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Tiger Beatdown PRESENTS: The Caitlin Flanagan Experience! Featuring Sandra Tsing Loh, and Depression.

You know, friends, I get tips sometimes! I do not write about all of these tips, for I am lazy. HOWEVER, when I receive a message entitled “Tiger Beatdown Emergency,” and it mentions a live! Multi-media! Interview! With Caitlin Flanagan! Well, I pay attention.

Yes, it’s true: you, the listener, for no money at all, can go to this very web page and listen to Sandra Tsing Loh (who wrote about leaving her marriage because she didn’t like it any more) speaking with Caitlin Flanagan (who writes about how you should never leave your marriage, EVER) about, well: marriage, I guess. MARRIAGE: A Terrible, Soul-Draining Experience From Which You Must Escape, or a Terrible, Soul-Draining Experience From Which There Is No Escape? Such is the topic of discussion. I have this wild suspicion that maybe there are some people who like being married, but this is not newsworthy. Crazy fringe-dwelling marriage-likers!

Anyway, Sandra Tsing Loh seems like a nice lady. I liked her essay OK! (Personally, I like any lady who writes the line “my dearest childhood wish was not just that my parents would divorce, but also that my raging father would burst into flames.”) Sadly, given that Sandra Tsing Loh seems fairly even-handed and level-headed throughout, she cannot be the draw here. No! The real draw is the crazy anti-feminist carnival ride that is listening to Caitlin Flanagan speak! Join me, as I work through the checklist of potential “YIKES” moments presented to the listener here.

1) CAITLIN FLANAGAN SUGGESTING THAT EQUALITY KILLS BONERS: Check! Actually, Tsing Loh takes the lead on this one, suggesting that men have been “feminized” by, um, not being giant babies and learning the skills necessary to feed themselves and not live in their own filth? It is a weird moment. But I liked the essay! Nevertheless, Caitlin Flanagan is the one who really runs with it, as she is nothing if not concerned about the fate of the poor, helpless boners. She attributes the vitality and well-being of the boners in her marriage to the fact that her husband “cannot boil water” and is not burdened with the hard, thankless labor of making dinner or cleaning the house or whatever. The person burdened with this hard, thankless labor is Caitlin Flanagan, and she loves it! Or maybe she doesn’t, but it doesn’t matter, because she wrote that essay about how you should put out for your husband whether or not you want to! Or MAYBE, just MAYBE, none of it matters at all, because Caitlin Flanagan and her husband can hire professional domestic help if they want to, and have done so in the past! In conclusion: vote Yes on Boners! Boners! Hooray!

2) CAITLIN FLANAGAN FOREGOING RATIONAL ARGUMENT IN FAVOR OF TALKING ABOUT HOW HER DAD ALSO HAD SOME BONERS: This comes in pretty early on, actually. She is supposed to be talking about how marriage is awesome and you should stay in your marriage if it is not awesome and what she does instead of this is to tell this marvelous story about how her grandpa used to say the phrase “before you were a glimmer in your father’s eye” (a phrase no-one else’s grandpa has ever used! I’m sure) and how she eventually realized that this meant her dad used to get boners, with her mom, and oh God don’t take me back to the Alec Baldwin sexy Dad place, Caitlin Flanagan, pleeeeeeeeeeeeassse.

3) CAITLIN FLANAGAN SUGGESTING THAT MARRIAGE IS “FOR THE CHILDREN,” WHO WILL TOTALLY BENEFIT FROM LIVING WITH TWO PEOPLE WHO HATE EACH OTHER. Did you know that, if children are not raised by their biological parents, they will fail at life? Such are the prophecies of Caitlin Flanagan. This explains why Tiger Beatdown, a blog written by a lady whose mom has been divorced two times and married three times, is basically entirely composed of entries about how I am trading sex for heroin in bus stations with men whom I call “Daddy.” Oh, no, wait, none of that is true! In fact, I know very few people who have spontaneously exploded due to the fact that their parents divorced! I do know people who think fondly about how great their lives would have been if their parents would have gotten divorced instead of fighting all the damn time and being crazy. But this is in direct contradiction to the high-brow ponderings of Caitlin Flanagan, who has found the Platonic model of marriage in “Jon & Kate Plus Eight” (WHAT) and writes things like “Jon and Kate Gosselin’s marriage was an enterprise dedicated not to making themselves happy but to taking care of the cavalcade of children they had produced… laboring at something more significant than their own pleasure.” Ah, culture!

