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Thursday, March 27, 2003


To: Virginia Rail Express riders

From: Other

Subject: Tables

As you may have noticed, there are a handful of tables distributed throughout each rail car. Contrary to what many of you seem to think, these tables do not exist to hold your fat-laden arms. They are for people with reading material, writing implements, or food. When you occupy them despite the availability of other seats, and without any of the three aforementioned items, you reveal that you have no sense of Other. Speaking on behalf of all Other, let me say that we detest you with a white burning hatred that knows no quenching.

Have a nice day.

posted by Woodlief | link | (2) comments

Monday, March 24, 2003

The World According to Betty

I receive at seemingly random intervals an email from Writer's Market. The latest informs that a new online magazine called Betty is seeking submissions. The email references its own Market Watch publication, which quotes someone from Betty, who explains that the new zine's target audience is "the real woman...not the homemaker, but the educated, independent, serious woman and girl."

The real woman. Not the woman who sacrifices a career because she believes she can do more good in the world by raising and teaching her children herself. So what if she has wrestled for years with the challenges, for example, of raising her children in adherence to her faith? That doesn't compare with hustling to get appointed Executive Mid-Manager in MegaCorporation ABC, after all. Get real, mom. You are merely managing the moral, physical, and intellectual development of human beings; it's not like you are putting together PowerPoint slides comparing the costs of competing stationary vendors.

Not that the homemaker could do something like that, because she is, implies Betty, uneducated. Educated women, you see, don't stay home. How do we know? Because the sweethearts at Betty, along with their pseudo-intellectual ilk who infest the coastal cities, look around themselves and see educated women working. None of these smart women would dream of staying home with the kids. Ipso facto, educated women don't stoop to such an enterprise.

It is remarkable that the same people who can sit through an anthropology class and nod with reverence at the pagan bloodletting practices of Central African animists can evince such intolerance at the life choices of their fellow citizens. Surely it has occurred to them that there are homemakers who are educated and serious, whose lives are real?

No, it probably has not, because they don't know any beyond perhaps their mothers, and if I had a dime for every feminist I've met who holds her own mother in contempt I would be able to afford a big advertisement in Betty that says: "Stretch marks: the sign of a REAL woman."

So we are reduced to argument from personal experience. The problem with using anecdotes to make sweeping claims is that they are easily refuted by contradictory anecdotes. For example, in my personal network the wisest women all happen to be mothers who stay (or stayed) home with their children. They are also the most serious; they are staking out a life that is at odds with popular culture and the received wisdom of the Ivory Tower. Does this prove that educated, serious, real women always choose the life of mother and homemaker? Of course not, any more than the absence of real homemakers from the parochial Betty network is evidence that such don't exist. I'd be happy to introduce the Betty chicks to some real women who work in the home, if they could stand to leave the gripping reality of their decorated offices and cappuccino machines long enough to venture out into the vast stretches of imaginary America that don't mimic Murphy Brown.

I'm sure there are some activities more serious than training up one's own flesh and blood. Condoleeza Rice's job comes to mind. And Mother Theresa. Say, do any of the sweetie-pies at Betty work in national security fields, or devote their time and health to the poor?

I'm betting not so much. No, I suspect the Betty lovey-doves are ninety-percent single, childless freelance writers who sporadically emit educated, serious scribblings about the importance of remaining educated and serious by avoiding childbirth and childrearing. To do otherwise would not be to keep it real.

I could write more, but soon I must return home to my wife with two degrees who has been flitting about the house all day, reveling in the unserious fantasy-land that is raising two little boys. It's good I make enough money for her to stay at home. Otherwise she might have to enter the cruel, difficult, real world of memos, corporate expense accounts, and pantyhose. I'm so glad I can shelter the little lamb.

posted by Woodlief | link | (9) comments