argument, I'm going to be a big hypocrite and suggest that there is something to be gained by actually going to a few "San Giving" dinners in the US and in Latin America, rather than just projecting our ideas onto them. At the very least, seeing the huge range of how people actually behave, compared to the crude stereotypes about "traditional cultures," might give a sense that perhaps there is more going on than even the boyfriend is aware.
posted by Forktine at 3:59 AM on November 8, 2007 [4 favorites]


Until then, I'm sure that you and others like you will sleep quite well knowing that you're upholding traditional values and the virtue of commonsense as you enjoy the benefits of subservient women who, you are sure, quite enjoy to cook and clean for you.

Um, I think you're barking up the wrong tree here. I actually had to do a double-take, becoz I thought for a second that I was on one of my other interwebs talky places, where I often use the intentionally misleading handle "Ali" partially to tempt people into making those kinds of assumptions about me, becoz I am not muslim, and nor do I pursue any kind of "traditional" lifestyle. Hell, I'm living with a lesbian couple in the bohemian heartland of Sydney, with degrees in sociology & human rights / anti-discrimination law under my belt, and a long history of greenie / punk / socialist / marxist / anarchist politics to boot.

At the same time, as a compulsive traveller, I've experienced a fuckton of non-anglo-american cultures first hand, and find a lot of peoples' assumptions about gender roles in those places to be, um, well-intentioned, but practically ignorant, in an ivory tower kind of sense.

Plus, it's beneficial for lawyers to be able to play devil's advocate. Not as a game, but because things are almost never black & white. Choosing a position at random exercises one's ability to see & understand all (not both) sides in an issue, and that's an approach I think we could all benefit from exercising.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:26 AM on November 8, 2007




btw, refuting the false correlation between a festive dinner, womens' rights generally, and the civil rights movement with a segue into female genital mutilation? hello, fallacy of misleading vividness!

You know, sometimes "you do this & i'll do that" is simply that. I take out the garbage, the dykes clean the bath. That's just the arrangement. Sliding from that sort of ostensibly gender-specific allocation of roles into segregated seating on buses & then into genital mutilation, is, once again, massively disingenuous & hugely presumptuous.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:35 AM on November 8, 2007


The claim that my arguments are fallacies is wrong because the accusation depends upon whether or not the things are comparable. I say they are, you say they are not. There is no unambiguous means for deciding which of us is right, so you can't prima facie determine that my argument is a fallacy. The only way it could be a fallacy, then, is if I made the comparison in bad-faith, not actually believing the comparisons are valid and only made them for rhetorical purposes. But I did not—I think the comparisons I made are completely valid.

So you can argue, validly, that “sliding from that sort of ostensibly gender-specific allocation of roles into segregated seating on buses & then into genital mutilation” is hugely presumptuous, but unless you actually believe/know/can prove that I made those comparisons in bad-faith, they're certainly not “disingenuous ”. Ironically, it is, in fact, very presumptuous to claim that I'm being disingenuous because you are presuming to get inside my head and ascertain that I'm only making these arguments for rhetorical purposes of “winning”, or some such. I am not, I am in earnest. You have a right to disagree about my comparisons, but please stop making accusations of bad-faith.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 6:01 AM on November 8, 2007


no, i believe you are in earnest, and the things are indeed comparable. the extent to which they are comparable is the slippery slope. good night, oh my brother, even though it is probably midday or something in your part of the world.
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:05 AM on November 8, 2007


200th comment!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:14 AM on November 8, 2007


Also, about this part:

“Um, I think you're barking up the wrong tree here.”

No, because I didn't claim that you were a traditionalist in general, but instead specifically claimed that you are upholding traditional values in this case, which you are. And you are doing so from traditionalist reasons: that it's normal, it's not harmful, it's not an outsider's place to question it, etc. And I didn't claim that you were doing so for the purposes of enjoying the privilege of being a man in a world of subservient women—rather, I simply said that you are “enjoying” (in the “partaking the benefit of”, not “taking pleasure from”) those benefits. Which you are. As am I. But I'm not the one arguing that the status quo is hunky-dory.

At any rate, I find it startling and somewhat sad that a progressive, as I think you are, can not even acknowledge the possibility that your arguments are comparable to racist and sexist arguments that have been made in the past. On other topics that are discussed here on MeFi those comparisons are taken for granted and people get frustrated and infuriated when people deny them. For example, gay rights are often compared to civil rights. When conservatives defend the policy against gays in the military, progressives respond that they arguments conservatives offer are almost word-for-word the same arguments that conservatives made against integrating blacks into the military. And the response from conservatives is always “that's disingenuous—the two things are entirely different”.

What's worse about your arguments in this specific case, though, is that we've already had this general discussion in the developed nations about women's rights and in our own culture the sexists made exactly—not similar, but exactly the same—arguments you are making. About the sexist division of labor in the home and in the workplace, they said that its separate but equal, that women like it that way, that it's not about sexism at all, that's it's just no big deal that women are expected to cook and take care of babies while men are expected to have careers. It's no big deal that married women are referred to as “Mrs. John Doe”. The knee-jerk sexist and conservative response to accusations of sexism was, and still is, claims that people are being hysterical, they are making absurd comparisons (sexism isn't at all like racism), they are being selfish, they are being disrespectful of the people who like things the way they are.

The only difference between those people and you are that those people are defending sexism in our culture, you're defending sexism in a different culture.

Which is only defensible if you believe in a strong form of moral relativism that is dependent upon cultural relativism. And you do, obviously. That's fine. But much of your argumentation isn't based upon the principle of relativism, it's based upon a more absolute denial of sexism. You're not just saying, well, sexism in this other culture is okay, it's not out place to judge, you're also arguing that it's not sexism. Even though you're defending practices that are recognized as sexist in our own culture.

Anyway, I take some comfort knowing that history is on my side. When the subject is rights and oppression of groups, history has almost invariably decided that, yes, these supposed rights under contention are like those other rights we decided in the past and that, yes, the claims of oppression in the present with regard to this group are like the claims of oppression against some other group in the past. It's the same, over and over. History isn't gong to agree with your judgment that “it's no big deal” because history (in the last few hundred years, anyway) has generally decided that, yes, it is a big deal.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 6:24 AM on November 8, 2007


Although I haven't read every word of the thread/s, it seems to me that the group fails to credit (or penalize) the OP with the responsibility for having been attracted (subconsciously, maybe), way back three years ago, to this very trait (among others of course) that is now being demonstrated as her man evaluates her on his cultural home field to see if she can fit in over the long haul. He wasn't hiding this, it may have been subtextual until now, and she is perfectly right to question whether it's something she can live with.

All's I'm sayin' is, they are complicit.
posted by thinkpiece at 6:45 AM on November 8, 2007


Ethereal Bligh writes "And you are doing so from traditionalist reasons: that it's normal, it's not harmful, it's not an outsider's place to question it, etc."

I'm not reading him that way. I'm reading it as "it's not an outsider's place to declare it bad without examining it". And by "it", I'm reading him as saying "this specific instance in this specific family". There's a big difference between saying "It's not an outsider's place to make bold and universal declarations about a specific incidence that they have almost no knowledge about" (which is what I think he's saying) and "it's not an outsider's place to make bold and universal declarations about a general trend in multiple cultures" (which is what I think you think he's saying).
posted by Bugbread at 7:02 AM on November 8, 2007


Our prescriptive judgments aren't worth shit. Change has to come from within: from within that family. Once the OP is in that circle, she can effect change, but not before.

Change can only come about through moments of cognitive dissonance like the one you describe. The bf is already in this family, and he can instigate the change, if he wishes to support his girlfriend in her refusal to accept a patriarchal tradition. If he doesn't, she's certainly within her rights to rethink this relationship.

There seem to be only two reasons to oppose counseling the OP to rethink: one is based on an appeal to cultural sensitivity, and the other on the idea that compromise is necessary in relationships. That's certainly true, but implicit in that is that the fight should be waged over 'bigger issues." I submit that for me, there really is no bigger issue in partnership than equitable relationships that don't assign behavior based on gender. I don't think you can tell the OP what should or shouldn't be considered a 'big issue' by her.
posted by Miko at 7:03 AM on November 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


What does macho mean, really, anyway? To me it says the man sees himself as superior because of his maleness.

Not how I intended it.


I understand that. But I'll ask again. What does macho mean, at it's base? Really? Pride in being male? Which also often translates to, "pride at being male instead of female, which is inferior," does it not? Definitely not always, but there's a pretty fine line there.
posted by agregoli at 7:08 AM on November 8, 2007


history (in the last few hundred years, anyway) has generally decided that, yes, it is a big deal.

Yeah, great, butcept more recent history has been unbigdealing a lot that used to be settled as big deal stuff. For instance we're now revisiting whether or not waterboarding is a big deal. And the whole "wiping out big swathes of people" thing. That was such a big deal we used to Never Again about it proudly in high school civics class, and it does not now merit a wrist bracelet. Sayonara to the last of the hunter gatherers because we need to snatch the minerals out of the ground they're standing on and burn the trees off it and raise beef on it. It was a big deal that we interned Japanese Americans in tent cities in WWII, but Guantanamo et al cannot be defined big deals: if you try, somebody says "Godwin!" (or "race card!" "gender card!") and that's the end of that. I don't see this resolving anytime soon given that it is now no big deal that so many postfeminists are gladly choosing to renounce public life in favor of taking on the sacred task of homeschooling their children in order to pass Chick tract values and pre-enlightenment know-how on to the next generation. To me it looks like we are marching back into darkness.
posted by Don Pepino at 7:18 AM on November 8, 2007


Wow, I'm glad I never brought any of you "rights activists" over for Thanksgiving dinner at my family's house. My Mom and my Aunts might not let me back again. Actually, I might enjoy one of you telling them that they were being persecuted by the men and complicit in their own repression because they make and serve the dinner for their families. You'd get the back of the wooden spoon for sure, and I'd laugh.

What a bunch of windbags some of you are. Serving a meal equates to breaking bones and footbinding? You really are ridiculous internet dweebs sometimes. Throw together some more strawmen, it is Autumn after all, and they make nice porch decorations.
posted by genefinder at 7:23 AM on November 8, 2007


UbuRoivas, your disengenuous blindness towards the actual facts of this case bespeaks an agenda. For all your supposedly liberal credentials, every time I've seen you address anything having faintly to do with women's rights on metafilter, it's always to say, "stop whining about your perceived oppression little lady, you're just blowing things out of proportion." You seem to want to claim to be a feminist (what with your lesbian roommates and all), and yet you work hard, very hard, with very many posts, to minimize any examples of actual gender discrmination as imaginary or unimportant.

Go back and read the askme again. The issue is not about generalizations about Latinos or learning that other cultures are different from our own. This is not about some neutral, whimiscal, idiosyncratic family holiday tradition. It's about the OP trying to figure out if her boyfriend will treat her like an equal, or if he will not. It's not just a plate of turkey.
posted by footnote at 7:32 AM on November 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


It's been a slippery slopey millennium so far, and all the snoozy, mushy "awwww, whassamatta uppity Godwin" bullshit is greasing the decline. I say, those of us who see a line need to hold that line. One minute you're all, "Would it kill me to hand the guy his plate of candied yams in front of his mom?" and the next you're reading Caitlin Flanagan and thinking she makes sense.
posted by Don Pepino at 7:39 AM on November 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


Throw together some more strawmen, it is Autumn after all, and they make nice porch decorations.

I think you meant to address this to the OP, right? Since it's her concerns everyone has been addressing.
posted by OmieWise at 7:39 AM on November 8, 2007


To most posters here this whole issue is about liberation and opression and cultural machismo.
The simple fact is this is about relationships. It was important to the boyfriend, for his own personal reasons, that his girlfriend participate in a family tradition. From the original question and followup, it appears he recognized the misogyny angle, and knew his gf would be uncomfortable with it, but asked her to do it as a favour to him. As I understood it, it would make the whole dinner easier and free from insult, ridicule, and embarrassment. Recognizing that any such ridicule would be juvenile, misogynist, macho, etc (and I think both the OP and her bf do recognize that), doesn't change the fact that it's important to him to "save face" in front of his family. As his girlfriend, is it really asking too much to do him this favour? Especially if he's willing to make it up to her for her temporary discomfort? After all, who has been in a serious relationship who hasn't sacrificed their own feelings to appease their partner, even if they think their partner is wrong or misguided?
posted by rocket88 at 7:42 AM on November 8, 2007


is it really asking too much to do him this favour? Especially if he's willing to make it up to her for her temporary discomfort?

