Dave Sim's blogandmail #347 (August 24th, 2007)
Fifteen Impossible Things to Believe Before Breakfast That Make You a Good Feminist
1. A mother who works a full-time job and delegates to strangers the raising of her children eight hours a day, five days a week does just as good a job as a mother who hand-rears her children full time.
2. It makes great sense for the government to pay 10 to 15,000 dollars a year to fund a daycare space for a child so its mother - who pays perhaps 2,000 dollars in taxes - can be a contributing member of society.
3. A woman's doctor has more of a valid claim to participate in the decision to abort a fetus than does the father of that fetus.
4. So long as a woman makes a decision after consulting with her doctor, she is incapable of making an unethical choice.
5. A car with two steering wheels, two gas pedals and two brakes drives more efficiently than a car with one steering wheel, one gas pedal and one brake which is why marriage should always be an equal partnership.
6. It is absolutely necessary for women to be allowed to join or participate fully in any gathering place for men, just as it is absolutely necessary that there be women only environments from which men are excluded.
7. Because it involves taking jobs away from men and giving them to women, affirmative action makes for a fairer and more just society.
8. It is important to have lower physical standards for women firepersons and women policepersons so that, one day, half of all firepersons and policepersons will be women, thus more effectively protecting the safety of the public.
9. Affirmative action at colleges and universities needs to be maintained now that more women than men are being enrolled, in order to keep from giving men an unfair advantage academically.
10. Having ensured that there is no environment for men where women don't belong (see no.6) it is important to have zero tolerance of any expression or action which any woman might regard as sexist to ensure greater freedom for everyone.
11. Only in a society which maintains a level of 95% of alimony and child support being paid by men to women can men and women be considered as equals.
12. An airline stewardess who earned $20,000 a year at the time that she married a baseball player earning $6 million a year is entitled, in the event of a divorce, to $3 million for each year of the marriage and probably more.
13. A man's opinions on how to rear and/or raise a child are invalid because he is not the child's mother. However, his financial obligation is greater because no woman gets pregnant by herself.
14. Disagreeing with any of these statements makes you anti-woman and/or a misogynist.
15. Legislature Seats must be allocated to women and women must be allowed to bypass the democratic winnowing process in order to guarantee female representation and, thereby, make democracy fairer.
A wife and mother wrote to order a copy of LATTER DAYS, CEREBUS 0 and THE GUIDE TO SELF-PUBLISHING…FOR HER! Completely unheard of. Of course eventually she revealed herself to be part of the Donna Barr Scam, named after the STINZ, DESERT PEACH creator who used to tell people that Dave Sim IS a feminist because he's helped so many women cartoonists to self-publish. Check yesterday's Blog & Mail for her complete letter. Here's my response.
Well, "Critty" (she told me I can call her that), I appreciate all your kind words about my work, but I have to say that I think you're on the wrong track here. You have, indeed, chosen to be a wife and mother but now you seem to be trying to back out of it and you seem to be looking for my endorsement for doing so. The fact that you talk about how many things you have to "juggle" is, to me, a bad vital sign. Speaking from experience, a family member knows when they are a family member and valued as such and when they are simply being "juggled". My mother "juggled" her family and wifely obligations all the time that I knew her and everyone was quite aware of the fact that we were being "juggled" for the sake of her secretarial duties and that her secretarial duties weren't being "juggled" for our sake. I can tell you right now, the end of that line is not a happy one. She was almost completely unresponsive at the end there, but she would answer a direct question if you asked her a direct question. One time I asked, "How often do you think about the people you worked with at Queensmount School?" She answered "Not very often" and returned to staring in rapt fascination at everyone bustling up and down the hospital hallway, listening to every snatch of conversation she could overhear.
Well, yes. Nor did the people she worked with at Queensmount – or Laurentian or Forest Hill – think of her. She had been a co-worker. She got a send-off at her retirement that would have made Princess Diana blush for its effusiveness, mounds of letters and cards raving about her abilities, how important she had been in their lives, what a difference she had made.
And then they all forgot her and moved on with their lives.
As she forgot them. Co-workers are not family, the MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW aside.
You see, "Critty", the way the whole thing is set up is that women are intended to be wives and mothers and they do this by being homemakers. They MAKE a home. They don't FAKE a home. We non-mothers are not as unsophisticated as you mothers take us to be. If you are cooking and cleaning and doing whatever else just to get it out of the way so you can get to what interests you then you aren't making a home and if you aren't making a home you don't have a home and no one who lives there thinks of it as a home. Everyone is just going through the motions and living under the same roof pretending to be feminists with either male or female genitalia.
I had no connection with my mother whatsoever. My connection was to comic books. My mother had no connection with me. Her connection was with Queensmount School. This only stood out in sharp relief after she retired and suddenly realized that there was no place for her. Not in a hostile, aggressive way, but just in a "this has always been the situation, why would it change now?" way. I had my life, my sister had her life, my Dad had his life and my mother had…well, she didn't have a home in the sense that her mother had a home, because she hadn't made a home. She thought she would just be included in my Dad's golfing outings with his pals from Budd Automotive from which he had retired some years earlier. She brought up the subject in front of me -- years after the fact -- when I was over there, I suspect hoping that I would arbitrate and tell my Dad that he has to take her with him when he and his friends go out to shoot a bucket of balls. Sure, if the other guys were bringing their wives, then it was a husband-and-wife gig. But it was just the guys. You could put bamboo shoots under my Dad's fingernails and, understandably, you couldn't make him bring his wife along on a guy's-only golf gig. You could put bamboo shoots under my own fingernails and you couldn't make me tell him to do so.
