Sunday, September 24, 2006

Ideas Once Radical

I didn't start out a feminist blogger. I'm not sure this blog qualifies as a feminist blog even now--surely I'd be blogging more about feminist issues and less about, say, my idiotic personal life, if it did? If this is a feminist blog it isn't a very good one yet. I'm still working on it.

But what I've written about has certainly changed over the years, and for giving me the big push feministward I can actually credit one person: Right Wing News' John Hawkins, in response to whom I wrote this. I'd be prouder of the fact that it's the top result for searches on the phrase "death of sexism" if I didn't cringe so much re-reading it.

I cringe because in that post I'm doing something I've seen too many right-wing women do: To borrow from (heaven help me) literature on codependency, I am trying to take care of another's feelings while setting a boundary. I'm trying to reassure Hawkins that this isn't some nasty radfem hollering at him--look how I try to establish conservative cred by digging at Clinton--at the same time that I'm trying to assert the right of women writers on the web to be evaluated on their writing, not their appearances.

A book on codependency, a book on treating yourself as an actor instead of a reactor, as a human being instead of a parasite, will tell you, if it is any good, that you can't simultaneously take care of, or assume responsibility for, someone else's feelings, at the same time that you're trying to set a boundary in your relationship with that person.

It isn't the job of the person saying "Here's where I draw the line" to say also, "I mean, if that's okay with you?" It isn't the job of the person saying "So far and no further" to lard that statement up with compassion and understanding and weaselly attempts to forestall an angry reaction from the other party. Sometimes a dab of the old lard of compassion can help make the boundary easier for the other person to accept; that isn't what I'm against. I'm against the idea that it is the responsibility and the obligation of the boundary-setter to do everything in her power to put the boundary-violator at ease.

I am against this because it is at heart manipulative; who are you to deny and soothe away another person's feelings? Are you that person's mother? Did that person ask for your nurturing? Isn't it very presumptuous of you to assume they require it?

But I am even more against it because it doesn't work. It doesn't work because, if the offender was initially willing to hear what you were saying, she will only resent your assumption that she would have been hostile to it. If the offender was initially unwilling to hear what you were saying it's even worse, for now she has a button of yours to push. That button is labeled GUILT.

And that is why any argument begun from "I'm not one of those nasty man-hating feminists, but . . ." is doomed to fail. In the case of my go-round with Hawkins, it went like this:

Me: "I'm not a nasty man-hating feminist--boo Clinton!--but I think you are dumb for telling women to use their attractiveness to get recognition for their work."

Hawkins and assorted commenters: "Ha! What a cranky, fat old lesbian!"

It's a reaction that shouldn't have surprised me, but it did.

I'm less easily surprised by this attitude from right-wing men these days, having had the scales ripped from my eyes on several occasions since then. So I can't claim surprise that Hawkins is up to his old tricks:

There's this attitude out there, a perception, that there's something wrong with beautiful women using their looks to draw readers. The idea is supposed to be that it's all about their brains, it's all about their writing, that it's cheap or improper for them to have guys checking out their web pages just to ogle them.

That's bullcrap.

We all have different advantages and disadvantages. Some people started blogging earlier than others did. Some just plain old have more talent than others. Other people made a name for themselves in the mainstream media and benefitted from that when they came into the blogosphere. Some people are just great at social networking and get links that way. Then there are people who just, for whatever, get linked over and over again by other big bloggers. You can go on and on and on with this.

Long story short, we all have different strengths and weaknesses and life isn't fair. If you're a female blogger and one of your strengths is your looks, there's nothing wrong with trying to look sexy to entice guys over to your page. Nothing. At. All. If you've got it, flaunt it, and enjoy the increased traffic.

Hey, you know what's really bullcrap? Having women on your side of the aisle tell you for literally years that your attitude offends them and still having no better rebuttal to them than "Suck it up, ladies. Men like to ogle and it is our God-given right to. I think it's in the Constitution, even."

