Saturday, August 25, 2012

Lay Lady Lay: The Woman Blog

All art today by the incomparable Anne Taintor

Taintor, Paint Her! Sold Her? *Sigh*

Today’s Huff Post headlines...all-male  roll call! Jobs, Romney, Obama, Bernanke, and...Limbaugh rejoicing at a Romney birther joke (ha, ha, what larks!); and as for the women: “Jennifer Greene Brings Back The Slit” and “Jennifer Lopez Goes Strapless.”

Yes, you guessed it: Uber-Feminist and Unapologetic Drinker Miss O’ is going to talk about rape, vaginas, and other girly concerns today. But first she wants to celebrate artist Anne Taintor.

Anne Taintor, Self Portrait

Anne Taintor is a visual artist who, beginning in 1985—using the magazine advertising models of the 1940s, '50s, and '60s as inspiration and material—made collage art commentary on what it is to be a woman in Capitalist America. Using fresh-faced advertising images and pasted strips of ransom-note styled words, she appropriated mid-twentieth century proto-woman sensibility and turned it on its costume jewelry earring. She became a commercial sensation. I am using her Googled art today to assist me in this foray into feminism, to serve as surrogate for Miss O’s sense of humor. Because Miss O' is fucking pissed off today.  

Just Like a Woman

Last weekend Miss O’ attended a wedding, an actually cool wedding, in a 3rd Floor photography studio in a fabulous old building on 18th Street and Broadway, near Union Square. Tall windows, wood floors, white walls, candles resting atop sunflowers inside glass globe holders, all designed by the artist bride, who was 52. She herself wore on her tall, fit but womanly frame a form-fitting gown of ruched silk with cap sleeves and low neck, the silk of a color like champagne tinted with bronze. To this she had added a white hydrangea boa she had made herself. Her face glowed in simple makeup, set off by exotic dangly earrings, the front strands of her long, reddish tresses, pulled back from her face and gathered lightly at the top of her head.

As readers know from previous posts, for all her own clothing simplicity, Miss O’ loves clothes, the artsy quality of them, yes, but really the fabrics. I love to see how creatively people can put together colors, textures, and patterns, accessorize and adorn them, and stride out into the subway world as walking art. I'm not all books and blogs, is what I'm saying.

I myself had never met the bride; I was the date of the man officiating the ceremony. He introduced us beforehand (it was a great open reception to be interrupted briefly for a heartfelt ceremony, followed by dancing and more divine catered nosh), and I gushed (as Miss O’ does), “So nice to meet you, and may I say you look gorgeous!” I looked her up and down. “The silk, the boa!” And she thanked me. Later, my date said, “Oh, I’m so glad you said something. All week her sisters have been telling her they hate the dress, she should wear white, all that, be more traditional.” (This was her first marriage; her groom had been a high school chum, now a globetrotting diplomat, and this was one of those great reconnections. To complete this picture, he wore a French blue and white striped shirt, a blue-based floral tie, and a cream suit in another pattern altogether, windowpane, I think—I adored this groom on sight.)

Later, when I met the bride’s gorgeous mother (wearing tasteful yet glamorous black), I remarked how stunning her daughter looked. Her mom considered me for a moment. “Yes, well, she can get away with it.”

That phrase, “She can get away with it,” uttered cooly by one woman to another woman, and about another woman, too—her own daughter, even—really sticks in Miss O’s feminist craw.

Earlier that evening, just as I had arrived, I had been introduced to another of my date’s friends, a woman he had worked with (now, like him, retired), and I saw her looking at my necklace. I’d chosen a crafted necklace, a small, brown clay face on a thickish cord, which my date had given to me years before (he’d bought it from an artist just because he liked it). I said, “Did you see?” and he said, “I saw!”

The woman looked perturbed. “Well,” she said, “I guess you can get away with it.”

Ain’t I a Woman?

You see it, you hear it, this sort of thing, and far too often, woman to woman: "She can get away with it, I guess." Out of what Miss O’ suspects is a combination of sexual jealousy and personal limitation, remarks like this are foisted upon creative women, unusual women, well, women, by all types of other women every day. It’s not even a backhanded compliment, but more like a mitigated insult, a less direct hit.

As Miss O' has meditated on often in past blogs, since the story of Adam and Eve, women have been blamed for everything that goes wrong in the world:  Eve’s apple munch brought about the fall of man. So powerful was her choice to bite in that even God Himself could no longer see Man on Earth: “Adam, where are you?” They’s some chompers on that girl! And ever since, Woman's wet, yummy pussy—signaled to exist, why, not only via the sway of an ample rump, nay, but also from the lights of her very eyes—drives men to rape and to war. Helen’s was the, er, face that launched a thousand ships, wasn't it?

