Tuesday, June 12, 2007

This I believe.....

is what I call the New American Complacency.

In this amazing display of self-righteous idiocy, Corrine Colbert (no relation to Steven, I assume) explains, "My husband is not my best friend. He doesn't complete me. In fact, he can be a self-absorbed jerk. We're nearly polar opposites: He's a lifetime member of the NRA who doesn't care for journalists, and I'm a lifelong liberal with a journalism degree. On the other hand, he doesn't beat or emotionally abuse me. He doesn't drink or chase other women. He's a good provider. So I'm sticking with him."

As it is one of NPR's "top emailed stories," I am led to assume that either readers are a)digusted, as am I or b)middle-aged house fraus fwding their fellow PTA members a pathetic justification of mediocrity in between watching Dr.Phil and a driving the Ford Explorer to Walgreens for some more Xanax (hi mom!).

This piece, to me, seems anachronistic.
Is this a generational difference? Or are women really so quick to forsake youthful idealism? Is it even 'idealism' at all? NRA jokes aside, in my opinion, it isn't that far-fetched to hope that it is worth holding out until you find someone who (god forbid!) respects your career and whose positive attributes extend further than just a grocery list of negative (and illegal, hello!) attributes he lacks (i.e. abuse, infidelity, etc).

I'd like to hear other opinions on this, but what offends me is the assumption that it is better to have a husband who can 'provide' (food and shelter) is better than no husband at all, or even a husband who provides (love and fulfilling companionship) but not the 'essentials.' Is it so freakishly modern to think that a woman, in the case she is unable to find the perfect man (tragic!), should consider the idea of independence?
If Corrine could have stepped up her journalism, maybe she could have worked her dream job at RS and made enough money not to have to stay with a husband who doesn't seem to intellectually interest her in the least. But maybe that was too difficult for her to do what with her douchebad hubby shooting a 12 guage in the backyard and making cracks about 'bleedin' heart liberals' over the evening casserole. Sigh.


Blogger Sebonde said...

American Marriage is respectable prostitution. I thought a person like you, steeped in anti-capitalist theory, would know this by now. On a related note, this might interest you:

I watched NBC's latest episode of "To Catch a Predator" this evening. For those of you who may not be familiar with this recurring Dateline series, it is the televising of a sting operation, in which perverts are lured on the internet to drive to some house in the middle of nowhere to have sex, or so they are led to believe, with an underage teen. Once these perverts arrive at the house, expecting to have a night of decadent bliss with a fresh ingenue, Chris Hansen pops out and confronts them with the logs of their truly scuzzy chats and thereby makes them feel really, really ashamed and scared shitless about being exposed on national television (and their impending arrest). After they have confessed and expressed a minimum amount of remorse for their total depravity, Hansen tells them they are free to go. Well, no. They are free to leave the house, but once outside, they are tackled by a squad of badged thugs who always seem to be especially brutal for television cameras.

Now, Dateline advertises this series as a public service. After all, they are helping to lock up these monsters so they can't prey on the innocent young, and by televising the stings, Dateline is deterring perverts from shopping the internet for their victims. Well, not exactly. A good many of the scuzzballs caught in tonight's installment actually had seen past episodes of "To Catch a Predator" and trolled for teenage twat anyway. One must be capable of some reason to be deterred, but the total depravity of original sin kills our reason. We live in a Calvinist country after all, and Calvinism says we will sin no matter what. We're told all the time that abortion is legal because there is no way to deter abortion. Fine. Dateline has shown that pedophilia can't be deterred either. Let's legalize it then. Either that or we kill anyone who demonstrates pedophiliac tendencies.

Dateline is televising the stings of these twisted individuals simply because totally depraved sex sells. "To Catch a Predator" is in the tradition of Cecil B. DeMille's religious epics, which got away with going to town with all sorts of lurid depravity just as long as there were a few scenes of Charlton Heston's righteous indignation. So, we can have our perverse thrills at the thought of doing it doggiestyle with a curious, rebellious teen free of parental supervision as long as we agree with Chris Hansen that such thoughts are too disgusting even to be typed out on a keyboard (much less aired on National Television!).

Most of the men caught in these stings are pathetic losers who desperately want feelings of power. If they just wanted sex with young bodies, they would go after eighteen year olds (or sixteen year olds if they live in, say, Iowa; current age of consent laws are just stupid). But they go after underage teens because underage teens finally provide these powerless schmucks with a comfortable power differential. It's precisely why I like to play chess with people who call the knight "a horsey". These guys suck at fishing, and so they want to shoot fish in a barrel and steal candy from babies.

Part of the problem must be that capitalistic society has made everything into a competition, even affection. To be happily married with a loving family, one must make at least $50,000 a year, if not more, and one has to have power to reach that level. In other words, only the powerful deserve affection. And so the poor schmucks try to find affection from people who aren't yet cynics who know the price of everything and the value of nothing, and those people are the callow and exploitable underaged. But the powerful, too, become pedophiles because somewhere in the back of their minds they know that their wives just married them for the money and are, thus, simply respectable whores, and, so, the American Dream becomes just as morally repulsive as, say, doing it doggystyle with a thirteen-year-old, but with this difference: the thirteen-year-old won't nag.