Yeah, I think so. See, lookit: he will feel uncomfortable at Thanksgiving if he looks like the only man at the table not in control of his woman, she will feel uncomfortable at Thanksgiving if she's pretending to be happy in the control of her man. Or phrase it however you like--I'm not trying to push political buttons, just trying to say the potential for discomfort is equal on both sides, so how is it a solution for one of them to assume the entire burden?

I don't see why they can't switch off serving each other at his house like I said in the green thread. They can share the table service task and be equally dragged out of their respective comfort zones. It could be a little bit of lighthearted performance theater, rather than A Thanksgiving Lesson.
posted by Don Pepino at 7:57 AM on November 8, 2007


it would make the whole dinner easier and free from insult, ridicule, and embarrassment.

Except for him and her, knowing as they do that their behavior is in contradiction with their shared values.

As his girlfriend, is it really asking too much to do him this favour?

Is it really asking too much for the boyfriend to let his family know that he is an adult who makes his own relationship choices?

The important question, to me, is why he either values this tradition so much, or fears his family's disapproval so much. Either one of those concerns is cause for an important relationship discussion.
posted by Miko at 8:51 AM on November 8, 2007


"Is it really asking too much for the boyfriend to let his family know that he is an adult who makes his own relationship choices?"

Well, when the followup in the AskMe thread says explicitly that she really thinks "...this is more about him needing his parent's approval and wanting them to sign off on our relationship instead of dismissing me as some crazy gringa", then perhaps it is. Maybe you also missed the part where she said they were going to go to relationship counselling...
posted by patricio at 9:08 AM on November 8, 2007


“Actually, I might enjoy one of you telling them that they were being persecuted by the men and complicit in their own repression because they make and serve the dinner for their families. You'd get the back of the wooden spoon for sure, and I'd laugh.”

One thing I've noticed in my years of being a feminist is that this “argument”, assuming it constitutes some sort of rational argument, is almost invariably trotted out by men (and very occasionally women) who confidently assert the opinions of their female relatives without ever actually asking them. It's a nice little example of sexism at work.

And another thing I've noticed in my years of being a feminist man is that when I actually talk to women about what their lives are like as women and how they feel about this stuff is that they quite often talk about how they are resentful of the sexist status quo of women being expected to do the housework, cook the meals, and generally serve the men.

Shocking, I know. But it's amazing the really wacky things you can learn by actually asking women how they feel about these things.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 9:15 AM on November 8, 2007 [2 favorites]


Hi I'm on Metafilter and I could overthink serving someone a plate of beans.
posted by ekstasis23 at 9:44 AM on November 8, 2007


Hey, somebody ask me if I think genefinder is a douche.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 10:08 AM on November 8, 2007


Ethereal Bligh writes "One thing I've noticed in my years of being a feminist is that this “argument”, assuming it constitutes some sort of rational argument, is almost invariably trotted out by men (and very occasionally women) who confidently assert the opinions of their female relatives without ever actually asking them."

One thing I've noticed in my years of being an internet argumentator is that his kind of counterargument is almost invariably trotted out by men (and very occasionally women) who also have never asked these female relatives.
posted by Bugbread at 10:09 AM on November 8, 2007


You know, I've been thinking about my rather extensive personal experience of situations in which women "serve" men, and I want to throw something out there. I don't know whether I'm comfortable generalizing from my personal experience, so I'll just say that this is something that I have personally found to be true.

It is my experience that women who serve men often have a fair amount of contempt for the men they serve. If you asked the men why the women were willing to serve them, the men would say that their wives and girlfriends wanted to show their gratitude to men for being breadwinners (even though the women often work for money, too) or that women are delighted with the domestic division of labor. But if you ask the women, they'll often roll their eyes and tell you that they do it because men, as a class, are kind of pathetic. You just can't expect very much from a man. They're lazy. They're incompetent. They're emotionally weak, and their fragile male egos need constant reinforcement. If they tried to clean the kitchen, they'd just make a mess of it, being lazy, incompetent men. If you want something done right, you do it yourself, and then you pretend to think that your man is a big, strong hero, because otherwise he'll dissolve into a whiny, pathetic mess, and you'll have to make him feel better.

That's not to say that I think women actually have the power in these relationships. I think my mother would vastly prefer that my father and brothers helped clean up after Thanksgiving, rather than lying on the couch watching football while the women did all the work. I know that I sure as hell resent their laziness and sense of entitlement. The men still call the shots in the situations I've encountered. It's just that I'd warn all the guys out there that the women who you think are joyfully serving you might actually think you're a bit of a loser. I think you sometimes pay a price for all that willing submission, and the price is the respect of the women you love. For what it's worth.
posted by craichead at 10:10 AM on November 8, 2007 [3 favorites]


... is almost invariably trotted out by men (and very occasionally women) who confidently assert the opinions of their female relatives without ever actually asking them. It's a nice little example of sexism at work.

What?

genefinder probably has known his (going with the flow of your probabilistic assumption that he's a guy) mom and aunts longer than you have. He probably knows their personalities better than you do, and may have seen them react that way to other similar situations or when similar topics come up in conversation. He probably knows similar things about his male relatives.

Saying "my uncle would do X" and "my aunt would do Y" are both inductive conclusions about probable behaviour based on having known them for years. Sure, either of those conclusions could be wrong; but that doesn't make the latter an example of sexism. His aunt just happens to be a woman - as aunts tend to be - in addition to being a person he has known for years and to whose personality and behaviour he has some insight.
posted by CKmtl at 10:11 AM on November 8, 2007


craichead writes "But if you ask the women, they'll often roll their eyes and tell you that they do it because men, as a class, are kind of pathetic. You just can't expect very much from a man. They're lazy. They're incompetent. They're emotionally weak, and their fragile male egos need constant reinforcement. If they tried to clean the kitchen, they'd just make a mess of it, being lazy, incompetent men."

I dunno about "as a class", but on a more specific level, that is the case with my family. Both my parents work, yet my mom does all the cooking. It bugged the hell out of me as a kid. Why didn't dad cook? Why was it the woman's job? My mom didn't give me a straight answer until I was old enough that she was sure I wouldn't tell dad: it had nothing to do with "a woman's role is in the home", but neither was it "men are incompetent". It was "your dad is a lousy cook". She just sat down one day and thought "would I rather do less work and eat lousy food, or do extra work and eat good food?" Both my parents are very into food, so apparently the answer was simple.
posted by Bugbread at 10:45 AM on November 8, 2007


You had a middle-aged woman living in a household in a "traditional" gender role, who does all the cooking, cleaning AND serving (as well as many, many other household/family related activities) right here in this thread, who was more than willing to rationally discuss my life, my values and my experiences with you, but I guess I am just one of those stupid, degraded, downtrodden and trapped housewives who doesn't know any better and am complicit in my oppression, so what the fuck do I know, right?

Want to know what I have been witnessing in some of the comments here? A huge pile of dicks telling me and women like me how to live our lives and what should make us happy. Talk about patriarchal!
posted by Orb at 10:47 AM on November 8, 2007 [2 favorites]


argumentator

bugbread, you are on fire amusing-me-with-vocab in this thread. ON FIRE!
posted by Kwine at 10:50 AM on November 8, 2007


Yeah serious Male Answer Syndrome... Feel free to discuss our options, guys, but know that this is fundamentally not your fight to win, and we're fighting these battles totally apart from your support or lack thereof. It won't change how we do business that you're cheerleading or not. Change from within and all that.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 10:52 AM on November 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


Ambrosia Voyeur writes "we're fighting these battles totally apart from your support or lack thereof."

Er...which battles? I was under the impression that the battle was for consideration as equals. How do you fight a battle for society to consider the genders as equal while saying that the support of half that society is irrelevant?
posted by Bugbread at 11:42 AM on November 8, 2007


I am not viewing these as battles for equality, I take that as a given. I don't have to fight equal; I am already. Women as a group may not have the same rights as Men, but I'm "being the change I wish to see in the world" as best I can as a contribution to that broader problem.

Rather, I'm talking about the battles wherein women adhere to or reject of prescribed gender norms. For example, Orb's decision to fulfill some traditional gender roles and mine to give those same options the FINGER! ;) Orb and I still share this struggle, even though we have different choices, because we are talking about _ an individual woman's role_ in shaping the universe of _Womens' Roles_, in general. These gendered behaviors don't always have direct bearing on attaining better or more egalitarian treatment. Wearing women's perfume is a choice most women make, but it's not exactly because they're submitting to the patriarchy, it's just gendered behavior. Some women choose to wear men's cologne, and they do so for lots of different reasons. Men don't get to decide which I wear, though. Is this a working analogy?

Basically, I'm saying men ought not have anything to do with determining what women can, cannot, should or should not do. Your opinions of us, our abilities, and our rights, your attractions to us, your commentary on us, are all your own, but we really have no need to explicitly consider "What Men Think" in determining what we want. OF course, as a part of our culture, it can't be avoided, but it also can't really be singled out, and so this is all, to me, fairly academic, and I'm veering afield.

But the tautology is, women's choices are women's. All this talk on the part of men will decide nothing, unless it occurs in a Victorian space wherein women's agency is actually diminshed.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:16 PM on November 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


Ambrosia Voyeur writes "I am not viewing these as battles for equality, I take that as a given. I don't have to fight equal; I am already."

Right. That's why I said "consideration as equals". Genders are already equal, but aren't always considered so.

Ambrosia Voyeur writes "Rather, I'm talking about the battles wherein women adhere to or reject of prescribed gender norms. For example, Orb's decision to fulfill some traditional gender roles and mine to give those same options the FINGER! ;) Orb and I still share this struggle"

Eh? I'm not following you again. What struggle? You decided to do one thing. Orb decided to do another. That's not a struggle. Struggling is trying to do one thing while being opposed. Kayaking upstream is a struggle. Picking a wood kayak instead of a plastic kayak is not a struggle.

Ambrosia Voyeur writes "But the tautology is, women's choices are women's. All this talk on the part of men will decide nothing, unless it occurs in a Victorian space wherein women's agency is actually diminshed."

I'm just getting more and more lost. So you're saying a man's opinion won't decide anything unless it is given excess power, and a woman's opinion diminished.

That is, if women have an equal voice, then a man's opinion is unimportant to the struggle. Except that there is no struggle, because both have equal voices. The only time a man's opinion factors into the struggle for equal voices is when the voices are unequal. That is, when there is a struggle.

Don't get me wrong. None of this is meant to say that men are all-important, or women are all-important, or women are more important than men, or men are more important than women, or that there is no struggle, or anything else like that. But while I understand what most people are talking about when they talk about struggles and battles, I can't figure out what struggle or battle you're talking about. Struggle to do what, opposed to whom?
posted by Bugbread at 12:38 PM on November 8, 2007


She just sat down one day and thought "would I rather do less work and eat lousy food, or do extra work and eat good food?" Both my parents are very into food, so apparently the answer was simple.
posted by bugbread at 1:45 PM on November 8 [+] [!]


Wow, bugbread, and that answer made you think the division of labor in your home was actually fair? It's not hard to learn how to cook decently, you know. Doing a crappy job at jobs you don't want to do is a classic way of getting out of work you should be doing.
posted by footnote at 12:47 PM on November 8, 2007


footnote, it's good of you to call bugbread's father a passive-aggressive sexist. I'm sure you know him and understand his motivations much better than does bugbread.
posted by dersins at 12:58 PM on November 8, 2007


Dersins, what we're doing here is arguing about people's stories about their families. If bugbread doesn't want his family commented upon, he shouldn't have brought his story up as "proof" that women can serve men happily.

(And besides that, I'm honestly amazed that her answer would have dispelled all of bugbread's concerns.)
posted by footnote at 1:08 PM on November 8, 2007


footnote writes "Wow, bugbread, and that answer made you think the division of labor in your home was actually fair? It's not hard to learn how to cook decently, you know. Doing a crappy job at jobs you don't want to do is a classic way of getting out of work you should be doing."

Yes, except my dad likes to cook. My mom won't let him. After I left college, she took to calling it "my kitchen" instead of "the kitchen" and plain forbade him to cook.