Hawkins is a dolt. This does not need to be reestablished, for crying out loud. We don't make schoolchildren prove repeatedly that three is less than five and we don't need to agonize over the formal logical proof that John Hawkins is no friend to women. The man's record speaks for itself, and the occasional crumbs of blog traffic he throws to a select handful of acquiescent women bloggers do not obscure it.

Beth of My Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy wrote about Hawkins' special brand of constipated bullcrap last week:

I don’t know why I bother with this shit. You know, I don’t plaster my fucking mugshot all over this blog because I don’t want the kind of readers that only come here for the fucking human decoration. I suppose if I were a whore, as apparently women are expected to be, I would use my face and body for a payoff. But I don’t. Maybe that’s acceptable in your world, but it isn’t in mine. Frankly, I find the constant objectification of women at RWN and a couple other blogs sleazy and creepy, not to mention out of place on what is supposedly a political site. Apparently you think women have so little to say of import that we SHOULD show some skin to boost our traffic–that no matter what we actually have to SAY, our looks trump (tramp) it.

And Beth's going to kill me for putting it this way, but I feel her pain here:

To tell y’all the truth, I’ve written this post in countless different ways over the last two and a half years, and each time I’ve deleted it. I don’t know why I did–I guess I just felt that I don’t need the headache. But now, I don’t even care. I know I’m going to take heat for this post, and it’s goddamned pathetic that I have to hear any crap about it. More than that, it’s EMBARRASSING. I’m tired of leftards saying conservatives are sexist pigs and keeping my mouth shut on the occasions that they’re right (which honestly isn’t often, but there are those who deserve the appellation). This time, the only way the aggravation (and really, the slap in the face) is going to subside is by NOT deleting this post.

Congratulations, Beth, you figured it out: Appeasement doesn't change anything.

Beth references something else from last week: Ann Althouse's catty criticisms of Jessica Valenti. Beth labels that the "Stupidest. Blogfight. Ever," and I can see why she might feel that way, but here's why I disagree with that assessment: Because it's the same thing Beth's upset about now. It is the same exact thing. It is the advancement of what many of us supposed was a long-dead idea: That women deserve to be judged first and foremost by their looks. This idea cannot be smacked down enough because I don't know if you've noticed, but it's making a resurgence. It wasn't Jessica's job to laugh it off and ignore it, anymore than it's Beth's job to delete her post because it is might offend a few douchebags or bring her further headache.

If there's one thing I've been dying to say to right-wing women it is this: You have rights, damnit. Assert them! I don't care what your positions on abortion or health care or foreign policy are; ASSERT YOUR RIGHTS. You are not obligated to temper or moderate your feelings about having those rights disrespected. Nor are you wrong to wonder that it keeps happening. It keeps happening not because men are inherently evil--as the strawfeminism argument likes to have it--but because fully accepting women's humanity requires men to surrender some privilege.

It is that privilege that says they need not post pictures, but you must; that says they are assumed rational until proven otherwise, but you are assumed emotional until proven rational; that says their preferences in reading material are the norm, but yours are merely specialized "women's issues."

Not all men will surrender these privileges willingly. I think an exchange I had with a lovely commenter named, of all things, Harvey Jerkwater, during Blog Against the Strawfeminist Week was illuminating in this regard. Harvey said,

To recognize yourself as being in a position of unfair superiority is hard. To grow up hearing that men have unfair advantages, that one's position in life is, in no small part, unearned, is a hard, hard pill to swallow. When you're told this sort of thing, it takes conscious effort not to be resentful.

I promptly told Harvey I didn't see why that should be my problem:

That makes every bit of sense, Harvey; thank you. I confess, though, that I usually see this as simply not my problem. I don't know a good "middle way" between telling a guy "tough shit, fella, that 'power' was never yours to begin with" and trying to be all kinds of placating: "There, there, I'm really sorry I stepped on your privilege."

And Harvey cheerfully agreed, bless him:

As far as it not being your problem, absolutely. Completely. It isn't. It's their damn problem.