In the thousands of years since man figured out that the woman goddess did not become pregnant divinely, but rather as a result of ejaculation out of his own hard pisser into her hairy, wet (or even dry) hole, men as a species, rather than honor women for their sacrifice, have chosen instead to subjugate women by using rape and the threat of pregnancy as weapons against them. Over the past two centuries many women have formally voiced outrage against this treatment; in the Western world the watershed may have been Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792) where she argued that the only real difference between men and women was access to a good education. (She was the mother of Mary Shelley, author of Frankenstein.) A movement was launched!

That we women, after 220 years, are but in the middle of the movement, not the end, is MADDENING to Miss O’.

And that this is as much the fault of other women as of narrow-minded men, if not more, maddens Miss O’ beyond the capacity of any asylum to hold her.

Evolved heterosexual men, such as President Obama and my father, Bernie the retired meat cutter from Iowa, are married to smart, strong women who freely share opinions and ideas along with the child-rearing and chore-doing. And there are a lot of good, honest laughs each day because like my mom and dad, Michelle and Barack Obama clearly love and enjoy and respect each other as humans. You would think that the Obama marriage would be the standard against which all others are judged.

But no. I keep forgetting they are black. In America.

“Mrs. Obama should not bare her arms in public.” Do you remember this outcry from GOP women and men in 2009? No? That’s because Michelle Obama knew these comments came from Conservative, Taliban-esque village idiots—the president joked that year at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner: “Michelle has the right to bare arms,” as she pumped her unclad biceps—thereby declaring she would not flinch at the sleeveless dress or top. No one mentions it now.

And yet still we hear any number of female voices oppressing other females, aside from the otherwise excellent Ariana Huffington's tabloid take on women on her Home Page…

“Well, she can get away with it.”

“No woman should get an abortion! I vote Pro-Life!”

“That little Gold Medalist Gabby Douglas really needs to do something about her hair.”

“Oh, lookee! Spikey-high-heeled shoes that will prevent me from running from an attacker!”

“10 Things Men Can’t Stand About You!”

“Did I scream at you lately that I vote Pro-Life????”

“Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.”

“One can never be too rich or too thin.”

“Thirty Days to a Bikini Body!”

“Jessica’s Dress Is a Red Carpet FAIL!”

“Please, let a politician in Washington, D.C., take away my legal right to my own body! It’s too hot for me to handle by myself!”

The messages all amount to the same thing: If society keeps a woman distracted—by insecurity in her own looks, the inadequacy of her own body for sexual allure, her sense of being too dumb, too powerless—or guilty, using religious winches to pull her head up inside her own womb, or that woman's, over there—then men in power can play money sports all day, whether it’s high-stakes Wall Street gambling or campaigning to take society’s taxes to spend on cronies through a democratic, corporate-run, “free” election. That is the game. And, Ladies, it is a game.

The truth is, too many women do not realize their own power. Years ago, I was playing touch football at a drama picnic when I was a teacher, and I was "covering" the QB, who happened to be the actual QB on the varsity team. He paused. "Miss O', I am genuinely afraid of you." I looked at him, as only Miss O' can, and said, "Because you have no idea what I'm gonna do." And he nodded. Physically, I was no match for him. But it didn't matter.

I really do contend that there is nothing more frightening to a power-hungry, money-lovin’ man than a smart woman who is paying attention, knows her own strength, and, as Churchill might say, past whom nothing gets. So Strategy Number 1 for Men Who Desire Money and Power: Keep the Fillies Down. That's more than half the population, after all. And that works for a while, what with the whole rape and pregnancy threat. (One of these days, we women will engineer a way for men to get pregnant when anally raped by other, larger men, and a new day will dawn.)

Pardon me while I repeat:

Akin for a Fight

Republican Rep. and Missouri senatorial candidate Todd Akin, I am not going down your road today. We’ve spent the past week saying everything that needs saying about your asinine, but wholly honest, comments with regard to women and their inability to govern their own bodies, including understanding when a so-called “rape” has occurred. The Christian Republican truth, like the Taliban truth, is that “rape” could only exist if a woman had a right to her own body. She does not.

Because it just makes so much sense!

Say You, Say Me

What Miss O’ is closing with today is a phenomenon known as Stockholm Syndrome. I think this nation is in the throes of a terrible case of it. Here’s a definition from the Wiki:

Stockholm syndrome, or capture-bonding, is a psychological phenomenon in which hostages express empathy and have positive feelings towards their captors, sometimes to the point of defending them. These feelings are generally considered irrational in light of the danger or risk endured by the victims, who essentially mistake a lack of abuse from their captors for an act of kindness.[1][2] The FBI’s Hostage Barricade Database System shows that roughly 27% of victims show evidence of Stockholm Syndrome.[3]
Stockholm syndrome can be seen as a form of traumatic bonding, which does not necessarily require a hostage scenario, but which describes "strong emotional ties that develop between two persons where one person intermittently harasses, beats, threatens, abuses, or intimidates the other."[4]
Battered-wife syndrome is an example of activating the capture-bonding psychological mechanism, as are military basic training, fraternity bonding by hazing, and sex practices such as sadism/masochism or bondage/discipline.[5][6][7][8]