It didn't make me think the division of labour in my house is fair. It made me think that the division of labor in my home wasn't based on gender roles but more practical reasons. It's an unfair situation, but not because of the presence or absence of X and Y chromosomes.

footnote writes "Doing a crappy job at jobs you don't want to do is a classic way of getting out of work you should be doing."

This anecdote isn't intended to have any meaning in this argument, but just a random anecdote it brings to mind: I can't get my wife to stop doing the laundry. She sucks at it. Terribly. Pours the detergent straight on the clothes without dissolving it, causing it to leave either white caked powder, or, sometimes, bleaching the clothes. I tried to get her to stop doing the laundry and to let me do it when I got home from work, but she kept collecting all the dirty clothes while I was at work and washing them (we have a small washing machine and little drying space, so laundry is a daily or bi-daily activity). In the end the only solution was that I keep my dirty clothes hidden, so now she washes and screws up her own clothes while I'm at work, and then when I get home from work I do my own. Weird.

Again, sorry, random anecdote, not meant to illustrate anything, really.
posted by Bugbread at 1:09 PM on November 8, 2007


footnote writes "If bugbread doesn't want his family commented upon, he shouldn't have brought his story up as 'proof' that women can serve men happily."

Yeah, I totally shouldn't have done that.

Wait. I did that? When did I do that?

Someone commented that "some men think some women serve men happily. I'll bet they aren't serving happily. I'll bet they're actually scorning the men as incompetents". I shared an anecdote along those lines (the difference being that in my case it was "man" instead of "men"). So sharing an anecdote that illustrates a woman not serving out of happiness but out of exasperation at a man is 'proof' that women serve out of happiness?

If someone said "Gravity makes things drop", and I said "I dropped a bowling ball once, and it made a loud thud", would you say I was offering the bowling ball example as 'proof' that gravity makes things fly up into the air?
posted by Bugbread at 1:14 PM on November 8, 2007


“Feel free to discuss our options, guys, but know that this is fundamentally not your fight to win, and we're fighting these battles totally apart from your support or lack thereof. It won't change how we do business that you're cheerleading or not. Change from within and all that.”

Oh, bullshit. It's every human being's fight to win. Justice is everyone's concern. If you think that only those with a vested interest have a right to speak out, then I trust that you'll refrain from speaking out in the future on every topic in which you are not involved, either personally or by class. Drug companies killing people with Vioxx? You didn't take the medicine, it's none of your business. Iraqis being tortured in US prisons? You're not an Iraqi, it's none of your business. Bush vetoing a bill that would provide health care to children? You aren't a child and don't have children, it's none of your business.

That guy beating up a homeless man on the corner? You're not the homeless man, it's none of your business.

Because, of course, being an activist against those things or even speaking out against those things, if you're not one of the affected class of people, would be patronizing.

“Want to know what I have been witnessing in some of the comments here? A huge pile of dicks telling me and women like me how to live our lives and what should make us happy. Talk about patriarchal!”

Oh, bullshit. Again, as I had to remind UboRoivas, what I and other people are saying is that this woman's boyfriend and his family have no right to expect her to serve him and if she doesn't feel comfortable with it—as she's said—then she oughtn't to do it. Other people have argued back saying that she is being rude if she refuses and, also, that because this is a "Latin" family, we're also being culturally insensitive.

Now, what part of that concerned you?

Maybe you're responding to my comment where I mentioned that I've talked to many women about this sort of thing and many of them have said that they resent being expected to do these sorts of things. Your differing opinion is duly noted. Or did you expect that your opinion stated here somehow negates all those others I've heard?

By the way, I've certainly not said that there's anything wrong with being a housewife. Maybe you confuse traditionally serving all the men at dinner before you, a woman, eat, but I'm not confused about the distinction. A great many women who work at home are equals with their spouses and are not second-class members of their households.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 1:16 PM on November 8, 2007


footnote writes "(And besides that, I'm honestly amazed that her answer would have dispelled all of bugbread's concerns.)"

Well, I gave the Cliff's Notes version. If you'd like a detailed register of every conversation I had with my mom between around age 10 and age 30 regarding 'why dad doesn't cook', I can probably make it, but it'll take a few weeks.
posted by Bugbread at 1:16 PM on November 8, 2007


Division of labor in the household, whatever the complicated arguments surrounding them may be (and they are quite complicated) is not the same thing as the women serving the men before they, themselves, sit and eat.

And, in case anyone isn't clear on this point, “traditional gender roles” is not the same thing as, say, walking three steps behind your husband. Or covering your face when you go outside. Or not being allowed to own property. Traditional gender roles are not, by necessity, unjust and unequal. They often are, but they needn't be. I have opinions about traditional gender roles, but I've not offered them here. What I have condemned are unjust, unequal traditions that may or may not correspond to a traditional gender role.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 1:22 PM on November 8, 2007


Ethereal Bligh writes "what I and other people are saying is that this woman's boyfriend and his family have no right to expect her to serve him and if she doesn't feel comfortable with it—as she's said—then she oughtn't to do it. Other people have argued back saying that she is being rude if she refuses and, also, that because this is a 'Latin' family, we're also being culturally insensitive."

And what I and a few other people are arguing is: it's on a case-by-case basis. We don't know the family. We don't know the boyfriend. We don't know anonymous. We don't know how important this relationship is to each respectively. We don't know whether this issue is an inroad to future havoc or an isolated issue. Making absolute declarations like "YOU SHOULDN'T" and "YOU SHOULD" is just plain stupid.

Really, like most relationship filter questions.
posted by Bugbread at 1:22 PM on November 8, 2007


EB, you've totally and seemingly willfully misread what I wrote. You're entitled to your concern for women's choices, your dialogue about them etc. etc. ad infinitum, but the difficult thing is to make those choices. You can't do that. You're not a woman. To believe that you can act on the behalf of groups to which you do not belong is not democratic.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 1:25 PM on November 8, 2007


Okay, bugbread. I don't think I excel at expressing things that are intuitive to me, but I'm trying.

Making choices and defining one's identity in the face of established gender norms is (always?) a struggle. There's always someone to the left of you asserting that you're complacent and someone to the right asserting that you're acting out. Your kayak comparison is flawed. Most decisions related to gender performance are more akin to choosing to struggle upstream in a kayak or be swept downstream, come whatever rapids there may be. If you don't know that, you're either oblivious or privileged.

So you're saying a man's opinion won't decide anything unless it is given excess power, and a woman's opinion diminished.

That is, if women have an equal voice, then a man's opinion is unimportant to the struggle. Except that there is no struggle, because both have equal voices. The only time a man's opinion factors into the struggle for equal voices is when the voices are unequal. That is, when there is a struggle.


I'm saying the lot of any given group should, and I believe will, be changed for the better or the worse by members of that group, not by bystanders. For anything otherwise to be possible would indicate an undue surrender of agency on the group's part. I don't assert that Men as a group can only do ill by interacting with women's individual or group choices but that coming from a past wherein many of our choices have been made by Men, we can now take full responsibility for our own empowerment. This power does not come from you. Hmm... I'm drawing heavily from Fanon here.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 1:33 PM on November 8, 2007


WHOOPS wtf
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 1:34 PM on November 8, 2007


UbuRoivas, your disengenuous blindness towards the actual facts of this case bespeaks an agenda. For all your supposedly liberal credentials, every time I've seen you address anything having faintly to do with women's rights on metafilter, it's always to say, "stop whining about your perceived oppression little lady, you're just blowing things out of proportion." You seem to want to claim to be a feminist (what with your lesbian roommates and all), and yet you work hard, very hard, with very many posts, to minimize any examples of actual gender discrmination as imaginary or unimportant.

Really? I'll have to keep an eye on that. My gut reaction is that there are real battles to be fought, and there are also people out there more than willing to shoot themselves in the foot over 'principles' that might seem politically sound in a first-year womens' studies essay, but are kinda silly in the real world. This, to me, seems like one of the latter, and when I see one of those, I prefer to call "shenanigans" rather than indulge somebody's personal little sophomoric crusade.

Sometimes these things really do read like people saying "i refuse to cross at zebra crossings because they make all these distinctions between blacks & whites". Save your energy for the real fights, guys.
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:37 PM on November 8, 2007


So, please, be proud to believe in the equality of the sexes. Cheerlead for women's empowerment. Be an activist. It feels nice to see you there, and I hope your insight spreads. But you don't live this fight, and you can't. I hope you feel a rush of just gratification, and a renewed sense of righteousness on Earth at advances and progress, but I don't see how you could feel more empowered, or victorious by power won by another. It is not men who make the boundaries of women's prescribed gender behaviors more porous, nor is it women who make men's gender transgressions more normative, you simply create a welcoming atmosphere on the other side of the broken boundary. It's appreciated, but truthfully, it's expected.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 1:44 PM on November 8, 2007


“To believe that you can act on the behalf of groups to which you do not belong is not democratic.”

Well, you can act on the behalf of groups to which you do not belong and to do so is the very essence of democracy. You know? That voting thing where you decide the best laws and policies for everyone?

At any rate, I don't see where democracy comes into it, it's not as if democracy is the best and most wonderful value of all time. It's one among many.

Your use of “behalf” troubles me. It reveals some confusion. If I call 911 when I see a car accident, am I calling on “behalf” of the victims? Or am I just taking a virtuous action? When Swedes march against the US invasion of Iraq, are they doing so “on behalf” of the Iraqis? Or, rather and more likely, are they simply acting upon what they know to be right?

Finally, no matter how we might parse actions, the fact of the matter is that what's in evidence in this thread are only words. If, for the sake of argument, it is possible to act improperly for the sake of justice because you've usurped somehow the rights of the affected party, there have been no actions here. If someone thinks that my condemnations of sexism has somehow reduced their agency, then they are mistaken.

On Preview:

“I'm saying the lot of any given group should, and I believe will, be changed for the better or the worse by members of that group, not by bystanders. For anything otherwise to be possible would indicate an undue surrender of agency on the group's part.”

Perhaps. But you wrongly seem to think either that a) I (and the other men here) are saying that we're going to fix this problem, or b) that our efforts to contribute to ending this injustice displace yours. The latter is probably what you believe, and you're wrong.

Obviously, it's possible for men to act against sexism in ways that reduce women's agency. But it's not necessarily the case that any male action reduces female agency. Just as it's the case that American anti-war protesters aren't going to solve the problems in Iraq, the Iraqis have to do that, mostly. But getting US troops the hell out would be a big start.

On Second Preview:

“It is not men who make the boundaries of women's prescribed gender behaviors more porous”

Your idea of women having the only real agency in sexism is absurd, as well as offensive in its implications.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 1:59 PM on November 8, 2007


You think you're voting for the benefit of someone outside of your government's jurisdiction? I think we've got a problem, there.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 2:05 PM on November 8, 2007


Ambrosia Voyeur writes "Making choices and defining one's identity in the face of established gender norms is (always?) a struggle."

Ah. Ok. What you're saying makes sense now. I had assumed you were talking about changing / abolishing gender norms, which is why it wasn't clicking. You're talking about the challenge of establishing identity given those norms.

Ambrosia Voyeur writes "I'm saying the lot of any given group should, and I believe will, be changed for the better or the worse by members of that group, not by bystanders."

If we're talking about "the lot", I haven't seen many examples of that except for violent revolution or a gradual population increase until the folks with the bad lot severely outnumber the good lot. Most of the improvements in lots (abolishment of slavery, suffrage, etc.) have been due to the folks with the good lot coming round to realize that there are lots of people with bad lots.
posted by Bugbread at 2:05 PM on November 8, 2007


I'll have to come back to this.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 2:06 PM on November 8, 2007


Happy Birthday, EB.

If I were a woman, I'd bring you some cake.
posted by timeistight at 2:23 PM on November 8, 2007


Be careful of that cake! It could be poisoned!
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:32 PM on November 8, 2007


I enjoy these threads far too much.

This actually reminded me of a memory I'd forgotten about. Every single birthday, after the cake was cut the birthday girl served cake to everyone. Which I did happily because they complimented me on my dress and I usually got some nice pats on my head. When my brother's birthday came around though, I still had to serve the cake, not my brother. Um, what the? So I asked my mum why I had to serve the damn cake while he played on his Sega and the answer I got back was, "that's just what girls do, boys don't serve cake". And when I made a fuss everyone told me not to make a fuss and if I didn't serve the cake they'd just get another girl to do it. So if I chose to do it or not, my brother still wouldn't be serving the damn cake.