The reason I commented was that I find when you're arguing with somebody, it helps if you know where they're coming from. When I debate politics, it helps to know how the other side sees itself, and why it believes what it does.

That makes it a lot easier to completely dismantle them in arguments. If you can show a doofus exactly how he's being a doofus in his own language, well...the look on the doofus's face as recognition dawns is f'n priceless.

Just another weapon in the arsenal, yo.

Harvey's right: It's another weapon in the arsenal. Right-wing women should not hesitate to use it against those who won't recognize their humanity. This is a hard thing for some conservative women to accept, though for the record, I don't think Beth's among them. I've never seen Beth flinch from accepting ugly facts. And the ugly fact is, men like John Hawkins are unlikely ever to surrender their sense of entitlement to women's bodies. That's the bad news.

The good news is that women on the right need feel no obligation to assume responsibility for the feelings of John Hawkins, or any others like him. It's out of your hands, Cotillionites. You've said something offends you and he's said he doesn't give a fuck. If any of you are still tying yourselves up in knots trying to understand and empathize and compromise then may I suggest a different hobby? One that might actually produce something tangible at the end of it?

Do not let John Hawkins set the agenda. This is a sort of Overton Window at work. You remember the Overton Window?

Step by step, ideas that were once radical or unthinkable -- homeschooling, tuition tax credits, and vouchers -- have moved into normal public discourse. Homeschooling is popular, tuition tax credits are sensible, and vouchers are acceptable. (On the latter, they've been soundly defeated in Michigan of late, but the point is that they are a part of normal public and political discourse.) The de facto illegality of homeschooling, by contrast, has gone the way of the dodo. The conscious decision to shift the Overton window is yielding its results.

Ideas that were once radical or unthinkable, like the idea that women should be judged in terms of their utility to men, have moved into the normal public discourse. It is the responsibility of those who want to move those ideas right back out to get in there and start tugging. And that's why I have mad respect for Beth, because Beth got in there.

My question to other right-wing women is, are you with her?

38 comments:

Beth said...

Wow, thanks, Ilyka! Of course you know what you have to say on the matter means a lot to me.

One thing:

It wasn't Jessica's job to laugh it off and ignore it, anymore than it's Beth's job to delete her post

You're right about the Valenti/Althouse thing, and my thought that I'd just ignore it is wrong. Althouse not only made a complete fool of herself, I have to wonder what her motivation was in writing such a dumb thing. To get cred with the slobs that only noticed Jessica's boobs? Pathetic. And you know I cannot STAND Clinton, but I can't excuse it as just a slap at him. She could have found a million different ways to take a gratuitous dig without dragging Jessica Valenti into it, especially so crudely. But then again, I'm not the least bit surprised that she would do that. It's not the first time she's made unthinking remarks and then tried to defend them without having anything to stand on (and hilariously, she tries to deflect criticism by calling herself a feminist! LOL!). My thinking was actually more, "that twit's not worth my time," but your point is correct.

It is that privilege that says they need not post pictures, but you must; that says they are assumed rational until proven otherwise, but you are assumed emotional until proven rational; that says their preferences in reading material are the norm, but yours are merely specialized "women's issues."

SPOT ON. And when we complain, there's something WRONG with us. THAT'S bullcrap.

I really don't give a rat's ass if they think I'm an old, ugly, fat, hairy-legged, man-hating, "goddess"-worshipping, lefty radical feminist (all of which I was called). Their opinions aren't worth shit to me. BUT I do mind that they think that's the only kind of person that thinks like that. Like if you aren't one or all of the above, you don't really care about being treated with basic respect. Of course, they don't have a clue what "respect" is--they seem to think that lecherous comments about one's appearance is "respect." I've said it repeatedly: is that how they think their mothers or daughters should be treated?

And I am SO tired of hearing "we can't help it." SO tired of it. There are lots of things we "can't help" feeling, but we don't act on them in civilized society. I'd like to punch those tards in the face in my primal feelings, but I'm a civilized human being--not an ape--so I wouldn't. What's the difference? And aren't these guys supposed to be conservatives and/or libertardians, saying personal responsibility is paramount? And I'll bet some of them are the same ones who say homosexuality is a "learned behavior" as well, that they can resist it. But they can't do the same!