4) CAITLIN FLANAGAN NAME-CHECKING TERRIBLE POTENTIALLY LETHAL ILLNESS THAT NO-ONE CAN SAY ANYTHING ABOUT NO MATTER HOW GROSS HER MEANS FOR NAME-CHECKING IT MAY BE BECAUSE IT MEANS WE DON’T CARE ABOUT HER CANCER: Check! As you may know, Caitlin Flanagan likes to talk and write – a lot – about how she had cancer, and her husband took care of her when she had the cancer, because she was an appropriately submissive wife. The alternative, of course, is that you are not an appropriately submissive wife, and you still get cancer, and your husband wraps you up in a burlap sack and drops you down the well like a sack of kittens. True story! Or, it might not be a true story, but you cannot question this, unless you love cancer and don’t care about Caitlin Flanagan. Shut your traps, cancer-lovers!

5) CAITLIN FLANAGAN DEFENDING MARRIAGE IN SUCH A WAY THAT THE LISTENER CONCLUDES HE OR SHE WOULD PREFER LIFELONG CHASTITY OR PERHAPS HAVING HER EYEBALLS GNAWED OUT OF HER SKULL BY RATS: Check, check, and check, my friends. Hey, remember this line? “There probably aren’t many people whose idea of 24-hour-a-day good times consists of being yoked to the same romantic partner, through bouts of stomach flu and depression, financial setbacks and emotional upsets, until after many a long decade, one or the other eventually dies.” Ha ha, YIKES! Yep, that’s pretty much the Flanagan program, and it is on display here. Thank you, Caitlin Flanagan, for steering us away from traditional values by praising traditional values. Again.


  1. snobographer wrote:

    So if you don't crank out a shitload of kids, the marriage is not really necessary then. Pro-marriage types like Flanagan never seem to go there, to the how's-about-you-don't-have-kids-if-you-can-help-it option. It's a fun and easy way to trip them up if you're ever stuck having to talk to one of them, because they're almost always stunned that anyone would have no interest in bearing children. Next, predictably, they'll accuse you of being selfish, despite the fact that there are millions of kids on earth who could use some parents and don't have any, the selfish thing to do is to not make more kids. I've never figured that one out, myself.

    Wednesday, July 29, 2009 at 12:50 pm | Permalink
  2. D. wrote:


    Yeah. That.

    Wednesday, July 29, 2009 at 1:00 pm | Permalink
  3. mr_subjunctive wrote:

    Well, you may not be trading sex for heroin in bus stations with men you call "Daddy," but you are, as we all know, linking to sites! and writing about feminism!, and writing for more famous sites!


    So I think it's clear that you are still deeply fucked-up by your mother's divorces, and may as well be trading sex for heroin, etc.

    Wednesday, July 29, 2009 at 1:40 pm | Permalink
  4. julian wrote:

    The boners thing: totes true. I haven't had one for ages, and it's all due to the wimminz n their stupied "equality."

    Wednesday, July 29, 2009 at 1:47 pm | Permalink
  5. Anonymous wrote:

    Well, it may just be that I'm a cancer-loving, marriage-hating boner-killer [and I'm a gay man! I have no intrinsic problem with the boners!], but I seem to disagree with pretty much EVERYTHING FLANAGAN SAYS.