I still chose not to do it.

And the moral of the story is: I'm not exactly sure, but I know that a plate of turkey is usually not just a plate of turkey.
posted by liquorice at 2:40 PM on November 8, 2007 [3 favorites]


footnote, writing to/about me: For all your supposedly liberal credentials, every time I've seen you address anything having faintly to do with women's rights on metafilter, it's always to say, "stop whining about your perceived oppression little lady, you're just blowing things out of proportion." You seem to want to claim to be a feminist (what with your lesbian roommates and all), and yet you work hard, very hard, with very many posts, to minimize any examples of actual gender discrmination as imaginary or unimportant.

On reflection, I'd be interested to see some examples for this rather extreme claim, because the only ones I can think of are that I tend to defend Islamic attitudes towards women as not nearly as awful as westerners think, and was a bit meh about Stokkegate. And where female polevaulters are concerned, I even made one of my very rare FPPs highlighting the achievements of women polevaulters, completely devoid of photos for the boys. Neither of those examples sounds to me like working "hard, very hard, with very many posts" to belittle perceptions of oppression or discrimination.

posted by UbuRoivas at 2:50 PM on November 8, 2007


*pats liquorice on the head*
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:51 PM on November 8, 2007



Your use of “behalf” troubles me. It reveals some confusion. If I call 911 when I see a car accident, am I calling on “behalf” of the victims? Or am I just taking a virtuous action? When Swedes march against the US invasion of Iraq, are they doing so “on behalf” of the Iraqis? Or, rather and more likely, are they simply acting upon what they know to be right?


In your silly 911 example, a person is acting, justly, on behalf of another whose "agency" (keeping to the same terms might help here) is already being violated by a large piece of metal, or a rapist with a knife, or what have you. But you know, it's true that if you put them on an ambulance, they might be mad at you for it later. C'est la vie. OF COURSE there is such a thing as helping those in need, and I'm not saying there isn't. But using your power to "help" the disempowered in political spheres often turns out to be neocolonial and dysfunctional. The more than can be accomplished for oneself, the better.

Finally, no matter how we might parse actions, the fact of the matter is that what's in evidence in this thread are only words.

That is pretty much my point in the first place, though I would make the addition that a special class of real world actions, those made by the group under discussion, are privileged as directly revolutionary/progressive/whathaveyou, and the actions of all others are not as fraught by threats of reprisal.

But you wrongly seem to think either that a) I (and the other men here) are saying that we're going to fix this problem, or b) that our efforts to contribute to ending this injustice displace yours. The latter is probably what you believe, and you're wrong.

No, I don't think either of those things. I was ribbing about the "Male Answer Syndrome" tenor of the conversation, but further discussion leads me to wonder if we are in disagreement over how much fixing of this situation by men is possible. I do not feel threatened or concerned that your efforts could somehow displace mine. You're not growing my leghair for me, etc. I'm confused. How could I possibly give over to another the centrality of gender limitations in my life? They're there. I'm a woman. We could go off on a tangent on women as minority or womanhood as non-standard attribute, but guh do not really want.

-NEWS BREAK my co-worker is snoring. lollercaust!-

Obviously, it's possible for men to act against sexism in ways that reduce women's agency. But it's not necessarily the case that any male action reduces female agency.

I've said as much.

Your idea of women having the only real agency in sexism is absurd, as well as offensive in its implications.

I didn't say sexism, I said women's prescribed gender behaviors. Men's prescribed gender behaviors exist also, and are acted upon best by men. It's not sexism, it's not bias, it's just gender culture. WTF don't get yerself het up and offended by abominable shit I didn't say.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 2:58 PM on November 8, 2007


bugbread: well, we're talking about western women, and thankfully, we already have enough power to improve our gender expectations "lot" ourselves, person by person, and thereafter institutionally.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 3:00 PM on November 8, 2007


And the moral of the story is that clever parenting pays dividends. If your parents hadn't challenged your morals in that manner, you might have ended up as a downtrodden housewife, and not as a crusading human rights lawyer type.
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:01 PM on November 8, 2007


Ambrosia Voyeur writes "bugbread: well, we're talking about western women, and thankfully, we already have enough power to improve our gender expectations 'lot' ourselves, person by person, and thereafter institutionally."

Sorry, when you said "lot", I thought you were talking about general lot in life (lower average wages, job discrimination, unlikely to win presidential elections, stuff like that). I need to remind myself that you aren't wandering around topics as much as I am, so I should have understood "lot" to mean "in terms of gender expectations", and then, yeah, I understand and we're largely in agreement.
posted by Bugbread at 3:16 PM on November 8, 2007


Yeah, we could go those places, but it is important not to lump all women's issues together, being especially as there are so many of them, worldwide.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 3:19 PM on November 8, 2007


Ok. Then we're totally on the same page. And I suspect (but I'm not positive) that EB was misreading you the same way, and while he might still disagree, that disagreement will probably be much less strident. But that's just a guess.
posted by Bugbread at 3:36 PM on November 8, 2007


You're really winding me up with some of your comments here, Ubu. Specifically this:
My gut reaction is that there are real battles to be fought, and there are also people out there more than willing to shoot themselves in the foot over 'principles' that might seem politically sound in a first-year womens' studies essay, but are kinda silly in the real world. This, to me, seems like one of the latter, and when I see one of those, I prefer to call "shenanigans" rather than indulge somebody's personal little sophomoric crusade.
One of my first exposures to these issues as explicitly political arguments, rather than just talking with the women in my life, was meeting the miner's wives support groups during the long strike of 84-85 in the UK. You could hardly imagine a less dilettantish and sophomoric bunch of women and they certainly didn't think it was a waste of time to be talking about stuff like this. And yet there they were playing a heroic part at the forefront of defending their communities against one of the most major assaults against the working class of my lifetime. Despite the hardships and ultimate defeat, this chance to air these kinds of issues was seen as liberating for many and a wake-up call to a lot of decent men who fancied themselves as right-on but had a blind spot over this for reasons of tradition and culture in the kind of communities we grew up in.
posted by Abiezer at 4:11 PM on November 8, 2007


Yeah, Ubu, it was Stokkegate I was thinking of.

I totally understand the idea of being fed up with wasting political capital on meaningless crusades. But that's simply not what's happening here -- somebody is being asked to do something that in a real, concrete way, may or may not embody sexism and foretell more to come.

It's not like saying "wimmin" instead of "women."
posted by footnote at 4:21 PM on November 8, 2007


Abiezer & footnote: can I explain myself by saying that this was one of those topics in which the first image that popped into my mind was Rik from The Young Ones? Once I get it into my head that the person framing an issue is doing so in a snotty, Rik-esque style, and their most vocal supporters are also wanting to play the Peoples' Poet role, unfortunately, it's a very difficult image to shake.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:35 PM on November 8, 2007


My gut reaction is that there are real battles to be fought, and there are also people out there more than willing to shoot themselves in the foot over 'principles' that might seem politically sound in a first-year womens' studies essay, but are kinda silly in the real world. This, to me, seems like one of the latter,

To me, this kind of thing - setting standards for partnership that do not compromise on issues of status and mutual respect - is a "real battle", and your attempt to belittle and dismiss it as unimportant, sophomoric, and "kinda silly" is nothing but an attempt to uphold the status quo by suggesting that those of us who see it as serioues tilting at windmills. You must be able to see that it's condescending, and also, a very old and yet innately worthless argument against social change.

It's not up to you to decide what issues are 'big enough' for someone else to take a stand on. If it's not an issue YOU care about, fine; stand down, and be quiet. Save your own energy for whatever fights it is you think are more worthy of your time. In the meantime, those of us for whom it is most definitely a worthwhile issue will work on it in our own lives, and when someone else says they're uncomfortable with a ritual relegating them to a lower social status, we'll continue to encourage her to work it out within her relationship. You simply are not the one who decides how important an issue is.
posted by Miko at 5:12 PM on November 8, 2007


Once I get it into my head that the person framing an issue is doing so in a snotty, Rik-esque style,

ad hominem
posted by Miko at 5:12 PM on November 8, 2007


To me, this kind of thing - setting standards for partnership that do not compromise on issues of status and mutual respect - is a "real battle", and your attempt to belittle and dismiss it as unimportant, sophomoric, and "kinda silly" is nothing but an attempt to uphold the status quo by suggesting that those of us who see it as serioues tilting at windmills.

It's all in the underlying assumptions, Miko. People vehemently opposed to the serving seem to assume that it is in fact, by its very nature & essence belittling, offensive & part of a broad system of repression, compromising "issues of status & mutual respect". If that part is clear and undisputed to you, then the only logical conclusion is to oppose it.

On the other hand, if you are prepared to concede that maybe not every instance of gender-defined roles is necessarily belittling (etc) then you'd probably adopt more of a "try it & see before jumping to conclusions" approach to the situation. I think there are also a lot of assumptions being made about machismo & latin culture too, most likely from people with little or no experience of it. The fact that the majority of commenters that I noticed speaking from within that culture (male or female) regarded the issue as one big "meh" tends to support this.

I'd be interested to turn this on its head a bit, and see if people had the same kinds of reactions to anglo-american traditions, such as various wedding traditions, like bouquet-throwing or the father of the bride leading her to the altar. I expect a fair number of people might personally choose not to do those at their own weddings, but they'd stop short of making all these cries of misogyny if they happened to take place at a wedding they attended. The thing there is that, yes, you can analyse them & point out that they're sexist, but whether or not they are harmfully sexist is another matter.

(ps - ad hominem feminem)
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:45 PM on November 8, 2007


You simply are not the one who decides how important an issue is.

sorry, wtf? askme is for people to present questions for others to offer their opinions on. meta is for us to chew the fat, snark & have flameouts. whether or not i choose to procrastinate by shooting the shit in either of these places is, in fact, totally my prerogative. and if you think that i have, or claim, the ability to decide how other people rank issues for importance, why, that's very flattering of you to say it, but you probably overestimate my power & influence.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:51 PM on November 8, 2007


(ps - ad hominem feminem)

pps ad feminem feminam.

If you wanna rock the pedantry you gotta rock it correct.
posted by dersins at 6:00 PM on November 8, 2007 [3 favorites]


like bouquet-throwing or the father of the bride leading her to the altar. I expect a fair number of people might personally choose not to do those at their own weddings, but they'd stop short of making all these cries of misogyny if they happened to take place at a wedding they attended.

That's different though, isn't it? Here she's being asked to actively participate in the seemingly sexist tradition rather than bear witness to it. And I don't think anyone is saying enter the kitchen and start lecturing the women that they are the subjects of opression blah di dah, just that if she finds it uncomfortable she need not participate in it. I really don't see the problem in that.

If someone at my wedding found the bouquet throw sexist I would not expect them to participate in it and I would not find it rude if they did not. As a guest be civil and cordial but why do something that you are opposed to? As a host, I would be mortified that a guest felt compelled to participate in something they weren't comfortable with instead of just avoiding the practice all together.
posted by liquorice at 6:03 PM on November 8, 2007 [1 favorite]

I expect a fair number of people might personally choose not to do those at their own weddings, but they'd stop short of making all these cries of misogyny if they happened to take place at a wedding they attended.
This is a false analogy, though. It would be similar if the OP was objecting to the other women in her boyfriend's family serving dinner to their wives. But she's not. She's reacting to the expectation that she do so, too.
posted by craichead at 6:05 PM on November 8, 2007


it wasn't *supposed* to be a perfect, direct analogy, dodobrains! it was about making assumptions about the misogyny of foreign traditions, not the issue of requests & consent.
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:16 PM on November 8, 2007


ppps - ad feminaz
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:17 PM on November 8, 2007


But the issue here is requests & consent. It's not about what the tradition means to the women who participate in it all the time. It's about what it means to the OP, and what it means that her boyfriend doesn't care that to her this request is demeaning. He's more concerned with being humiliated in front of his family than with humiliating his girlfriend. That's a legitimate issue.
posted by craichead at 6:23 PM on November 8, 2007


If someone at my wedding found the bouquet throw sexist

oooh, interesting! so you plan to toss the bouquet at your wedding, do you? does this mean you subscribe to the theory that once happily hitched yourself, you should pass your good luck on to another woman who is as yet, sadly, incomplete?
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:23 PM on November 8, 2007


craichead: hm, true. so she's also one of the people who i'd be prodding to find out if they were as prepared to shout misogyny! over a more familiar custom as they are over a foreign one.
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:27 PM on November 8, 2007


No, I don't plan on tossing the bouquet at my wedding, if I have a wedding at all, that is. It's a hypotehtical situation, my dear.
posted by liquorice at 6:31 PM on November 8, 2007


*hypothetical
posted by liquorice at 6:31 PM on November 8, 2007


But the issue here is requests & consent. It's not about what the tradition means to the women who participate in it all the time. It's about what it means to the OP, and what it means that her boyfriend doesn't care that to her this request is demeaning. He's more concerned with being humiliated in front of his family than with humiliating his girlfriend. That's a legitimate issue.