I also get pissed when I hear (all too often) other women making excuses or apologies for such behavior. I'm not sure if it's because they want to be thought of as objects, or if they're just plain old sucking up. Either way, it sucks. Just like when women--especially young women--talk about feminism as though it's been the Worst Thing to Happen to America. Clearly, they never talked to their mothers or grandmothers. Clearly, they don't understand what "feminism" is about at all. (The left is somewhat to blame for this common misconception, but if one isn't stupid, you can figure out that feminism is bigger than partisanship.) And so, they just knee-jerk react to anything that hints at "feminism" for fear of being labeled a "feminist," and the misogynists get away with being misogynists. Pffft.

I'm actually kind of surprised that I got as many "hell yeahs" from people on "our side," including from men. I HOPE they aren't quick to forget it, but then I don't have slobbering moron pigs as regular readers like Hawkins apparently does (did you SEE the comments in his post? Sickening!).

An hilarious irony: the fact that some people (JH's commenters) seem to take John Hawkins--a middle-aged guy who apparently doesn't (ever) have a girlfriend, much less a wife--as an authority on women. Priceless! (Misery loves company?)

;-)

Beth said...

Shit. That was an appallingly LONG comment.

ilyka said...

Shit, it was an appallingly long POST, are you kidding?

Beth said...

Nah, not too long a post. Long posts are fine when they have a point. ;-)

Comments, though--yeesh. I should have just written a post and linked it here.

belledame222 said...

Preach it!

Darleen said...

I'm sure, Ilyka, you know I was right there in the thick of that thread beating Hawkins and some of other mooks about the head and shoulders.

Mooks exist on both sides of the aisle, as do actual MEN. Mooks use whatever camp they are in to get what they want ... boobies, sex, a cooked meal ... without bothering to do any kind of human reciprocation.

ilyka said...

Hey, I actually DIDN'T know--I sorta refused to read his damn comments on the grounds that it was too nice a day (beautiful here, actually). But if you're in there giving him his due ration of shit I'll check 'em out.

Darleen said...

Ilyka.... look for the asswipe named "Clay"

I think he's Hawkins cousin or sumpthin...he sure acts like a homeboy

;-)

Gower, Voice of Reason said...

Isn't that like asking when you'll take that stand against Atlas Juggs?

...still waiting

Susan B. said...

My question to other right-wing women is, are you with her?

You bet I am! I let Beth know in her comments and I'm saying it here as well. Hawkins and his commenters are a bunch of knuckledraggers.

From Beth: And I am SO tired of hearing "we can't help it." SO tired of it. There are lots of things we "can't help" feeling, but we don't act on them in civilized society.

I'm tired of this too the whole "hey we're guys and we like to look at boobies - why is that so bad" thing. There is a good reason why Someone said two thousand years ago that if you merely look at a woman with lust you have committed adultery in your heart. Basically, that Someone was saying it is your responsibility to control yourself and that you should control yourself.

Darleen said...

Susan B

Nuance was lost on the mooks at Hawkin's clubhouse ... some of my comments:
-----------
Adults can be sexually flirtatous and risque. Adult women can be ribald and enjoy the admiration of men. Hell, a bunch of us women already demonstrated with a gallery of our boobies that if we wanted to do Tits for Traffic, we could wipe the board of current boobie bloggers.

But when women of substance are urged to show us yer tits! to boost traffic, then the message we hear is that our reasoning, our values, our writing is just not as important or worthy than the size, shape and presentation of our breasts.