    Also, my parents divorced too! Because my mom has a number of severe issues! And I, in living with my dad and his partner, notice a striking lack of the Utter Despondency Flanagan seems to think I should be feeling. [I expect I should be feeling even more UTTER DESPONDENCY than someone living with their mom, because of the lack of a Soothing Maternal Presence, but it is hard to say. People don't seem to talk about single dads that much].

    In short: Flanagan=wrong. Which should come as a surprise to, er, no-one?


    Wednesday, July 29, 2009 at 2:23 pm | Permalink
  6. Bettina Fairchild wrote:

    I find problems both with Caitlin Flanagan's complete idealization of marriage and being raised in an "intact" family, and your downplaying the problems of divorce. While you may know many people who wished their parents had been divorced, and "very few" who "spontaneously exploded," you know too that anecdotal evidence isn't valid over large groups. If you read things like The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce, or The Atlantic article here: (the title is attention-getting but totally makes me cringe in horror), you'll see that there are a whole host of problems children of divorce are particularly prone to. That's terrific that you didn't have those problems. Unfortunately, a statistically significant percentage of kids aren't that lucky. And given statistics like that children of divorce are much less likely to go to selective colleges than children from intact families, it's perhaps not surprising that someone as intelligent and well-educated as yourself know few whose lives combusted by their parents' divorce. Those kids are disproportionately at less-selective colleges or not at college at all, and have lower educational achievement levels and probably lower income levels as a result, on average. That's just one of the problems, and not even the most pressing–kids being raised by step-parents also have fewer regular medical checkups than children being raised by both parents. Of more concern are the greater percentage of children of non-intact families who are physically and sexually abused. These are worrisome. Your joke about trading sex for heroin isn't funny given some of these statistics. It's also worrisome that folks on the left (of which I am a very dedicted one), are very prone to dismissing problems related to divorce and acting like the only alternative to divorce is to live with someone you hate (not true–sometimes you're just vaguely dissatisfied, like Sandra Tsing Loh), while folks on the right are busy predicting apocalyptic horrors if a child is raised in a non-nuclear family. Can't we have some middle ground? Sandra Tsing Loh is pretty even-handed–and I have the feeling that her kids will be OK, despite suddenly having far less time to spend with their parents, and having to experience great upheaval. But it's time to acknowledge that the truism that it's better to divorce than to stay together for the sake of the children is one based on psychologists and psychiatrists speaking with the parents–the ones who are paying their salaries–and not based on longitudinal studies of the kids. It's a children's rights issue to speak up for them. There are better ways and worse ways to divorce, but typically such nuances are lost in the absolutism of a Caitlin Flanagan on the one hand or on the other hand someone who dismisses the ways that divorce puts children at risk. In cases where there are kids, divorce is NOT just about not living with someone you have issues with. At least adults can fend for themselves. Kids can't, and shouldn't be expected to. The adults get to choose; the kids don't.

    Wednesday, July 29, 2009 at 2:24 pm | Permalink
  7. mccn wrote:

    "Did you know that, if children are not raised by their biological parents, they will fail at life?"

    Oh yes, I did indeed know this. Because my parents not only divorced, they were NOT MY BIOLOGICAL PARENTS AT ALL!

    Not only did I cost the state money supporting me when I was an infant in the hospital and then in a foster home, but then they shunted me off to these nonbio people who were only going to ruin my life anyway! It would have been better to smother me in the box I was abandoned in, I think, and save society the nuisance and time.

    It's too bad I'm in a high tax bracket because some would see that as contributing to society.

    Wednesday, July 29, 2009 at 2:34 pm | Permalink
  8. Sady wrote:

    @Bettina: That's a long comment, there. But (a) Caitlin Flanagan employs all this "data" in a disingenous manner, as she is chiefly concerned with returning everyone to traditional gender roles, in which ladies are subordinated to the mens, and (b) on the subordination tip, I suggest to you that there may be some substantial correlation between the fact that women are more likely to be victims of domestic abuse, the existence of sexism and unfair, limiting gender roles for women, and the fact that women initiate most divorces. And (c) if someone has irreconcilable differences with his or her spouse, for whatever reason, our advice should be to… stay together and suffer? Seriously? Divorce sucks for everyone involved, kids included, but I learned more about courage, strength, and feminism from watching my mom leave relationships that didn't work for her than I possibly could have learned by watching her stay in those same marriages "for my sake."