Actually, you're wrong there. It's not about requests & consent, but about the fact that she's made a knee-jerk assumption that the act itself is wrong. The entire problem wouldn't have come up at all if he'd expected her to do something to impress his family that she had no objection to.

"Hey, honey...you know my family always eats Thanksgiving dinner at the fanciest restaurant in town, Chez Wonkeur? Well, it's a classy sort of place with a formal dress code & you haven't met my extended family before, so I'd like it if you dressed up a bit, maybe get a new dress & have your hair done or something...?"
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:56 PM on November 8, 2007


if I have a wedding at all, that is

oh, what does your father have to say about that idea?

posted by UbuRoivas at 7:01 PM on November 8, 2007


(heh..."honey, family, fanciest restaurant, classy, dress, family, dressed, dress, hair"...that should get all the chicks salivating enough to shut up for a bit)
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:09 PM on November 8, 2007

The entire problem wouldn't have come up at all if he'd expected her to do something to impress his family that she had no objection to.
Yes, right, exactly. I think the issue is that her boyfriend doesn't care that she, personally, in her own case, finds the practice objectionable. You think the problem is that she hasn't had her objections properly vetted and evaluated by someone saner, more rational, and much more male than her, such as you. Once some proper male authority has judged the appropriateness of her objection, then we can proceed. Until then, we should assume that she and everyone who supports her is probably hysterical.
posted by craichead at 7:13 PM on November 8, 2007 [4 favorites]


or on crack.

but wondering...if she didn't want her objections vetted & evaluated, why did she post them on askme? i'm hoping her boyfriend didn't make her do it.
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:18 PM on November 8, 2007


UbuRoivas writes "I'd be interested to turn this on its head a bit, and see if people had the same kinds of reactions to anglo-american traditions, such as various wedding traditions, like bouquet-throwing or the father of the bride leading her to the altar. I expect a fair number of people might personally choose not to do those at their own weddings, but they'd stop short of making all these cries of misogyny if they happened to take place at a wedding they attended."

The better analogy (and you got so close!) would be: "I'd be interested to turn this on its head a bit, and see if people had the same kinds of reactions to anglo-american traditions, such as various wedding traditions, like bouquet-throwing or the father of the bride leading her to the altar. I expect if someone posted an askme concerning a woman marrying an anglo male who insisted on the father of the bride leading her to the alter, there would not be all these cries of misogyny". That's much, much more analogous to the situation here, and my person guess is that there would be just as many cries of misogyny, if not more, because we're mostly anglos here and as easy as it is to be critical of other cultures, it's way easier to be critical of your own.
posted by Bugbread at 7:20 PM on November 8, 2007


hm, but your suggestion that only a female could offer any kind of valid opinion on the situation is a fine idea & calls for segregated sites.

i suggest MateFilter, where all us blokes can discuss cars & sports & evaluate whether or not we'd favourite the passing comments that we see over at MeatFilter.
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:28 PM on November 8, 2007


craichead writes "I think the issue is that her boyfriend doesn't care that she, personally, in her own case, finds the practice objectionable."

Yes, one would think that, if one let one's mind fly fancily free with what is often the case instead of what the poster actually writes. The poster actually writes:

"We talked this evening and he said he wouldn't want me to do it if I really didn't want to, but it would mean a lot to him"

Now, if your argument is that he doesn't care enough, then I can buy that as a reasonable argument. But to say that "he doesn't care" as a blanket statement, even after the original asker indicates otherwise, is basically saying "your statements require some external, saner authority before we can proceed."
posted by Bugbread at 7:31 PM on November 8, 2007


bugbread: you could be right, but i don't think the objections would be as strong. more people might go "yeh, it's misogynistic" but at the same time probably shrug their shoulders & add "but whatever, it's just a silly old tradition, and it's harmless, really..."
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:32 PM on November 8, 2007


The entire problem wouldn't have come up at all if he'd expected her to do something to impress his family that she had no objection to.

Um, yeah, that's kind of exactly the point. She objects to this. That's why we have a thread. If she didn't object, no thread, no problem, no discussion.

Same thing in a Western traditional wedding. I can think of plenty of weddings where the couple threw tradition out the window because it does, in fact, draw on patriarchal tradition. I can also think of plenty of weddings where the bride happily accepted such traditions and included them in her wedding. There's really no comparable issue here unless her husband-to-be stipulated "In my family it's the tradition to wear white, be 'given away' by your father only, and promise to obey me while I make no similar promise to you. I want you to follow my family tradition. Is that OK? Will you do that for me, as a favor?"

She'd defnitely be within her rights, if she found those traditions distasteful, to say "It's not okay with me. I'm going to ask a few others how they see this, and once I've thought about it, you and I are going to need to sit down and come to an agreement about what traditions we, as a couple, support, and what we will agree to drop because of values that one or both of us holds dearly."

(heh..."honey, family, fanciest restaurant, classy, dress, family, dressed, dress, hair"...that should get all the chicks salivating enough to shut up for a bit)

And that has to be the single most misogynistic thing I've read on MeFi in a very, very long time. Nicely done. I think we've all got a read on where you're coming from now.
posted by Miko at 8:40 PM on November 8, 2007 [3 favorites]


And that has to be the single most misogynistic thing I've read on MeFi in a very, very long time. Nicely done. I think we've all got a read on where you're coming from now.

Just because something is misogynistic doesn't mean that it can't also be a joke.
posted by 23skidoo at 8:52 PM on November 8, 2007


Yeah, there are in fact a lot of misogynistic jokes. Humor is a great tool to re-inforce the power structure. How many feminists does it take to change a light bulb? "That's not funny." Great. We get the joke. Your point?
posted by Miko at 8:58 PM on November 8, 2007


Humor is a great tool to re-inforce the power structure. How many feminists does it take to change a light bulb? "That's not funny." Great. We get the joke. Your point?

*awe*

that's like a mobius strip of self-referential irony. wonderfully, perfectly balanced.

i've gotta get back to the drawing board here.
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:19 PM on November 8, 2007


Yeah, there are in fact a lot of misogynistic jokes. Humor is a great tool to re-inforce the power structure. How many feminists does it take to change a light bulb? "That's not funny." Great. We get the joke. Your point?

My point is that when a person makes a joke, it's not a big Scooby Doo "aHA we have revealed you for what you really are" moment.
posted by 23skidoo at 10:11 PM on November 8, 2007


actually, what tickled me was that when i was coming up with a scenario that she presumably wouldn't find offensive, it was all about going out dress shopping & having her hair done & looking good in public at a fancy restaurant. the original comment was the massively sexist one, which i tried to defuse by drawing attention to myself thru amplifying the sexism & passing it off as some kind of intentional irony, thus pre-empting the aHA moment. i think. or overthink.

anyway, it's all been worth it for the lightbulb joke :)
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:49 PM on November 8, 2007


We always tell it as:

How many anarchists does it take to change a light bulb?

What, when have anarchists ever changed anything?
posted by Abiezer at 10:52 PM on November 8, 2007


one final digression: "Humor is a great tool to re-inforce the power structure"

I wonder about this. According to Freud's theory on jokes, the reason that they work is that they offer an unconscious shortcut, and often allow otherwise shocking things to be said in a way that's non-shocking. In other words, the precise reason that jokes work is that they sublimate the repressed energy of taboos, by resolving such conflicts into something that's prima facie harmless. In that sense, I wonder if jokes aren't actually a way of releasing the tension in power structures, and only reinforce them if the listener refuses to participate in that release of tension? Just a thought.
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:57 PM on November 8, 2007


In Soviet Russia, lightbulb changes you:

How many lightbulbs does it take to change a Marxist?

None. We use icepicks for that.
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:58 PM on November 8, 2007


oh, what does your father have to say about that idea?

He's happy because he thinks it means I'll stay at home and look after him as he ages.
posted by liquorice at 11:00 PM on November 8, 2007


He's happy because he thinks it means I'll stay at home and look after him as he ages.

Your tendency towards independent opinion is, quite frankly, scandalous.
posted by UbuRoivas at 11:12 PM on November 8, 2007


JOKE THE FIRST
ppps - ad feminaz

JOKE THE SECOND
(heh..."honey, family, fanciest restaurant, classy, dress, family, dressed, dress, hair"...that should get all the chicks salivating enough to shut up for a bit)


I don't think UbuRoivas has done anything in this particular thread to earn enough trust from ME to blunder into a sexist scenariom, crudely turn it into a joke about female materialism, a breath after dropping "feminaz(is)." You're lucky most people around here didn't listen to Rush when he used to use that term so often, but I did, on the good ol' morning commute with a future felon, and I was fucking ten years old but smart enough to recognize his vitriolic japing as hate speech. So parrot it in my proximity, hurt my feelings. You've stepped onto the line with a grin, and a straight face in equal measure and I do not think you get to make the second kind of joke without paying the piper, you fucking Freudian.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:03 AM on November 9, 2007


You've stepped onto the line with a grin, and a straight face in equal measure

that's me to a t, but not noticing the upside-down clown's mask strapped to the back of my head. Rush? i hear they're the greatest technical guitar band in recording history, but what did they sing on this topic?
posted by UbuRoivas at 12:56 AM on November 9, 2007


ps- freudian? ok, that was deliberately inserted as a surefire red flag for a bullshitter. i like his theory of jokes, and civ & its discotheques isn't all that bad (precis: we wouldn't to all the shit we do to impress, if we could just get down & dirty 24/7) but everything else he wrote was utter bollocks.

as my professor of Culture & Psychoanalytic theory quipped, "not everybody has an Oedipal complex & castration anxiety, but you can bet your bottom dollar that Freud did!"
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:06 AM on November 9, 2007


(apart from that, AV, i'm not here to try & earn your respect, nor that of any other. only trying to call a spade a spade. try spending three years doing unpaid volunteer work in a shelter for victims of domestic violence, then get back to me, yeh?)
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:49 AM on November 9, 2007


it's not a big Scooby Doo "aHA we have revealed you for what you really are" moment.

Actually, it kind of is.

As for Freud: There's been a hell of a lot of scholarship on jokes since he came along. It's true that jokes depend for their impact partly on the reference to a taboo topic, but the uses of humor as a technique of oppression has been well studied. Update your knowledge.
posted by Miko at 5:12 AM on November 9, 2007


“Actually, it kind of is.”

Yes, but I started having suspicions right about the point where he tried to support his feminist credentials by pointing to the fact that he has two lesbian roommates.

At any moment, he's going to tell us that he respects women and that, in fact, he loves them! He might even joke that he thinks he's a lesbian trapped in a man's body.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 7:01 AM on November 9, 2007


it's not a big Scooby Doo "aHA we have revealed you for what you really are" moment.

Actually, it kind of is.


I'm not saying that offensive humor can't be used as a tool of oppression. I'm saying that it isn't always used that way. You can't say that you can tell someone's true colors from a joke, especially one as tame as the one that was used to "gotcha!" him.

[NOT WOMENBESHOPPINGIST]
posted by 23skidoo at 8:34 AM on November 9, 2007


UbuRoivas: Roomate of Lesbians! Attender of College! Worker at Crisis Center.... for an implied 3 Years!

You'd think such a person would care that he'd offended a woman with "Ad Feminaz" dropped like a bomb and abandoned. I think most people around here grasp that I'm not offended easily, and I think targeting this for a good reason. I am ALL for dark, edgy humor about social issues, (Why couldn't Helen Keller Drive a car? SHE'S A WOMAN!) but it A. has to be funny and B. can't be peppered with actual peeks at sexism.