No, I am not defending these perverts. I am saying that in this country we worship power just as much as the neo-cons and the Huntingtonites say the Muslim fascists do. They worship the power of the sword, and we worship the power of the Almighty Dollar, and our beatific visions are measured in profitable exploitations. Exploiting nature so that it will be more profitably efficient, perpetual wars to enrich the military industrial complex, the pornography industry because sterile sex must bear its fruit in lots and lots of cash, and killing human life at its very beginnings for spare parts. Is it any wonder, then, that some men in this already sick society would apply its depraved logic to the innocence of the young? The powerful exploit the less powerful for gain, and that's all what these perverts do.

2:48 PM  
Blogger d'Mardree said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

4:26 PM  
Blogger d'Mardree said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

4:29 PM  
Blogger Sebonde said...

A Rortian, I argue, would approve of this settling. Colbert and her husband obviously have fundamental disagreements over what the good life entails and all efforts at trying to arrive at anAufhebung of these differences would get them nowhere and simply produce really inconvenient strife. So, for the sake of tranquility it is simply best to privatize these differences and base the marriage on something for which there is a consensus, such as the desirability of avoiding cruelty and the quid pro quo of sex for a cushy middle-class life. No need to get entangled in the metaphysics of love and friendship which will conclude in an aporia and, of course, a nasty divorce. Now some would argue that this is simply softcore prostitution, but only if they insist upon and outdated metaphysical vocabulary with its distinctions between true love and base sellling out. One need only redescribe this "measly settling" as something more attractive such as, say, a longterm fuckbuddy contract, and this argument just simply vanishes. Rorty would, I think, approve.

5:43 PM  
Blogger Scantron said...

Ha, I like your take, dchan. Jess pointed this out to me and we discussed it a bit. I agree that the whole "he doesn't beat me, he doesn't drink" bit is just astonishingly bad advertising for your marriage. But I think it was more a (ill-chosen) rhetorical point to get across the fact that she doesn't ask for a lot in terms of extravagance. I mean, obviously her marriage is better than just that bare minimum lack of (as you point out) negative qualities.

Also, it's not clear that she's a total housewife worried about making sure big daddy provider's feet are warm and his beer is cold. Although she does call him a good provider, she's "making a living" herself from her journalism. The guy might sound like a neanderthal jerk to us (and it kind of creeps me out to hear that he is an NRA member and "he is fiercely protective") but who knows. I have plenty of relatives who are Republicans and gun-owners and they are perfectly decent people. In fact this woman might as well be my aunt from her description of life.

Obviously it offends us to hear about people not pushing themselves. But I think it offends us more that they're actually *advertising* it as a lifestyle and we have to hear about it. Millions of Americans live just like this woman every day and we don't think twice about it. In many ways, we probably will live that way too someday--it's a matter of what sorts of sociological data you want to consider important in a survey. Sure, I'll be an academic with lots of fancy friends probably, but will my census sound like hers? Roof-bills paid-kids (maybe)-spouse-food-family-friends. That's about right. I'm not going to be jetsetting or globetrotting or climbing a different mountain every weekend or anything. (And if I am able to, how much is this a function of my "drive for life" rather than my social class?) And she's not ruling out anywhere in the essay the possibility that you might live alone. She's just talking about the decision's she's made and how they're ok for her. If nothing else, why not just read the essay and say, "Ok, so this is the life of this boring person, what does that have to do with me?"

As for capitalistic society, this essay is a glorification of anything but. This woman's whole point is that she doesn't care about keeping up with the Joneses, and she's happy with what material possessions she has. Considering the horror that many people live in daily around the world, where they have no food or shelter and predatory men are looking to rape them every day, she is right to point out that you (1st world America beneficiary) probably have all you need. I think more people should make those sorts of realizations. And that's not to say that her life, while better than those pathetic 3rd worlders, is "least bad" and that we should shoot for a better conception of life: I'm actually saying, quite positively, that her life is good, and it's a standard that people deserve.

And as for the sexual contract of this marriage, it doesn't sound like there is one. Are we to assume that this dude is exacting his "husbandly privileges" every night by demand? There's nothing about sex in the article at all (but perhaps this is telling from a psychological standpoint!). Like I said, I think it's just that this point of view is being shoved in our faces that we resent it; otherwise we would complain about it every day because it is fucking *everywhere*. Couples on the street, people walking past us, old spouses in some little suburban home far far away--they're all roughly the same as this woman. Who cares?

8:40 PM  
Blogger Scantron said...

I should add that the 3rd world "no food-no shelter-predatory rapists" scenario I have sketched is all too plausible in America as well. Which, like, makes me think once again that this woman is speaking some truth.

9:15 PM  
Blogger Sebonde said...

Okay, I should have read the essay before I ventured a comment. Sorry. I was entirely off-base and apologize. It is obvious that this woman neet not be dependent upon a bread-winner and that sex is far from being the glue of this marriage. It is also obvious that the youthful fire of the first love is now, perhaps, just a glowing ember. Fine, youth passes. Please, delete my other comments.

1:44 AM  
Blogger Sebonde said...

Okay, I should have read the essay before I ventured a comment. Sorry. I was entirely off-base and apologize. It is obvious that this woman does not need to be dependent upon a bread-winner and that sex is far from being the glue of this marriage. It is also obvious that the youthful fire of the first love is now, perhaps, just a glowing ember. Fine, youth passes. Please, delete my other comments for they are very stupid.

7:45 AM  

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