    Wednesday, July 29, 2009 at 2:48 pm | Permalink
  9. Other Ashley wrote:

    @Bettina: I think you raise some valid concerns, but the statistics you offer, to me, reinforces the fact that anecdote actually IS a better means of assessing the long term damage that parental decisions can do precisely because those decisions absolutely must be made based on what those parents know about themselves and their families, NOT on an essentialized conception of the outcomes for children based on statistics.

    Furthermore, that data may very well conceal important socio-economic realities: lots and lots of single mothers live in poverty, which means that they will have less time and less money to devote to their children's education and enrichment. Lots and lots of these single mothers are not single by choice, but may have become so because of abandonment or abuse.

    In other words, I wonder what that data might look like if adjusted to show differences among income levels. Are those educational outcomes the same for families who make over $100k/year vs. those that make less than $25k/year?

    Wednesday, July 29, 2009 at 3:33 pm | Permalink
  10. Anonymous wrote:

    Also on the above stats provided by Bettina. Comparing outcomes of children of divorced families to children of intact families unless you further break down the intact families into happy ones and stay-together-in-spite-of general-misery ones. Also divide the children of divorced parents into those that were not adversely affected economically, and those that were plunged into poverty because of dad refusing to pay child support and mum only being able to get a low-paying job due to our messed-up sexist work environment. That's the bummer about statistics and sociology: no lab conditions. Humans just have too many damn variables.

    Wednesday, July 29, 2009 at 5:46 pm | Permalink
  11. berryblade wrote:

    "Shut your traps, cancer-lovers!"

    is actually the only time i've laughed today.
    I needed that. Thank you.

    Wednesday, July 29, 2009 at 6:26 pm | Permalink
  12. Scott wrote:

    Obviously the best environment would come from two happy loving parents raising their children right up until they mature into graceful, self-assured adults. I hear that happens occasionally in fairy tales.

    My own experience is that my parents divorced when I was 14. There was no abuse (that I'm aware of) and my mother was devestated at the time by my father's leaving. But within a few years, my mother had gone back to college, obtaned a new degree and started a career that she continues in 20+ years later.

    I asked her about it a few years ago and she admitted that the divorce was horrible for her, but looking back, she's much happier now than she ever was then.

    As for the kids, who can really tell if that was a factor in the fact both me and my sister have been divorced? As anonymous said at 5:46pm, oo many damn variables.

    Wednesday, July 29, 2009 at 10:08 pm | Permalink
  13. noradeirdre wrote:

    Aw, I was hoping for some more snarking about Sandra "I decided I didn't like being married anymore so NO ONE SHOULD BE MARRIED EVER" Tsing Loh, but the Caitlin Flanagan commentary was amusing as well.

    (I, um, laughed so hard at the pretention and privilege of Loh's essay that it made my sides split for days afterward- she's not so enlightened when it comes to pegging gender roles either.)

    Anyway, I love this blog so much for so many reasons, so thank you for writing it.

    Loves Cancer as Much as My Husband (Maybe More)

    Thursday, July 30, 2009 at 7:22 am | Permalink
  14. blondie wrote:

    I just came over from Shakesville, and I want to compliment you on your writing. You're hilarious.

    Good job! If I could put a smiley face stamp (remember the ones you could get on your papers in grade school?) on your blog, I would.