My husband was involved in the rock music biz for years, where girls flashing their tits and giving BJ's for backstage passes (and to count coup) is SOP. Somewhere along the line, both males and females mature out of that demeaning behavior. He notes the difference between men and boys is that men may look, but they don't elevate looks to the same value, or greater value, than what is in a woman's heart and brain.
-----------
And
---------
As was mentioned before, I don't believe it was just women who were annoyed that when the dinosaur media looked around to get feature "the" female blogger, they went to Wonkette .. who dealt in D.C. gossip and assf*cking. It was a backhanded way to dismiss all female bloggers as unserious and not worthy of joining the big boys in the media by using her as the "standard" face of female blogging.

Mommy Sheehan has whored for media attention by posing on her dead son's grave. Her choice, and we rightfully can judge her on her disengenuous actions to drag out her fifteen minutes as much as possible.

There is as much difference between women bloggers who are comfortable in their adult sexuality, who are not afraid to discuss it or even engage in humor about it and the traffickers of their own tits as there is between Katherine Hepburn in her prime and Anna Nicole Smith.

And there is a world of difference between acknowledging a woman as attractive including making admiring comments and acting like one of a bunch of thuggish teen males standing on a sidewalk hooting obscenities and grabbing their crotches when a woman walks by.
------------

I contend the difference between men and boys is a hell of a lot more than the price of their toys.

Moira Breen said...

Oh come now, ladies. Everyone knows that it is a profound conservative value, and the height of manly virtue to

1) conduct oneself in public like a sniggering adolescent jackass, regardless of age. and

2) always indulge your desire to talk about women in terms of T&A, no matter the venue. A real man knows that possessing a sense of "a time and a place for everything" is for pussies.

No. "2" marks you as particularly admirable, because nothing says "I am a man of courage" like speaking disrespectfully about women, around women. Because a man just has to tell the truth, at all times, about the reaction of his dick to any given stimulus. It's so typical of women that you want to suppress the truth about this fascinating subject.

(Just had an peripheral thought here: How much overlap is there between

1) the subset of men chronically attributing to themselves the possession of the virtue of manly forthrightness, of bravely speaking the unvarnished truth, damn the consequences, and how much nobler they are than nicey-nice women, who only care about consensus and their feeeeeelings, and not the truth

and

2)the subset of men chronically screeching those "honey vs. vinegar" instructions at women, admonishing them to at all costs never tell it like it us, but to always be nicey-nice and put certain delicate egos ahead of any considerations of fact and truth.

((Then there's the question of the overlap with set 3 - those people who are fine with straightforward, nay downright nasty and vituperative females, as long as the vituperation is in the service of something they themselves agree with and approve of. Otherwise you're a fat ugly dyke.)))

OK, sorry for wandering off the trail here. I just happened to be musing about that, and the topics are related. Thanks, Ilyka and Beth. (And nice work, previous commenters.) I'll see if I can pound out a post re this post at my place today.

Darleen said...

moira

How is what you charge is a "conservative" value?

What, you've never seen left-winger mooks? You've known a leftwinger male pull the "but I thought you were a liberated woman... so let's fuck" line?

Do you think male rappers, rockers, casting directors, actors, et al, are rightwingers?

Obnoxious behavior is not a partisan "value"

good.lord.

Moira Breen said...

Darleen,

I am a conservative.

Ilyka and Beth happened to be discussing a right-wing, "conservative" blogger. That's what I was commenting on.

What, you've never seen left-winger mooks? You've known a leftwinger male pull the "but I thought you were a liberated woman... so let's fuck" line?

Oh dear me, yes. I have extensive mental archives of egregious, thick-skulled sexist behavior on the part of groovy liberal guys, going all the way back to the swingin' seventies. I like to think they helped make me the tight-ass reactionary I am today.

ilyka said...

Moira, if you write something up definitely drop me a link. This killed me:

Because a man just has to tell the truth, at all times, about the reaction of his dick to any given stimulus. It's so typical of women that you want to suppress the truth about this fascinating subject.

We're truth-haters! What can we say?

ilyka said...

Oh, Darleen, I'm going through the thread now and I'm so far impressed that there actually are a couple guys in there who are telling Hawkins to cool it. Progress, of a sort.

We'll see how long it lasts. Still up in the first 10 comments or so here.

ilyka said...

