Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Misogynistic judgements: $0.10/dozen; Madonna-whore complexes: $0.10/dozen; annoying, nonsensical Mastercard-type slogans that try too hard: worthless

I woke up this morning eager to shift the Chris and Robyn (Rihanna) stories down the page because, quite frankly, they threw me into something of a funk yesterday; a funk that was aggravated by the hateful comments of clueless, mean-spirited people in the far corners of the interwebs. But yay(!) for me, I managed to wake up to fresh condemnations of women when I logged into Facebook and saw the following status update from a Facebook friend, NH:
"100 FB pictures wearing next to nothing - $200; 200 FB pictures at every fete in Bim - $400; No FB pictures (or mention) of your kids - Priceless!!"
Robyn was the whipping post of choice yesterday (“she must have pushed him”; “those Caribbean women are mouthy”), and today – in the spirit of egalitarianism – today’s victim is a regular woman who goes to so many parties, it damages NH’s delicate, Facebook voyeurism sensibilities. At least enough for him to employ poor, nonsensical usage of the exhausted Mastercard slogan. (Is $2 the going rate for FB pictures?)

So here we are, almost at the end of the first decade of the twenty-first century, and women’s good time is still being regulated by men. If you’re a mother, you can maybe have Friday night bingo once a month. Here, take this $10 and enjoy. If you’re a wife and mother, you can have a quarter for the candy machine at the supermarket as your entertainment, but only provided you take the children with you, and your husband has run out of things for you to fetch. But how dare you go to an actual party, on an actual weekend, and have an actual alcoholic beverage? What fresh hell is this?

Also implicit in this status is the notion that if a woman has a family, it must be the principal manifestation of who she is. She must wear her children’s faces on T-shirts and preface every sentence with “Well my husband thinks…” A mother is one part of who this woman is, and one aspect of what she does. She doesn’t, after childbirth, become a giant uterus with a pair of lactating boobs attached. And it is certainly her prerogative to show off her weekend entertainment rather than her children, if she so desires.

I pointed the following out to NH in response to his status:
Perhaps she has made a decision not to put her children on FB to suffer the judgement that she herself is obviously subject to.
This started a bit of a dispute, so now I’m going to try to summarize and counter his various arguments that followed, among which was a “*long sigh*”, because clearly I am a little, misguided lady and he is just the big, enlightened man to teach me The Truth.

It’s not a judgment, it’s merely a commentary.
Well, yes, and if I choose to ‘comment’ that someone is a bad mother, then which of the two is that?

A woman who doesn't take care of her family is nothing less than an animal (and even wild animals are totally committed to their offspring).

I pointed out that some animals eat or banish their offspring. But observe the lack of judgement that was mentioned earlier. I asked him what then is a man who doesn’t take care of his family, because presumably these women are out dancing with someone. This was where the long sigh came in, because I am too dim-witted to understand that:

Balance is a universal principAL
(I giggled. I’m sorry. I’m petty, and I accept this) - everything in moderation. If one focuses so much time on hedonism, other aspects of your life will lack the attention needed.
This is true, NH. But the only other aspect on which you commented was her role as a mother. You didn’t say “My! This woman sure parties a lot. I wonder if she manages any teams at work because surely corporate performance will suffer!”

Then there was the due amount of back-pedalling and equivocation:
Men do it too. No one gender is to blame. But please understand that we live in a sexist, double-standard and male-dominated environment. [Please understand, because even though you have lived all your life as a black woman, it might have escaped you.] It's so much harder for women to obtain equal opportunity, and acts like this set their cause back decades.
So women should accept their position as second-class citizens and play by the rules: “You know that we sexists will judge you, so why do you persist in making these poor choices?” More back-pedalling led him to deduce that:

The ratio of absentee fathers to absentee mothers is negatively bias[ed] towards men.
And I didn’t even have to lift a finger on that one. But then the old Madonna-whore affliction surfaces in the last word:

For eons the African woman has been worshipped, revered and idolized as ethereal mother, iconoclast, queen, goddess, scholar, diplomat, scientist, icon, prophet and freedom fighting warrior exalted with and sometimes above her father, husband and brothers. [Insert more wonderful attributes of the African woman. We really are something.] Doesn't the type of behaviour exhibited on Facebook degrade and denigrate her legacy?
Oh is THAT what’s degrading her? Because the last time I went to a party, no one was coming up to me bowing and laying slaughtered goats at my feet. They were all pretty much just trying to rub their members against me and see what combination of lame come-ons and green verbs could get me to go home with them. Or does the veneration start back at their place?

If you want our women to be revered and idolized, why don’t you try starting where you are? I notice you weren’t too disgusted to look at all 300 (was that cumulative? I couldn’t tell) of this woman’s Facebook pictures before you made your condemnation public. So something other than social observation was driving you to click ‘Next’. Surely by picture number 181 you could have surmised that this woman was a harlot and a useless mother. I’m not even going to get into the “maybe she’s with the children all week and takes a break for parties” argument. Because it is irrelevant. We want women to be porn star today, earth mother tomorrow, virgin and whore all at once. It’s getting a little old. I suppose a mother in a fete harshes your vibe and causes your two worlds to collide. Well, that’s your pathology to deal with, not hers.

The photo is by Hansjurgen Bauer. You can view and critique his gallery here.

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