    Thursday, July 30, 2009 at 9:40 am | Permalink
  15. Anonymous wrote:

    Okay, not to stir up trouble, but I want to lend a "Here! Here!" to Bettina's comment. Personally, I cannot imagine a single thing more devastating in my life than my parents' divorce, and that includes my years spent in a duplicitous, verbally abusive date-rapey relationship, which I suspect I entered into and endured longer than many others might simply because it was the divorce (causes of and familial reactions to) which predisposed me to think I was pretty worthless. A survive-rather-than-prosper mentality. Yes, I'm an anecdotal datum point, but true: plunged into poverty, shame, life with a newly suicidal mother, serious abandonment and trust issues, etc. Every time I read or hear someone ridicule the problems of children of divorce it hurts and belittles me anew. And it especially hurts that people who have suffered like me are made out to be 'supid druggie hos' (yes, I know you did not literally call us stupid druggie hos, but how am I expected to translate "trading sex for heroin"?). No, I didn't get involved with hardcore drugs, but some days I'm amazed I didn't. I get that it hurt some people to have married parents who fought all the time, but why does that point have to be made at my (our) expense? It freshly kills me every time. You know, I'm genuinely happy for people who didn't go through what I did; please don't pretend I don't exist–it sounds to me like a type of privilege I don't have, but that I would give anything to have. Anything.

    Thursday, July 30, 2009 at 11:25 am | Permalink
  16. ChelseaWantsOut wrote:

    How about that caller who was like, "I have been married for two years so clearly I know much more about marriage than you ladeeez who have been married for two decades!! Listen to GOD!!!!" What the hell was that about? He also said, "both spectrums" when he meant "both ends of the spectrum." I found him supremely annoying.

    Also, when that Sandra Tsing Loh said a man emptying the dishwasher is only sexy if he's wearing a French Maid outfit, I disagreed. There's really a lot of, like, bending over and then reaching up high involved in putting dishes away. It's a pretty good medium for seduction regardless of costuming, and one which my husband (of 3 years: top that, caller guy) has used on several occasions.

    I agree with Anonymous that there are too many damn variables, and propose that we just cut some of them out. I think the one to start with is abuse in relationships. We should probably get rid of it. Let's get on that, people.

    Thursday, July 30, 2009 at 12:22 pm | Permalink
  17. Bettina Fairchild wrote:

    Anonymous: In The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce, a longitudinal study of the children of divorce, the author did compare children of divorce with children of unhappy couples, as well as children of happily married couples. It's a qualitative study for the most part, because, as you say, there are just too many damn variables. But the researcher did find that for the most part, children of divorce did end up worse. But she also distinguishes between dysfunctional couples that stay together, and not-ideally-happy couples who also stay together. The children of dysfunctional couples suffered a lot, too. Probably roughly equivalent to the children of divorce. The children of parents with difficulties who stayed together, though, did pretty well. Certainly better than the children of divorce. The thing is, "irreconcilable differences" is pretty much the flip side to the idea of "soul mate" and romantic love. Both privilege a certain emotional whim over responsibility. That is: sure, sometimes a couple is completely incompatible and the relationship is soul-killing. Those people would be better off without each other, and that's no whim. But there are plenty of others that are not so dire, that could be worked out if the couples share a certain level of commitment and are mature enough to work through their problems. But they buy into this whole romantic love thing and quit when the going gets tough, with the blessing of self-help gurus who repeat easy, comforting aphorisms that tell them that what they feel like doing for their own welfare (divorcing) will actually be doing their kids a favor, too. How convenient. But most children wish their parents stay together, and children's instincts are pretty good, and usually not based on any ideological vision of divorce or marriage. The right would have it that divorce is universally a disaster. The left would have it that problems of divorce tend to be due to sexual inequality, But a large percentage of the problems and risks of problems are due to the realities of divorce itself. Like, not all of the financial hardships are due to deadbeat dads or underpaid moms–divorce automatically means less money will be available to raise your children because two households always require more money than single households. And while ultimately responsibility for being a deadbeat dad resides with the dad, I can tell you dozens of cases of people I know where the dad became a deadbeat (not necessarily financially–possibly "just" emotionally) only when his new wife told him he had to choose between her or his children. Reprehensible? Sure. But also a classic and extremely common occurrence in a society that privileges romantic love as the basis for marriage over raising children as the basis for marriage. Conflicting loyalties are a common problem in divorce.