Then again, this guy's just incoherent:

I really don't care what Clinton did, good for him getting some.

My problem is with the feminists, that sat out.


So, what Clinton did was no problem, but feminists were obligated to consider it a huge problem, at which point our comma-loving commenter would have . . . applauded feminists for taking a consistent stand based on their beliefs?

Ooh, you know?--Somehow I'm thinking that's not the correct answer. It's like he's upset that feminists weren't harder on Clinton (yeah yeah yeah I know) because it deprived him of another opportunity to mock feminists.

And yet despite this he has managed to do so anyway. Well, I'm convinced!

ilyka said...

And I gotta say, whatever anyone thinks of her parents I cannot STAND folks bringing Chelsea into it:

I always thought that Chelsea started out as a stain Bill left on Hillary's panties when she wasn't looking...

Truly this guy is the intellectual heir to Bill Buckley. You recall of course all the similar columns he wrote speculating about the conception of John-John?

Geeeeeeeeeeeeez.

ilyka said...

And a dude speculating about an incestuous relationship between Bill and Chelsea.

Tell me why anyone reads this worthless shit again? Tell me why Baldilocks has written post after blathering post DEFENDING this shitstain again?

Darleen said...

moira

My apologies, I thought you were making a general, rather than specific, statement.

Had a good giggle at your swinging 70's reference. We got the pill, we were told we are "the same" as men and the mooks didn't miss a beat ... if you didn't "put out" you weren't "with it".

Darleen said...

ilyka

long before I had a blogs and I was on Yahoo message boards ... I went after ANY poster who tried to drag Chelsea into any political discussion. Bill and Hill are fair game..they have chosen to be live life in the political fishbowl.

Not so Chelsea or the Bush twins.

Non-political offspring are not legitimate targets. Period.

ilyka said...

Exactly. I mean, I know she isn't a kid anymore and if someone wants to disagree with her about whatever she's up to (what IS she up to? I have no idea), fine, fair game. But that's worlds away from "Ooh, d'ya think Bill fucked his own daughter?" Try not to project your own sick fantasies onto everyone else there, commenter! 'preciate it!

Auguste said...

Non-political offspring are not legitimate targets.

Agreed, and the modifier is important. (Viz. Mary Cheney or Krist(e/in) Gore)

JD said...

I think there's a small window of legitimate ripping on Jenna and Barb, because they gave that horrifyingly awful speech at the convention. (Did Chelsea ever give speeches? I dunno. But, if so, I bet it wasn't so mock-worthy.)

I've also seen some debate (Okay, okay . . . it was started by me) about whether the fact that so many young Bushes have had drug, alcohol, and criminal incidents, y'know, says something about the larger family that might be relevant. I got a bug up my butt about this when Jeb Bush said, "We should have punishment being the overriding philosophy in how we deal with children.", and then Noelle went and showed us how great that philosophy worked on her.

Darleen said...

jd

:::sigh:::

Do you have kids? Do you remember being a teen?

Moira Breen said...

Ilyka - post up, at the top of the blog. Sorry if it loads slowly; we have the "what I did on my summer vacation" pics up.

Darleen - no prob. As you suggest, the Mook Party - it's a big tent. (And ah, the late seventies. I was sooo not with it.)

Beth said...

Everyone knows that it is a profound conservative value,

I got what you meant, Moira. That's just it--if you expect to be treated with respect, as a thinking human being, you're a moonbat? That's exactly what those idiots are saying. Nice way to present "our side." And they wonder WHY conservatives are constantly painted as sexists! I'm not surprised, though; it doesn't take much imagination or intelligence to be of their mindset.

Also: you forgot another subset--those who think there's "no good women" out there and have no girlfriend/wife because of it. Funny how that works, isn't it? ;-)

What's Chelsea doing these days? Last I heard, a year or two ago, she was running with Madonna and Gwyneth and Donatella. Such ambition! (eyeroll) I'm sure that makes Mom proud! (It's fine with me, of course--the last thing I care to see is another Clinton in politics!)