Part of her hoped I would hire her as the company secretary. She was certainly competent – unbelievably competent -- but as I explained to her, I didn't think that would be fair to Gerhard, anymore than it would be fair to me if we had hired Gerhard's mother (assuming she had been a secretary and not a homemaker): whoever had the job had to be unrelated to either of us. She said the reason that I wouldn't hire her is because I was ashamed to work with my mother. All I could do is repeat what I had to say. It wasn't a cover story. I don't DO cover stories. You ask me a question, I will give you a completely honest answer. It was strange to see her thinking that there was some connection between us in a traditional sense such that any emotion like shame would enter into my response or that shame would lead to guilt would lead to capitulation. Which, had she been the person who made my boyhood home, it might well have done. But she wasn't. She was just one of the four people who lived at 282 Westmount Rd. E. and "did their own thing".
I wasn't ashamed to work with my mother. I was wary of maternal favouritism, that she would favour me as her son over her other boss, Gerhard, who wasn't her son.
When we hired Carol West, after a few weeks my mother said something like, "So you like her." And I said, "`Liking' doesn't enter into it. She's got a certain number of jobs to do and she does them efficiently." Whereupon she repeated, "So you like her." This time my father had to repeat what I had said. Years later, I realized that what she was saying was "You like her better than me." No. I liked them about the same but I knew they were both feminists so I trusted them about as far as I could throw them.
She and my father lived under the same roof and my sister and I counted ourselves lucky that we didn't have to.
Are homemakers taken for granted? Oh, unquestionably. That's a big part of being a homemaker. If you expect people to come home and rave about how clean the living room is, you're definitely in the wrong line of work. From a very early age, human beings naturally quest outside of the home, finding their pleasures where and when they can find them and taking the home for granted. It's literally true that you can start cleaning at one end of the house and by the time you're done it's time to start cleaning back at the beginning again. "A man works from sun to sun, but a woman's work is never done." If she does it properly, that's entirely true. But most women don't do it properly. They do it the way your mother did it: largely, not at all.
In your own case, if you put all of your time and energy into making a home there are any number of occasions when you're going to feel completely unappreciated, passed over and ignored. But, in the case of your daughter, let's say, it's a matter of Being There. For months if not years on end she can tromp right past you without even noticing that you're there. The point is not to have her come home every day and say, "Gosh, Mom. The house looks swell." No, the point is to be there on that occasion when her attempt to conquer the world in a masculine fashion went wrong, when instead of coming home in full-strong-and-independent-woman-mode she comes limping home…or, rather, limping Home. Because that's where it gets its capital letter from. When you Need Someone to be there, someone Is There. And, if you've chosen to be a full-time homemaker, you'll actually have something to tell her: making a home for my husband and daughter is what's important to me. God gave you free will and if you think something else will make you happy, hey, go for it. But, in the long term, as Dorothy said, "There's no place like home." It's surprising how much every woman in our culture identifies with Dorothy and yet completely ignores the core lesson that she, ultimately and quite tearfully, learned.
If you live your life as if your job is to discharge your cooking and cleaning obligations and from that point on it's just a matter of where and when your itinerary meshes with your child's – oh, if only you could have had a crisis yesterday: yesterday I was home from three o'clock on – then all you can hope to produce is a child who thinks the same way. If you "juggle" someone, they will "juggle" you. Not out of revenge, but because it's the only reality that they know because it's the only reality they've experienced.
I don't think it was like this before, "Critty". Men knew they were men and women knew they were women, children knew they were children and everyone had a Home to go to and it was the wives and mothers who made it that. You're certainly welcome to delude yourself that you "juggle" your husband and daughter on a priority basis (my mother would have said that she did the same: she didn't. She lived for getting to her secretary's desk in the morning and everyone who knew her knew that was true.) while you secretly make time for what you actually care about: your self-published comic book, but you really do need to prepare yourself for being absolutely alone when you're old. Even if you and your husband are still living together. Picture what that will be like.
I hate to ask how old your daughter is because it may already be too late. Everyone needs importance in their life. Some people are important to their mothers and some people aren't important to their mothers but I think I'm safe in saying that everyone knows whether they are or not. Those who know they aren't important to their mothers learn very young to seek that necessary importance elsewhere. "I may not be important, but I can make this thing over here important enough to compensate for that."
Assuming that it isn't already too late – and I hope it isn't -- I really can't be a party to helping you to make something more important to you than your husband and your daughter. If you hadn't told me your situation, I would have sent you THE GUIDE TO SELF-PUBLISHING, but now I just can't. So, I'm sending you a gold logo CEREBUS 0 with a sketch in it instead of a white logo with no sketch in it – I even found one in the pile that Gerhard had signed!.
I hope this makes us even, but if you don't think it does, let me know if there are some back issues that you want or something like that and I'll be happy to send them to you.
Tomorrow: Back to answering the mail chronologically.
REPLIES POSTED ON THE CEREBUS YAHOO! GROUP
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