    Thursday, July 30, 2009 at 1:43 pm | Permalink
  18. Anonymous wrote:

    I always enjoy the "ignore your happiness and concentrate on X!" arguments.

    Because it's not like being able to make yourself happy and fulfilled would actually, say, make you healthier as a whole and actually a better parent/lover/cat herder in the long run.


    Thursday, July 30, 2009 at 2:38 pm | Permalink
  19. Sady wrote:

    @Bettina, @Anonymous: Yes, it's true. It would be lovely if everyone got into and left relationships for all the right reasons. Unfortunately, that doesn't happen, because of, you know, the fact that people are human. And, you know what? Not being the Sweet Lord Baby Jesus, I can't judge.

    About my INSENSITIVITY TO CHILDREN OF DIVORCE: Having been through two divorces as a Child of Divorce, I can confirm that breakups of that they suck. My jokes are about the fact that, if one divorce is Bad For The Children, two divorces should almost certainly be worse. Saying that I am "calling children of divorce stupid druggie hos" is a kind of epic example of point-missing, considering the fact that I've made it clear that I am one, and resent the implication that I should be screwed up. We can talk about the fact that economic issues played some role in my success – that, unlike "having a perfect family," IS an actual structural privilege – and I'm open to that. I'm not open to all the hand-wringing and judgmental BS going on in this thread.

    (About "children wanting their parents to stay together": children also want ice cream for dinner. A surprising number of them want to stick peas up their noses. Kids are great, but they are widely renowned to be not the best people in the world at distinguishing between "what I want" and "what is best for me.")

    Divorces suck, for everyone involved. Family dysfunction sucks, for everyone involved. The death of a loved one sucks, the loss of one's job sucks, illness sucks, being unpopular in high school sucks, lots of things suck. Sad things are sad. That doesn't make them politically relevant. In fact, I think pinpointing a divorce as the single worst thing that has ever happened to you, and dwelling on it, and demanding that everyone else stop expressing their opinions so you can talk about how awful it was that your parents got divorced, requires a certain obnoxious amount of privilege in the first place.

    Divorce – unlike abuse, or discrimination against single mothers – is a private issue. Telling people to stay in relationships that aren't working, deciding that YOU and not they are qualified to decide what their relationships should look like, not trusting people to make the decisions that are best for themselves, or flat-out saying that people shouldn't have the ability to make decisions for themselves and should sacrifice their own fulfillment and well-being to that of their children (because THAT'S not a time-honored antifeminist tactic or anything) is paternalistic, gross, judgmental, and pretty much just not what we do here.

    Thursday, July 30, 2009 at 7:30 pm | Permalink
  20. Anonymous wrote:

    Speaking of so many damn variables: better educated, wealthier women are less likely to divorce and more likely to have happier marriages. If it's moms more vulnerable- to economic insecurity, to the lack of choices that brings- who divorce in larger numbers, how might that skew the comparison between divorced and "intact" families?

    I'm puzzled by the thought that divorcing parents are being immature. So the solution is to clap our hands and tell them to mature? How does that work? From what I've witnessed in real life what usually happens is the less mature party continues to act immaturely and hurtfully while the more mature party sucks it up for the sake of the kids. It doesn't cause anyone to change or grow, just guilts the mature party into bearing more of the burden. How is that a solution?

    Personally I'm not a child of divorce, because my parents gasp! Never Married. Still, I suffered sexual and physical abuse, poverty and I did not attend a select university. I partially blame a society that made my mother feel deep shame at being a single parent, barely paid her enough to put food on the table by herself, pushed her to marry a man she barely knew, pressured her to stand by him as his addictions became more obvious, and as he became abusive gave her little options for leaving or hope of making it on her own. I blame the parties involved as well, but I can't help but see how a patriarchal system bent on preventing the Evils of Divorce propped up the dysfunction I lived with.