Implying that you didn't learn "Feminazi" from Rush Limbaugh doesn't really make you look innocent for using such a slur, just reckless and ignorant as well as two-faced.

Lastly, DO NOT presume to claim immunity to repraoch with your empathy for domestic violence to me without knowing my personal history. That would be something you learned counseling survivors, I WOULD THINK. What did you do, vacuum the place?
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 9:40 AM on November 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


(apart from that, AV, i'm not here to try & earn your respect, nor that of any other. only trying to call a spade a spade. try spending three years doing unpaid volunteer work in a shelter for victims of domestic violence, then get back to me, yeh?)

See, kids, if you work in a shelter for victims of domestic violence, or are willing to claim you do on MetaFilter, you get to be as sexist as you want because you've paid your dues. Cool!
posted by languagehat at 9:52 AM on November 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


What utter bullshit hypocrisy AV. You can make a joke that insults both women and the disabled, but get your panties in a twist at a reference to feminazis. That may be the stupidest thing I have ever read.(And you have been here long enough to know that bad jokes and nuclear snark are de riguer for metatalk.) And languagehat who was getting piled on upthread for his remarks, now joins in the Ubu pile on? Classy. Sounds like you got purged from the party Ubu. I think it is cool you worked at a woman's shelter. You can come join my party, where people are allowed to be human.
posted by vronsky at 12:42 PM on November 9, 2007


Oh, vronsky, UbuRoivas is getting pilled on for his unrelenting pomposity, prodigious verbosity, and...what's the word for troll-osity? His humanity isn't really the problem here.
posted by desuetude at 1:06 PM on November 9, 2007


UbuRoivas is getting pilled on

Don't fuck with pharmacists being the key lesson, here.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:13 PM on November 9, 2007


“You can make a joke that insults both women and the disabled, but get your panties in a twist at a reference to feminazis.”

I don't think that's unreasonable.

First, feminazis compares feminists with Nazis, one of the most indisputably evil political and social movements in modern history—and an association which consequently has become a psychological hot button for inspiring fear and hate. It is the cheapest and most vicious rhetorical attack against one's political enemies in contemporary western political culture.

Second, this particular version of this rhetorical attack, the equation of feminism with Nazism, has wide currency. It's not a throw-away punchline to a joke, it's a daily talking point for antifeminists and blatant sexists.

This is why it's extremely offensive to feminists, rightly so, and why anyone who uses it—even in an offhand, jokey manner—is demonstrating at least an arrogant insensitivity to the sincere political struggle of feminism and at most an obvious hostility to feminism and a support of sexism.

“See, kids, if you work in a shelter for victims of domestic violence, or are willing to claim you do on MetaFilter, you get to be as sexist as you want because you've paid your dues. Cool!”

If you think about it, that comment is basically an equivalent to the “I have friends who are women” defense. He thinks it implies that he can't be sexist, but of course sexists can be just as, or more, opposed to physical violence against women (out of a patriarchal, “protect the women” mentality) as anti-sexists are.

From my own experience working in rape crisis, I can tell you that while anti-sexism forms a background context for this kind of work, the crisis aspect of it makes it intensely practical—the emphasis is on helping women. I worked with some older women who were certainly not feminists, for example.

Volunteering in a shelter or a rape crisis center is no guarantee that someone isn't sexist. It just shows their heart is in the right place. What they learn from such work is up to them. Some people leave with as much or worse bias as they went in. I suspect this is especially true with shelters because it is very, very easy to blame the victim for domestic violence.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 1:15 PM on November 9, 2007


No, no, cortex—it's an elaborate "sweaters" pun.

Gettin' pilled on by the sweaters, man.

"You'd think such a person would care that he'd offended a woman with "Ad Feminaz" dropped like a bomb and abandoned."

Nah, he's treating you like an individual, not a woman. An individual that he doesn't much care if he's offended. In the context of a woman at his shelter, that'd be different. Here? Dry your eyes, little Suzy.
posted by klangklangston at 1:17 PM on November 9, 2007


Dry your eyes, little Suzy!?
posted by agregoli at 1:58 PM on November 9, 2007


Yeah, vronsky, I don't think trying to explain the difference between edgy humor and slurs makes me a hypocrite. You're overreacting, just like NUCLEAR SNARK REDACTED. I have ZERO problem with snark if it's good, but "Ad Feminaz"? You're gonna stand up for that? Boo. If you were onto something about my hypocrisy here, it would make me self-hating, too. There is evidence to the contrary of that.

"You'd think such a person would care that he'd offended a woman with "Ad Feminaz" dropped like a bomb and abandoned."
Nah, he's treating you like an individual, not a woman. An individual that he doesn't much care if he's offended.


klang, the point is, it wasn't quality lulz, just a slur. It's a term that is offensive to women, and any other individual who cares about them. I'm offended by people ignorantly using it with and without my vagina on. (It's detachable. Now and then I go to a party, get drunk, and the next morning I can't for the life of me remember what I did with it.) I'm not freaking out over it, and I'll thank you all to refrain from panty-twist or boo-hoo-hoo hysterical girly jokes to the contrary. More immature prodding at the line between snark and bad form.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 1:59 PM on November 9, 2007


Wait desuetude, you are accusing Ubu of "unrelenting pomposity" and "prodigious verbosity" in a thread with 18 Ethereal Bligh comments?? (winky)

ok AV - friends again. (Maybe I am just still upset at the "soapy boobs" fake-out in that other thread. way to get my hopes up)
posted by vronsky at 2:13 PM on November 9, 2007


I don't know of a single other MeTa thread where the majority opinion has been to sanctimoniously condemn a throwaway joke — what's happened to this place? Where's quonsar when you need him?
posted by Aloysius Bear at 2:14 PM on November 9, 2007


This is why it's extremely offensive to feminists, rightly so, and why anyone who uses it—even in an offhand, jokey manner—is demonstrating at least an arrogant insensitivity to the sincere political struggle of feminism and at most an obvious hostility to feminism and a support of sexism.

I've used the term before in an offhand jokey manner to make fun of people who use the term in earnest.
posted by 23skidoo at 2:14 PM on November 9, 2007


I think it is cool you worked at a woman's shelter.

I do too. I just think it's ridiculous for him to trot it out as an excuse for saying whatever bullshit he feels like. EB, as usual, is spot-on.
posted by languagehat at 2:16 PM on November 9, 2007


EB, as usual, is spot-on.

Can't a bitch get her propers?
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 2:35 PM on November 9, 2007


"Dry your eyes, little Suzy!?"

It's from a song, though I can't remember what the rest of the song is, and the only other hit is from some guitar review.

"klang, the point is, it wasn't quality lulz, just a slur."

Bullshit. It was used in the context of a joke, and no amount of tub-thumping on your part changes that. It's fine that you're offended, as a woman, gentleman or scholar, but glomming onto that picayune shibboleth smacks of amirite-ism. EB aside, "feminazi" has been devalued to the point of eye-rolling, the same way any "nazi" bullshit has. Unless you want to maintain your consistency by earnestly reminding us that the Jews really were loaded into boxcars on every MeTa-caust reference, just cop to attempting to nail Ubu through an appeal to popular sentiment.
posted by klangklangston at 3:17 PM on November 9, 2007


I think the feminazi joke was in poor taste, and while I don't think it gave away anything about Ubu's mentality by itself, he's made plenty of other comments that have.

However, I think you're overstating things, EB, when you say that its virulence comes from the Absolute Power of the word "nazi". When the term "feminazi" was coined, I would probably have agreed, but in the intervening decades, nazi has been deprecated as an insult.
posted by Bugbread at 3:27 PM on November 9, 2007


"but in the intervening decades, nazi has been deprecated as an insult."

WE CAN THANK THE INTERNET.

nazi
posted by klangklangston at 3:29 PM on November 9, 2007


Don't get your panties in a kerfluffle AV.

And remember, vronsky did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.
posted by vronsky at 3:33 PM on November 9, 2007


"Feminist" is enough of an insult all on its own these days, isn't it?
posted by liquorice at 3:33 PM on November 9, 2007


Can't a bitch get her propers?

Sorry, AV, you're spot-on too!

*pats AV*
posted by languagehat at 4:03 PM on November 9, 2007


Wait desuetude, you are accusing Ubu of "unrelenting pomposity" and "prodigious verbosity" in a thread with 18 Ethereal Bligh comments?? (winky)

It's as if yr in ma brain. No kidding, I wrote and then removed the words "...making EB look concise, for fuck's sake" before posting.
posted by desuetude at 4:20 PM on November 9, 2007


EB aside, "feminazi" has been devalued to the point of eye-rolling

I guess I missed the memo on that one. It rankles my cockles, but good, having had exposure to its serious use, perhaps, and I didn't think it passed as a joke, and said so. Now there's a pile-on just for me over that? Okay. And no, I'm not copping to a damn thing, you ridiculous bully. I'll use whatever lingo I like to try and keep from sounding at all like an uber-serious bitch feminist strawperson, mkay?

Over time, you alone have bashed me, and apologized, and done it again, and again, over shit I've said that you think is phony. Are you ever going to consider I might be exactly as I present myself? I am so inured to the pigtail pulling game, I almost made you "sibling". Someday, leave aside the assumption that the world is full of duplicitous, cynical assholes.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 4:21 PM on November 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: it rankles my cockles.
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:52 PM on November 9, 2007


"In Dublin's fair city where girls are so pretty
I first set my eyes on sweet Molly Malone
As she wheeled her wheel barrow, through streets broad and narrow
Singing cockles and mussels alive, alive-o."
posted by vronsky at 4:56 PM on November 9, 2007


"Now there's a pile-on just for me over that?"

What are you on about now? Ubu was the one getting piled-upon, Cap'n Sanctimony.

As for the rest of your comment, well, what the hell are you on about now? Coherence about cleverness, please.
posted by klangklangston at 5:02 PM on November 9, 2007


Above, not about. (Self-zing.)
posted by klangklangston at 5:03 PM on November 9, 2007


cortex is a cockle rankler!

and a weenie waggler!
posted by vronsky at 5:09 PM on November 9, 2007


Ambrosia Voyeur writes "Now there's a pile-on just for me over that?...Over time, you alone have bashed me, and apologized, and done it again, and again"

I think it's in the nature of piles to require more than one item. You can have a pile of rocks, but not a pile of a rock. Likewise, Ubu can bash you, but he can't pile on unless there are other folks with him, which I'm not really seeing.
posted by Bugbread at 7:17 PM on November 9, 2007


bugbread, she's referring to the backlash from her offense at feminazi, which includes comments from numerous people.

And just because feminazi has become a cliche, that doesn't mean it's no longer offensive. To my mind, it's even more offensive because it's become a standard right-wing trope. It's like islamofascism, a powerful coinage that influences thought and packs a bunch of hateful demagoguery into a small package.

“Over time, you alone have bashed me, and apologized, and done it again, and again, over shit I've said that you think is phony. Are you ever going to consider I might be exactly as I present myself? I am so inured to the pigtail pulling game, I almost made you ‘sibling’.”

That's pretty spot-on. klangklangston is a smart-ass who thinks himself less an ass and far more smart than he really is. Socrates's gadfly act was at least explicitly humble (though implicitly arrogant); quonsar's was lowbrow, self-critical and filled with absurdities. Rarely, if ever, does klangklangston turn his cynical, intellectually smug, mocking wit against himself—and that makes all the difference. klang really is MeFi's smart-ass little brother, and the schtick is getting really old, in my opinion. Less striking poses and more simple empathy would be a big improvement.

Also, AV, either you misunderstand what inured means, or the sentence in which that word appears is exactly in contradiction to the powerful implication of its paragraph.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 10:49 PM on November 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


Could someone (Regardless of gender, natch) please open a window? The sanctimony's getting so thick in here I think I'm getting a contact high-and-mighty.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:57 PM on November 9, 2007


No windows, so why don't you just leave the room? The door is over there.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 12:01 AM on November 10, 2007


in·ure
–verb (used with object)
1. to accustom to hardship, difficulty, pain, etc.; toughen or harden; habituate (usually fol. by to): inured to cold.
–verb (used without object)
2. to come into use; take or have effect.
3. to become beneficial or advantageous.