Here's how I came by my theory: At the time of World War II, America did not have a Military Industrial Complex, as Eisenhower would come to call it (and warn against it in 1960). America, being huge and surrounded not only by two oceans, but by peaceable Mexico and Canada to south and north, respectively, was politically isolationist. Except in our (quiet, here) rape and pillage of the natural resources of less affluent nations, we kept to ourselves as much as possible. Then with WWII came victory through the atom bomb, and U.S.A #1 began its insistent drumbeat.  Just as those global humans who were oppressed by the U.S. would go on to oppress themselves by donning Western suits, tee shirts, or blue jeans—all while drinking stomach-destroying, refreshing Coca Cola as we missioned our Puritan Christian Capitalist ethos through the "good works" of our most pious disciples—we, too, began to identify with ideologies that we sought to snuff out.

This could be great—and, really, it's too bad we didn’t identify with the Native Americans more, for example—but somehow it’s the power-hungry evildoers who draw us in and spark our imaginations, hence a whole syndrome devoted to it. To cite one example: When it comes to women and their rights (to bare arms, to contraception, to legally own their own bodies), Republicans have begun turning into the very Taliban they purport to want to get rid of. How does the oppressor-identification take hold?

However divergent their political espousals, what the Big Three Oppressive Ideologies—Fascism, Communism, and Theocracy—have in common is that in order to take and remain in power, they must do two things: 1) Silence Dissent; and 2) Scapegoat the “Other.” To effect number 1, they must silence first the women, then the writers, then the teachers and artists and thinkers and scientists. To effect number 2, they must scapegoat first the women, then the immigrants, then the Jews (there’s some kind of global law, apparently), then the gays, and, throughout the purges, the schools.

They use myriad tactics. Whether the oppressive regimes buy the media to put out their propaganda, or use military force, or go door to door preaching damnation, the endgame is the same: They have money and power, and education, and you do not.

A final "tactic" is really a psychological accident. With Stockholm Syndrome, the Oppressed come to identify with, and even revere, their Oppressors. That is, the Oppressor manages to convince the Oppressed, "We are more deserving of life than you are; it's our planet. (Feigning pity) Well, maybe we will let you live. You might work for us. If you're lucky."

Hence the current poll numbers indicating that at least half of the citizens of the United States of America, poor and rich, old and young, sick and well, women and men, are seriously considering electing Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan to the White House. How else to explain the success of these candidates if not Stockholm Syndrome? Their party of Republicans employs the usual arsenal of tactics, short only of military force (so far), to assume control: They play fluffer to the masses, riling up racist, anti-immigrant Americans against the black president with the African father, by cracking birther jokes; they promise to cut taxes for the rich while raising taxes on the middle class (to cheers!), putting even more of the nation's private wealth into offshore tax havens; promise to send even more jobs overseas; declare they will cut all social programs, and end any kind of national health care for all citizens, including Medicare and the defunding of the single most important source for preventing unwanted pregnancies through education, Planned Parenthood; deregulate Wall Street; and slash (er, "privatize") Social Security—and the oppressed followers bend over and thank them for the abuse of all their rights, as the oppressors-in-chief-to-be take all their money. All of this sounds like an article in The Onion: Most every news story and headline now causes Miss O' to shake her head: "How can anyone be this stupid?"

Just so, otherwise intelligent women become self-defeating abusers of other women, following the example of these men, whether putting down successful female athletes, artists, thinkers, writers, scientists, and politicians for their looks (Hillary’s hair!), or indulging in the extreme of insisting that no woman should have a legal right to her own body. Such self-hating women have even been indoctrinated into the “Pro-Life” movement, which is nothing less than an “Anti-Woman” movement. You cannot tell these women that their views are not merely uneducated, but also sick and self-destructive, so sure are they, so true is their faith in the egg-sperm conjunction trumping all other aspects of female human life. Well done, Male-Dominated Catholic Church, well-bowled Male-Run Corporate America. While those little Life-Loving fillies are out oppressing other fillies and voting for you, you can take their money. And maybe their jobs. And then, voila!, you have their independence. Here, too, The Onion has too much competition from real life. "Women should not have choices in their lives" is the message, and as Miss O' sees women nodding in agreement, she can only marvel, "How can any woman be this stupid?"

Keep the condescension on "high," and they won’t know what hit ’em. We're goin' to Stockholm!

And thanks to the corporate-owned Media Machine, the would-be oppressors say what they'll do and how they will work to enact it (actual quote from PA Republican House Majority Leader Mike Turzai: "Voter ID is going to allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania. Done."), all in full view of the country and the rest of the planet, interrupted only by commercials urging us to buy stuff we cannot afford. 

Even the act of voting has been made suspect.

Legitimate rape, indeed. Only if we let them get away with it.


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