    (Some might think that my biological parents staying together might have prevented what I grew up with. However, given that she kicked my dad out when she found him snorting cocaine over my crib, he never paid a dime in child support and he has severe PTSD from Vietnam, I'm guessing her instinct was correct. I just wish she had had the strength to keep exercising it.)

    Friday, July 31, 2009 at 1:07 am | Permalink
  21. meerkat wrote:

    You know, nowadays we have this thing called "being a responsible pet owner at all" and also this thing called "spaying" that makes dropping kittens down wells totally unnecessary. As someone who spends some of her time and money helping to save the lives of unwanted kittens, such as the one playing around my foot right now, I don't enjoy references to flagrant animal cruelty being dropped in as jokes.

    Friday, July 31, 2009 at 8:34 am | Permalink
  22. blondie wrote:

    "Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way."

    If Tolstoy was right, perhaps it's not particularly helpful to attempt to generalize about what divorce and dysfunction mean when each family and each family member involve so many variables.

    Or maybe I'm just tired of women getting blamed for: getting married too young, getting married too late, not getting married at all, getting divorced too easily, not getting divorced soon enough, not putting up with enough abuse within a marriage, being too immature to make their husbands better people, not putting every person on the face of the planet ahead of herself, etc.

    Friday, July 31, 2009 at 8:49 am | Permalink
  23. Sady wrote:

    @meerkat: Oh, for fuck's sake. Personally, I thought the fact that it was a joke about a husband killing his wife was probably more offensive! But, you know, I totally support both spousal abuse and animal cruelty, as anyone with a sense of perspective and context can see. I also hate children of divorce! Freaks. So, for those keeping track, here are the things I hate and love:

    HATE: Kittens, babies.
    LOVE: Cancer.

    It's a strange list, but I'm sticking with it.

    Friday, July 31, 2009 at 8:52 am | Permalink
  24. meerkat wrote:

    The joke I got from it was that it is funny to say he would dump his wife in a well like [object that is appropriate to dump in a well]. I assume you don't approve of killing kittens because I just assume that about everyone, but the actual post doesn't give any indication whether you approve or not. A person who routinely drowns kittens could make the exact same joke non-ironically. I suppose a person who approves of drowning cancerous wives could also make the same joke non-ironically, but this is an explicitly feminist blog, but not an explicitly pro-kittens blog, so the sarcasm there is more obvious.

    Perhaps your violence needs to be more outrageous to make it obvious satire. This joke would not have bothered me if it were about human babies, because that is much farther into "duh, everyone knows it's wrong" territory, whereas kitten-drowning was accepted practice in recent memory, and while people may not drown kittens so often any more, they certainly do drop them off at the pound to be killed. Of course, baby-killing jokes would offend some, I am sure, and possibly me if I were a parent, but I am explaining why I personally found it a very squicky and unpleasant reference that interfered with my blogular reading pleasure even though I was totally into the post up until then. It's subjective, but to me it plays into the theme of "violence against animals, especially cute ones = edgy!" and of course we all know edgy is totally cool.

    While I'm complaining, you really shouldn't use "lame" either! It's ableist! Assuming your policy on it has not changed since previous posts in which the word appeared. (I haven't read all the comment threads on all the posts.)

    Anyway, I generally find your blog to be insightful and hilarious. Sorry I don't comment more positively but I never thought there was so much point in saying "wow, you are awesome" when other people were already saying it AND adding to the conversation.

    Friday, July 31, 2009 at 11:57 am | Permalink
  25. Sady wrote:

    @meerkat: Let us be clear here. I very much like kittens. I've always had cats. I've always been a responsible pet owner. I am probably not as pro-kitten as you, however! And I am fine with that. This is a feminist blog, not a kitten blog. I hope you can still read it even if we don't have 100% identical activist profiles.