WOW, those are two other meanings I was unaware of. EB, we share alternate facets of a useful word. ;)
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:36 AM on November 10, 2007


*kicks vronsky into a pulp, along with my droogs*

other than that, sweet jebus, do you guys overreact! feminaz? that was riffing, duh. get a sense of humour, guys, unless it's counterrevolutionary or something.

even aloyisius bear, from whom i stole his crush muse sibling wife, can see that you're acting like a bunch of sanctimonious prats over a throwaway joke.

*invokes spirit of burhanistan*

all those whose minds entitle themselves
and whose main entitle is themselves
shall feel the wrath
of my bombast


Speaking of which, here's my First Annual UbuRoivas Award for Outstanding Achievement in Strawman Doucheness:

Volunteering in a shelter or a rape crisis center is no guarantee that someone isn't sexist. It just shows their heart is in the right place. What they learn from such work is up to them. Some people leave with as much or worse bias as they went in. I suspect this is especially true with shelters because it is very, very easy to blame the victim for domestic violence.
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:34 AM on November 10, 2007


hm, reading further, i'm gonna have to assume that people were drunk here, or else i've lost a ton of respect for at least a couple of you.

case in point: languagehat:

I just think it's ridiculous for him to trot it out as an excuse for saying whatever bullshit he feels like.


Have you actually read either of these threads? I hope to think I was making a reasonable case for the idea that dishing up some food is not, as somebody said, a gateway drug for a lifetime of domestic oppression. (repeats) there are heaps of examples of gender-divided roles in all kinds of societies that don't *gasp* entail any kind of devaluation on the part of the people perfoming those roles.

The example of the shelter was *not* an excuse for saying "whatever bullshit he feels like" but a call for people to get a fucking grip & recognise real issues vs...ah, whatever, i riffed on feminx, so, yeh, i'm clearly a wolf in sheep's clothing, or something.

yeh, ok, enough of bullshit. i retract totally. nobody should ever do anything for a person of another gender, no matter how innocuous. now that i've joined your circlejerk, can i go and tell my mother not to bake the gingerbread cookies for christmas? she'll be starting soon, because they're better when left to soften for a couple of weeks before eating.
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:01 AM on November 10, 2007


heh - on the topic of feeling the wrath of my bombast:

AV: Implying that you didn't learn "Feminazi" from Rush Limbaugh doesn't really make you look innocent for using such a slur, just reckless and ignorant as well as two-faced.

well, av, i tune in to american radio every day, but being on the other side of the pacific ocean, idunno, five thousand miles away or something, i hear nothing but static. idiot. what? you think everybody in the world tunes in to listen to the worst of the worst that america has to offer?
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:37 AM on November 10, 2007


*hands controls over to dyke #1*

ubu is smarter than all of you. Please be quiet.

PS - why are there no lesbians in Walden?
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:55 AM on November 10, 2007


Ubu, I like you, but like many other smart, sarcastic guys (it's always guys), you are so repelled by the idea of sentimentality and touchy-feely and "political correctness" you fall right off the other side of the log. Eventually you will learn (I hope) to recognize and correct for this, but for now when someone calls you on it your reaction is an instinctual "sweet jebus, do you guys overreact! feminaz? that was riffing, duh. get a sense of humour, guys." You do realize, right, that being told to "get a sense of humor" is something women and minority groups have traditionally had to contend with since the beginning of time? It's so much easier to see the yuks if you're on the privileged end of the stick. Yeah, yeah, I'm being sanctimonious and "correct," I know.

Seriously, I respect the work you do—you're helping people a lot more than I am—but that doesn't give you the right to mock people for being offended. Sometimes offense isn't silly and PC. And "Feminazi" is not funny.
posted by languagehat at 6:05 AM on November 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


The door is over there.

Now I'm hearing Kirk Van Houten's voice whenever I read an EB comment.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:12 AM on November 10, 2007


UboRoivas's comments have now moved into the “he doth protest too much” territory. Not to mention self-parody when he brings in “Dyke #1” to defend him.

“...you think everybody in the world tunes in to listen to the worst of the worst that america has to offer?”

No, and I don't know why she thought you needed to have heard it from Limbaugh. It's a right-wing trope, encountered everywhere, including Australia. Its use is a reliable marker for sexists. Is it 100% reliable? Of course not. But it's pretty much like someone complaining about “reverse racism” or “ebonics”. That any one of these things are even on someone's radar as having enough legitimacy that they don't fear giving offense tells a great deal about them.

And by the way, Alvy, somewhere out that door you've failed to exit is a library, containing a dictionary, in which you are able to look up the word “sanctimony”. There you will find that it is not a synonym for “self-righteousness”.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 12:38 PM on November 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


And by the way, Alvy, somewhere out that door you've failed to exit is a library, containing a dictionary, in which you are able to look up the word “sanctimony”. There you will find that it is not a synonym for “self-righteousness”.

If, on the other hand, you use a thesaurus (long noted for being a better source of synonyms than a dictionary) you will find that it, in fact, is.

The part that I find surprising is that there's nary a picture of EB to be found in the entry.
posted by dersins at 12:49 PM on November 10, 2007 [2 favorites]


Sanctimonious implies falseness or hypocrisy, self-righteousness does not (though it doesn't require honesty). If you look at the synonyms for sanctimonious in that link, you'll see that most of them imply some amount of falseness. If you look at the entry for self-righteous from the same source, you'll see that the situation is reversed: most of the synonyms don't imply falseness. It's pretty clear to most people who are familiar with these terms that sanctimony implies hypocrisy or falseness while self-righteousness does not.

Thesauruses are, obviously, good sources for synonyms. But a thesaurus's notion of synonym is necessarily relatively loose—it includes widely differing connotations. If you care about what a word generally means in common usage, a dictionary is a better source because of its listing the usages in order of frequency, as well as detailing etymology. It's pretty clear from dictionary entries that sanctimony connotes falseness.

And I'm pretty sure that Alvy meant to skewer our (my) holier-than-thou, smug tone—my self-righteousness—regardless of whether he believes that I am true to it, or not.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 1:23 PM on November 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


holier-than-thou

SANCTImony.
posted by dersins at 1:42 PM on November 10, 2007


Given that UbuRoivas considers this issue so terribly unimportant, I'm amused to log in days after the fact and find him still steaming on.

Funny what people decide is important, isn't it? And when?
posted by Miko at 2:35 PM on November 10, 2007


"But it's pretty much like someone complaining about “reverse racism” or “ebonics”. That any one of these things are even on someone's radar as having enough legitimacy that they don't fear giving offense tells a great deal about them."

Or discussing your pro-cunnilingus stance on the internet. Weren't you just arguing the opposite a few days ago?
posted by klangklangston at 2:51 PM on November 10, 2007


Miko, if I found issue is unimportant, yet a bunch of internet accused me of sexism because of my views on it, I might be inclined to reply to them.
posted by Aloysius Bear at 3:43 PM on November 10, 2007


look up the word “sanctimony”. There you will find that it is not a synonym for “self-righteousness”.

Look up my comment. See where I said you were self-righteous?
Oh wait, I didn't.
I did say you were sanctimonious (Hypocritically righteous) and high-and-mighty (Haughty, arrogant). The two go hand-in-hand. One can be the latter without being the former, but not the other way 'round. If it'll save you the trouble of having to put more words in my mouth, fine, I'll say you're self-righteous, to boot:

You're self-righteous.
To boot.

Alvy, somewhere out that door you've failed to exit
assent
I was supposed to take that seriously? Wow. Should I MeMail you for permission every time I consider participating in a thread you've already commented in, or should I just tell you to go shit in your hat right now and we'll wing it from here?
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 3:53 PM on November 10, 2007


Ah, so you meant to accuse me of being “hypocritically righteous”. I guess I was too generous in assuming that you didn't mean to accuse me of hypocrisy.

So, with that accusation in mind, and that we're winging it, how about I tell you to fuck off, you worthless piece of shit? You're still here? Well, then, fuck off, you worthless piece of shit.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 4:02 PM on November 10, 2007


To Ethereal Bligh, the internet was serious business!
posted by milarepa at 4:10 PM on November 10, 2007


These old threads were a lot more fun when the Longboat cruised in rather than these silly ego contests. Give it a rest guys. You all sound worse with each and every post.
posted by caddis at 4:13 PM on November 10, 2007


I guess I was too generous in assuming that you didn't mean to accuse me of hypocrisy

Ah, the failings of a saint, you have. Let me guess, you're the kind of guy who tells a job interviewer his weaknesses include overachieving and working too hard.

Correct me if I'm misremembering but aren't you the guy who said that he would be gratified if an anti-Anne Coulter comment you wrote influenced or encouraged someone to shoot her?

Not Cheney or Rove or even Bush, none of the people actually responsible for the fucked up shit going on in the world. No, you endorsed the murder of a propagandist - scratch that, propagandists have talent - a lame duck provocateur who is more notable for her gender and appearance than her ideas or influence, and now you have the effrontery to lecture others on how their words mark them as being sexist or misogynist.
Don't like being called a hypocrite?
Stop exempting yourself from standards and metrics you apply to others.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 4:47 PM on November 10, 2007


If you look at the synonyms for sanctimonious in that link, you'll see that most of them imply some amount of falseness. If you look at the entry for self-righteous from the same source, you'll see that the situation is reversed: most of the synonyms don't imply falseness.

Er... If you actually look up all the synonyms, 'Sanctimonious' and 'Self-Righteous' are pretty even in as far as falseness goes.

Sanctimonious: 13 synonyms - 6 'false' and 7 'not false'
Self-righteous: 17 synonyms - 8 'false' and 9 'not false'
posted by CKmtl at 5:06 PM on November 10, 2007


What on earth are you guys talking about now?
posted by liquorice at 6:50 PM on November 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


What on earth are you guys talking about now?

Seconded. Wow.
posted by desuetude at 7:05 PM on November 10, 2007


i think we have too much time on our hands, and far too frisky keyboard fingers. never fear, though. i was about to go all meta & "MeTa" to this askme, but i'll post it here instead. discuss.

Should I serve food to my partner?

By accident of birth, I am one of the most privileged people on the face of the planet today, and in the top hundredth of the top one percent of people in history, privilege-wise. I have never gone a single day without food, I am not only literate, but I have multiple college degrees & a good job. I have had access to the best medical care all my life, not to mention clean drinking water. I live in a western society where people like me have choices over all the important things in life: I have been able to choose what to study, what career to pursue, I am not forced into marriage against my will, nor do I need to work as an indentured labourer nor sell myself into prostitution nor suffer genital mutilation.

And yet, the other day, my partner suggested that I serve food for her. Not being a victim in any way, in fact, sitting on top of the entire pyramid of life, I want in on the whole victim mentality. Should I stand my ground & refuse to serve her, or am I just an overprivileged tosspot with no real cause to fight?

posted by UbuRoivas at 10:43 PM on November 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


Given that UbuRoivas considers this issue so terribly unimportant, I'm amused to log in days after the fact and find him still steaming on.

Funny what people decide is important, isn't it? And when?


Miko, I'd shut up if people stopped responding to me. I've been wanting out of this thread for aeons, but when somebody posts something attacking you, what are you to do? I believe in standing up for oneself, even if that concept is unimportant to you.
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:46 PM on November 10, 2007


Ubu, you're just way more manic than I can keep pace with, and though I think your removal of intimate perspective here is valuable, and ultimately lends creedence to your earlier professions, I still don't think you should treat AskMe denizens as self-serving postcolonial ethical derelicts.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:18 AM on November 11, 2007


you interrupt my Cat Power listening with that gobbledegook?

get thee to a refuge!
posted by UbuRoivas at 12:30 AM on November 11, 2007


*kneels before her own dresser/vanity area, gazes up at the wall, and feels comfort in the utterance of the safeword*
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 1:07 AM on November 11, 2007


Wait... how many hundreds of comments and this isn't a longboat thread? Has the longboat finally run aground?
posted by Kattullus at 1:20 AM on November 11, 2007


Millais? Nunnery!
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:37 AM on November 11, 2007


I believe in standing up for oneself

I do too, obviously, which is exactly where my perspective comes from.

But I've been at this long enough to recognize that when it comes down to a bunch of people arguing with one or two individuals, those one or two are probably far more interested in getting attention and not losing face than in a reasoned discussion, and the work has been done.