Thanks for the post, Moira!

ilyka said...

Also: you forgot another subset--those who think there's "no good women" out there and have no girlfriend/wife because of it. Funny how that works, isn't it? ;-)

Anymore when someone starts that routine I just auto-translate it mentally to "there are no women out there masochistic enough to put up with my lazy ass."

Last I heard, a year or two ago, she was running with Madonna and Gwyneth and Donatella.

Those are three celebrities I reserve the right to mock mercilessly. Are you listening, Gower?

Tyrone said...

Ya know, being politically slantways (such as myself), I generally amused when feminism and politics come up. I'm amused because it's so damn simple:

Men and women are both human beings.

That is an universal truth that has guided me since I started liking the ladies. And one that my father hammered home many times. That universal truth simply bounces of the titanium skulls of a sizable number of men. Yes, I'm attracted physically to women (saw my wife in a track uniform back in the day that drove me crazy). But that is an aspect not a whole. And for the life of me, I just don't see how we fellas miss that point. Physical appearance is not the whole.

I've been married 13 years not because my wife is fine as aged wine, but because we click. That woman just gets me. And I almost get her (which she says is awesome since we never really figure woman out but so what). Her feminine spirit has me. And that is beyond the physical.

Reading a blog by a person shows you what they are thinking. Sometimes you see glimpses of their soul. A little picture in the corner isn't going to make me come back. That's just so like the past.

T-Steel said...

OOPS! Used the wrong blogger profile above. hahaha!

JD said...

Darleen: Sorry, I forgot about this thread.

"Do you remember being a teen?"

Oh, my, yes. Here's the short version.

In childhood, I remember my parents taking a very liberal approach: Answer every question, explain their decisions, engage us in arguments about whether it was fair or not. And the result was two kids making mostly A's in Advanced classes, full church participation, and (in my case) Boy Scouts.

We became teenagers in the 1980s. The media was scaring parents silly about all the drugs their teens were almost certaintly doing, and "tough love" was in vogue. End of an era, man. Reagan Revolution, and all that.

Overnight, it seemed, my parents became hardasses. The new game was Bad-Cop/Psycho-Cop. Suddenly my getting a "B" in Advanced English was cause for shaming and punishment, rather than celebration of the fact that, hey, I was passing my Advanced classes.

Oh, and they were very definitely convinced that one or both of us were on drugs.

Soon enough, we were. As long as you're gettin' punished, you might as well have the fun of the crime, right?

My parents had two great kids, and fucked 'em up with high-pressure hardassery. Even now, at 35, when I find myself reluctant to take care of business, I have to ask myself, "Are you just fucking up your life on purpose to get back at Mom and Dad, you ass?"

No, I don't believe teenagers are independent Agents Of Chaos, and I don't believe punishment should be our "overriding philosophy" in dealing with them. Teenagers are reactionary, and representative of their parents's approach to raising them. In other words, YES, parents, YOU are responsible for the kind of teenage child you wind up with!

Hope that answers your question!

ilyka said...

Thanks, man. You know that's all the stuff I don't have the nerve to say.

ilyka said...

I have to ask myself, "Are you just fucking up your life on purpose to get back at Mom and Dad, you ass?"

And--yeah. Just exactly.

belledame222 said...

Yeup. Simply standing everything on its head doesn't get you very far. You can run away to join the circus, but unless you've taken a good hard look at what it is you're actually running away from, you'll find you've taken it with you, ultimately.

JD said...

"Thanks, man. You know that's all the stuff I don't have the nerve to say."

Well, shit. It's your blog, and you're using a pseudonym. Why the hell not?

ilyka said...

Eh. You know I don't do the personal-personal. I'll do the trivial-personal, but not the personal-personal.

ilyka said...

You can run away to join the circus, but unless you've taken a good hard look at what it is you're actually running away from, you'll find you've taken it with you, ultimately.

Sometimes even if you do look hard. :) Baggage is awfully persistent.

belledame222 said...

true dat.