    The way the joke actually worked was, "you're not an appropriately submissive wife, and you still get cancer, and your husband [engages in an archaic practice that is widely regarded as inhumane even when done to an animal, and would be a flat-out felony when done to a person]." It was intended to highlight the absurdity of attributing correct, supportive behavior on the part of a husband to his wife's level of submissive retrofuck gender performance by positing the alternative as unspeakable cruelty. I honestly think that 99% of the folks who read the joke would get that. You didn't, because it used the word "kittens." That's too bad.

    Yes, I find it highly irritating that in a joke about cancer, murder, and dead kittens, people are apparently offended BY THE DEAD KITTENS. I find it highly irritating that in a post wherein I identify as a child of divorce, people are calling me insensitive to children of divorce. I really, literally cannot please everyone or make sure that each and every post caters to the unique sensibilities or sore spots of everyone who reads it. And, if I did, I would have to service so many conflicting opinions and personalities that I might as well not write anything at all.

    Look, we all agree that it sucks when people stereotype feminists as hypersensitive humorless socially maladapted sanctimonious assholes who lurk in the bushes waiting to jump on someone for saying anything that can be construed as even vaguely insensitive, regardless of the context or intent of that person's statement, because tearing other people down is what they do to make themselves feel righteous. Right? So, instead of jumping out of the bushes to deliver an epic "THAT'S NOT FUNNY" I request that we chill the fuck out a little in regard to each other. Read the context. Read the intent. Ask yourself whether laying into an ally for potential kitten-hatred (SRSLY? Who the fuck hates kittens?) is at all constructive. I know that I jump on people too, but I'm working on being more gracious. Because, basically, I think that you can't reach people if you can't have a conversation with them, and I think that this behavior, whether or not we all want to admit it, is one of the main reasons people will say, "I'm not a feminist, but." They might agree with us, but they sure as hell don't want to be mistaken for one of us. Not when we act like this.

    That said, I try not to use the word "lame" any more, because I know people are offended by it. Also, I stopped using "retarded" some time back. Thanks for checking in, though!

    Saturday, August 1, 2009 at 9:44 am | Permalink
  26. ChelseaWantsOut wrote:

    Don't forget to put victims of domestic violence on your hate list. Oh, Sady, the many and varied ways in which you support the patriarchy.

    Saturday, August 1, 2009 at 12:50 pm | Permalink
  27. Anonymous wrote:

    I love cats. Hate humans. I wasn't particularly offended by the drowned kittens bit. Which I guess proves your point: you really can't please everyone. Even the most hardcore of kitten advocates are gonna have different reactions.

    And I'm waiting for someone to complain that your line about trading sex for heroin in bus stations stigmatizes sex workers and denies them agency by framing them as victims and/or damaged women. Any takers?

    Sunday, August 2, 2009 at 12:20 pm | Permalink
  28. Sady wrote:

    @Anonymous: Actually, that one gives me pause.

    Sunday, August 2, 2009 at 1:05 pm | Permalink
  29. claire wrote:

    oh, man, you rocked this caitlin “i’m just a li’l stay at home mom with cancer” shit. One suspects she’d give up the right to suffrage fairly easily–after all, voting’s kind of threatening.

    But IMO Sandra’s just as bad. This is a woman whose entire shtick is based on hating her husband. Maybe that’s why these two are BFF–at the end of the day, they have only contempt for men. To me–as a woman and a person–that’s disgusting. They’re both saying the same thing (and selling the rest of us women out in the process): Relationships between women and men are social commodities, meant not to make you happy but to further civilization’s contracts. That’s a point of view, I guess, but not one I like.I actually love my husband and, unlike either of these spoiled women, enjoy my 3 kids and being with my man. Maybe it’s the Cymbalta. 🙂

    Tuesday, March 23, 2010 at 12:40 am | Permalink