I'm sorry you are unable to perceive the legitimate concerns of the OP and many of the rest of us with being pressured to adopt a behavior that is uncomfortable, and that you have such a tin ear for gender relations. But at this point the thread is about you and not about the issue. And I'm not interested enough in converting you to a more informed perspective to keep going. I suspect you will continue to seek justification for your beliefs in spite of a multitude of perspectives, an entire field's worth of scholarship, and plenty of real-world evidence that all argue for a less self-sure point of view. So why bother? I think the arguments on both sides speak for themselves, and I'm confident that most third parties reading this thread at this point will be able to see easily which arguments are stronger and better supported. At this point, further postings are about ego, not ideas. That's why I was amused to see you still fighting away about an issue you were once very sure was "unimportant." Your continued participation is, in itself, evidence against your own stated point of view.
posted by Miko at 8:30 AM on November 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


Does anyone have an opinion on whether jonmc or MrPresidentblahblah has a bigger dick?
posted by Kwine at 11:15 AM on November 11, 2007


Kwine - it's not about size, it's about how they use their dicks. To that end, I suggest a swordfight to decide the issue.
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:25 PM on November 11, 2007


I talk to my mother this evening. She's always voted Republican, she's never described herself as a “feminist” and knows nothing at all about it, and she's pretty much conforms to conventional gender toles. She was a working mother who, nevertheless, cooked and cleaned and ironed and all that for my father and the rest of my family until they got divorced. In her new marriage, her husband does most of the cooking.

I already knew the answer, since we've talked about this before, but just for the formalities, I asked her what she thought about the expectations that the women cooks and cleans and such. Was she happy with that? She laughed and told me that I know how she feels. “Irritated” would be putting it mildly.

She laughed and laughed and laughed when I told her that several men in this thread had asserted that they were sure that their sisters and mothers and other female relatives were happy to do these types of things. She was skeptical that they'd ever actually asked them how they felt.

She also asked me if I had mentioned that none of the women in that side of my family cook. My sister and her husband, who as I've mentioned are both conservative, Evangelical Christians, have an arrangement where he does most of the cooking. My aunt's husband does a lot of the cooking. My maternal grandmother despised cooking and all that housewife stuff, though she mostly did it until my grandfather died in 1974. After that, though, she refused, even the two live-in relationships she had in later years. She wouldn't have described herself as a feminist or certainly not a progressive (she's the one that tried to convince Goldwater to run for president again), but it's not fair of me to use her as an example because she was one of those women of her generation who wasn't a feminist but certainly was very independently-minded and had she been born a generation later, probably would have been a feminist.

Anyway, just for the record. I'd be curious to hear the results of the conversations some people in this thread would have with their mothers, sisters, and aunts if they were to actually call them and ask them how they feel about these things.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 10:36 PM on November 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


EB - can't answer that one here, becoz in no household in my extended family that i can think of is the cooking not shared. actually, that's not entirely true. my dad always did 99% of the cooking, after getting home from work. i also have an uncle who takes on a great share of the cooking, but not quite all.

looking outside my own family, in 2 of 3 italian households that i eat at regularly, the men cook all the time. in the other, it's the woman. every other household i can think of or have lived in, it's shared equally, more or less.

i have no idea what this does to my positions on this matter, but i expect it makes me a hypocrite or ignorant or something.

should i try asking around to see what the men feel about their cooking duties?
posted by UbuRoivas at 11:12 PM on November 11, 2007


I know you weren’t asking me, EB, not being white, male or American after all, but that’s never stopped me from answering a question.

Something I distinctly remember after my mother passed away were the queries from worried relatives asking us what we were going to do now that she was gone. Who was going to cook and clean for us? We’d have to get a maid, surely, or at least move in with my grandmother. And what about the children, who was going to look after *them*? (The children, in this instance, being 18 and 20). And while, in their grief, they were latching onto the only tangible problem that they could it was, to say the least, insulting that my mother could be narrowed down to her role as a homemaker. One even went so far as to comment that if it had been my father that had passed instead, then the only thing we’d have to worry about is money. My father, being the stiff upper lip man that he is refused all forms of charity and took upon himself the burdens my mother had carried for the past 25 years. It’s to his credit that he has never complained once, but I digress.

All my life (as I relayed in an anecdote above) it is had been made very clear to me that women and men have different roles in life and especially, in the household. My life couldn’t have been more fitting to the nuclear family stereotype. And nothing around me told me any different. Every family I knew reflected the same ideology that my own held dear. And still, it was me who stuck a magnet firmly on the middle of the fridge door with the slogan “This Is An Equal Opportunity Kitchen”. It’s still there to this day, although now my dad points to it and tells the story in that patronizing “isn’t my daughter such a crazy larrikin?” way. It irked me earlier today being told that I face no oppression because I’m educated and live a middle class lifestyle in a Western country and any sort of obstacle is purely symbolic. We may have won the bigger battles in this country but that doesn’t mean these smaller fights lose any importance and value because of it.

It was always clear that my mother didn’t enjoy cooking, she made sure we all knew that and still she wouldn’t have handed over the reigns to my father if he asked for it (not that he ever did). It was just something she did because that’s what she had to do. And that’s what I had to do, because I was the daughter and I was supposed to learn the trade from her. I refused, of course, cutting my nose off to spite my face, I guess. But if she wouldn’t teach my brother, then why me? None of it made sense, this whole gender difference seemed so unpalatable and so illogical to boot. In this world we educate women to the highest of standards and then we expect them to drop it all and fall back into subservience? By no means do I mean to belittle those who willingly choose such a lifestyle but in many cases it’s about so much more than that.

It’s about being the good daughter who grows up to be the good wife. And you wouldn’t want to disappoint your parents, right? I see it played out in families I know, again and again. It’s simply expected and that just isn’t questioned. So, yes, most of the women I know do not enjoy cooking in the cook-three-meals-a-day-every-day sense, but they do it anyway. Why? Because they’re a woman and that’s what women do.
posted by liquorice at 11:30 PM on November 11, 2007 [2 favorites]


Well, of course I am interested in what you have to day, liquorice, as it's relevant. But the more specific context was the men in this thread who have spoken for their female relatives in favor of these roles. I'd like to know what those women say if they are asked directly and their views are not assumed.

Your story, though, I think is pretty representative. Lots of younger women these days just say, no, I'm not going to do that. My sister, for example. She's certainly wouldn't describe herself as a feminist, she's a conservative Christian. But it's much more obvious to younger women than older women that it's not even really a political statement to refuse to do these things. It's simple fairness. (“Refuse” meaning, of course, refusing to do them exclusively.)

And your mother's example is also pretty exemplary, in my opinion. Older women do these things because it's what's expected and what they were taught and it's what they're accustomed to. Rarely, I think, is it the case that they truly enjoy doing it as a daily duty. I'm sure it varies culturally and socioeconomically. In some environments, perhaps a large majority of women will report that they think these expectations are equitable and they enjoy meeting them.

But, again, my personal experience with talking to women—not just my family—about this topic has been that most of them grumble about it. Those that do it continue to do it, but they grumble about it. Maybe not with much resentment, perhaps more with a mild complaint. Or, perhaps, as someone mentioned earlier, with a sort of complaint about men in being childish and not being able to look after themselves. But, overall, I rarely hear the “I love cooking and cleaning for my family!” sentiments that some of the men in this thread assure us their female relatives and, presumably, most others (why would they argue if they admitted that their families were exceptional?) would express.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 11:46 PM on November 11, 2007


My mother is the youngest of five girls, and I have steps upon steps -- a very mixed family. I'm thinking of at least 18 women as relatives and dear family friends, here. Only two have been homemakers as a primary duty for any length of time, and those are my grandmother... who had five babies in eight years on an Air Force Base, and her fourth daughter, my aunt Di, who I'm pretty sure would rather be paid in red wine and diamonds than taxable income anyhow. And she's a fantastic cook, and an apt driver of children, so everyone's happy there. Every other woman works for a living and lives in a household where duties are reasonably shared, and that's been the case for their entire lives. My mom tried homemaking for a while recently, and I swear to god it nearly killed her. She stayed in bed all the time and got a Volpino Italiano.

Not what you were looking for in the slightest, EB. Another data point way off the chart.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:31 AM on November 12, 2007


It's nice to hear how common it's become for these chores to be handled more equitably. Of course, one still reads stories (in the NYT, natch) about professional women whose husbands assured them before marriage that they'd do their half but, once married, suddenly expect the wife to cook and clean for them, daily.

But I'm not really seeing that as the dominant type, these days.

What I'm actually seeing (excluding ultra-traditional households, of which I know none) is either a surprising number of men who enjoy cooking and usually do it, or where both spouses cook. However, I hear about men cleaning much less frequently. I don't hear about men refusing to clean at all, on principle, the way my father did. But there seems to be less equity on the cleaning front.

And even with the men that cook all the time, there's still a lingering sense that, for them, to do this is all still very optional, as if they should be thanked and congratulated for doing so. Now, that may be a bit of an overstatement. My mom's husband, for example, always cooks and he loves to cook. (As well as go to the grocery store—now that he's retired, he goes to the grocery store at least once a day, sometimes several times a day. He's on a first name basis with everyone there. This has actually affected their finances and they're trying to get him to cut down on trips to the store.) And I don't think he expects to be congratulated or especially thanked for doing all this cooking. Still, it's not as if there's truly been a role reversal. He's not expected to cook every night the way that my mom was by my dad. So in that sense, it's still voluntary, even for the men who do it every night. And, in that sense, it's still quite different from the traditional role where it's simply not been voluntary for the woman to do these things.

The division of labor in my parent's household was very, very unequal. Not that my dad would admit to that—he always claimed that his home and auto repair and groundskeeping duties were his equal contribution to my mom's.

But my mom worked every day until 5:00. Then she'd come home and start making dinner. She'd cook and serve dinner, then wash the dishes. She'd tidy up the house and wash clothes. Then she'd iron all my dad's shirts. She would also attend to whatever parenting duties that were required, my dad was largely uninvolved unless he was angry. Basically, she'd work at home for the solid block of time from when she left work until about 9:30 or 10:00PM. My dad typically went to sleep at 8:00PM. She'd have maybe an hour to herself to read or watch a recorded television show before she went to bed.

As you might guess, she was not happy with this state of affairs. But she tolerated it for 28 years.

Her second husband, with whom she's been married now for 15 years, is an extremely easy going, kind, loving, and generous man who is very attentive. He's pretty much the opposite of my dad. Oddly, he was in fact my dad's best man at their wedding 43 years ago.

Until her husband retired, she did more of the cleaning around the house, although he did a good portion of it. Now that he's retired, I think he does most of it. But they don't clean that much, certainly not compared to what my mom did when I was growing up. Both of my parents had extremely high expectations for a clean house and that's why cleaning the house was a considerable daily chore. My sister inherited that tendency, her house is spotless with zero clutter and everything in its place. That's what I would prefer, actually, but I'm a slob in my habits because it's not really that important to me to have things spotless. My sister's husband does some of the cleaning. Certainly he does the things that my sister can't do because of her disability.

By the way, if this is relevant, my mom's older sister looks after me, a bit. She comes by once a week, bringing me some groceries and doing a few things that I can't do for myself because of my disability, such as taking out all my trash to the trash bin. I stupidly took a second-story apartment because I needed something that was available, but I have a very, very hard time just going up or down the stairs at all such that I leave the house only once a week, or so. I certainly can't carry anything up or down the stairs. So Judy will bring things up for me and carry out the trash. She's taken to washing my (few) dishes when she's here, but that's not something I asked her to do because I can certainly do it. She plans to do some cleaning of my apartment when I'm in Kansas City over Thanksgiving.

She doesn't do these things because she's female, it's just because a) I'm much closer to my mom's family than my dad's and so it's my mom's two sisters who are looking after me since I've moved here, and b) this older sister, Judy, is unmarried and a caretaker personality. She's pretty thrilled whenever she gets the opportunity to do this kind of thing, although she can be very passive-aggressive about it. She also has some problems with boundaries. If I let her, she'd take over my whole life. But I'm very thankful to have someone to help me. That's part of why I moved back here from Austin. Lest you think that Judy, had she married, would have been happy to cook and clean every day, her caretaking personality is one where it must be on her terms. And she also tends to let you know that she's doing all this stuff for you. (Coping with her personality quirks is a fact of life in my family—we all agree that if we didn't love her so much, we'd have to kill her.)
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 9:15 AM on November 12, 2007


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