Dave Sim's blogandmail #454 (December 9th, 2007)
Continuing my reply to Asa Maria Larsson on her attempt to refute #1 of the Fifteen Impossible Things to Believe Before Breakfast:
"Women have always, always worked." I quite agree. I hold "A man works from sun to sun but a woman's work is never done" to be a self-evident truth. What you are evading, though, in my view is the nature of that work, historically speaking. To reinforce the idea that both genders work at the same jobs and in the same way and always have, you have to go back to pre-agrarian and agrarian societies. Which is, again, a protected free-will choice if you can talk enough people into going along with it. I think where you are meeting natural and sensible resistance is in your plan to turn a large corner office on the thirty-fifth floor of the Merrill Lynch building in midtown Manhattan into Chuckles the Retiree Clown's Happy Daytime Home For Abandoned Working Hours Orphans because an approximation of that model worked back in the 1400s on feudal farms. Again, the societal dynamic doesn't favour you. Offices are proliferating in a wide variety of sizes but – as with all other forms of Marxism (communes, collectives, farming co-ops, etc.) Marxism only tends to work at the smallest imaginable size and only where ideology supersedes common sense. If your girlfriend Trixie has two kids and a job on the thirty-fifth floor of Merrill Lynch and you have a home office and Trixie can talk you into taking care of both your kids and hers because your environment is within the scale at which Marxism works and Merrill Lynch isn't, well, good for Trixie. And good for you if your devotion to Marxism as the ideal model of political structure supersedes your common sense so that you are willing to do your two jobs (your business job and rearing your kids) and half of Trixie's job (rearing her kids) while letting Trixie just do half of her job (whatever they're paying her to do at Merrill Lynch).
I think you reveal far more about yourself and the intrinsic emptiness of the Marxist-feminist sensibility than you do about actual full-time mothers when you write about mothers who "sit around drinking tea and chatting and heating up a dinner in the oven by evening." If you are a Marxist-feminist, already fully indoctrinated to and toeing the line of Marxist-feminist party policy – that is, to abandon virtually everything that has been identified with femininity throughout history – (which I assume you are in portraying homemaking in the way that you do) and consequently you don't bake, you don't sew, you don't knit, you don't mend, you don't darn, you don't garden, you don't crochet, you don't do household crafts, you don't put up preserves, you don't flower arrange, and you do only the absolute minimum (and usually less) when it comes to the basics like dusting, cleaning, washing, waxing, polishing preferring to just lounge in your Oprah-inspired victimology nurturing your resentments of what the patriarchy has forced you to do (sit around drinking tea and chatting and heating up a dinner in the oven by evening)…
(sorry, Asa but you're the one who threw that pitch and it's definitely a hanging fastball out over the plate, so please forgive me for pausing here to – in a distinctly unchivalrous fashion -- really crank my swing and drive that over the fence in right field)
See, for an actual wife, an actual mother rather than the Marxist-feminist "good enough for government work" approximation you are trying to make co-equivalent to her, there is a different term for that. See, in the context of an actual wife and an actual mother it isn't a matter of "heating up" "A" "dinner" "in the oven". It's a matter of what used to be called, back before feministic giantesses trod the earth, cooking.
(To be fair the dictionary definition does share your own Marxist-feminist minimalist frame of reference: cooking – to prepare food for eating by a heating process. However, I hope we can agree that there is a distinction between throwing Boil In A Bag whatever into a pot of water, zapping something in the microwave or heating up a dinner in the oven and – my own frame of reference – the preparation of a variety of foods selected for their nutritional value and, by means of culinary skill, to enhance and enrich their appeal to the human palate through a long and engaging process of trial and error until an optimum level of appeal over the course of years – individuated for the palates of ONE wife and mother family -- is achieved.)
I think I'm safe in saying that cooking is a foremost element in the creation of a home, otherwise we wouldn't all automatically know the difference between a home-cooked meal and a non-home-cooked meal. As someone who has no facility for the heating of food (or anything else: my small effort in the direction of a less materialistic existence) in the residence part of the Off-White House, I can assure you of that fact, if you have any doubts that there is a profound difference between the two. I realize that your team – that is to say, masculine women (or, more accurately, women who have chosen to portray themselves as masculine) – the very idea of cooking is abhorrent and is classed as implicitly a patriarchal suppression and oppression of your gender. Your team has had a great success in this area and at least in my experience with my last three or four girlfriends (dating back to the late 1980s) cooking has been reconfigured as "(every once in a great while) heating things up in a pan and then dumping them in with noodles but don't get used to it because it isn't going to become a regular thing". It used to mean something very different, it used to be a point of pride for actual wives and actual mothers and I think it assisted in keeping the divorce rate down to nearly anecdotal levels. "The way to a man's heart is through his stomach". Truer words were never spoken as (for all intents and purposes) untold generations of women were reared by their mothers to acknowledge and abide by with the consequence that virtually all of them found life-long "'til death do us part" marriages as opposed to today's Marxist feminist "starter marriages", broken engagements, shacking up temporarily, Sex and the City one-night stands and comparable peculiarities completely at odds with "happily ever after".
I can certainly understand your not wanting to believe that cooking has any relevance to becoming a good wife and mother, but you're the one who brought up the historical perspective on all this and I think cooking as a female trait is far more universal in an historical sense than your own citing of men and women bringing their children to work which, in historical terms, pretty much vanishes out of post-agrarian society which requires dismissing the last six or seven hundred years of human progress in order to sustain (even in the Marxist-feminist delusional sense).
"The great chefs are all men" and other transparently tactical efforts to shirk your team's wifely and maternal duties duly noted, it is still a universal truism that women do the cooking. To be completely blunt about it, the question is one of "what do women have to offer men in exchange for marriage?" Historically? "The way to a man's heart is through his stomach." The choice to deprecate that skill (and it is a skill) and to eliminate it from the female repertoire (and it has been pretty much eliminated from the female repertoire) is a free will decision and I will defend to the death your right to make it. However, if we take it as a given that making happy life-long marriages is a core female interest (and I think we can take it as a given) then I think it's foolish in the extreme to attempt to just deal cooking out of the equation while bemoaning the loss of long-term stable marriages as if the reason for it is inexplicable. In addition to the familial cohesiveness that home cooking provides, it also provides the locus of the daily family context: the shared meal. If each family member is just popping something into the microwave and gobbling it down in front of the boob tube at different times of the day (that is, juggling each other as they have themselves been juggled by you) then your team has -- in one go -- eliminated two of the binding elements which make a home: no home cooking (a three year old can "cook" his or her own meal if all that you're doing is popping something in the microwave such that "home" is no different from the daycare or nursery school cafeteria) and no family meal.
Tomorrow: What do ACTUAL wives and ACTUAL mothers see when they look at this?
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