Tag Archives: HouseWives

With great privilege comes great responsibility, or why I love Downton Abbey.

8 Jan

This will probably be a hint at my age, but I rarely steal cultural content from the internet. I pay for my music and apps and the movies and television I watch online, through iTunes and Netflix and amazon.com, largely because I feel bad stealing, but also because I can afford to pay, and it strikes me as just that I should subsidize musicians and artists and actors now that I am in a position to do so.

I make an exception, though, for content that I have no option to purchase. I hereby confess that I have not paid a dime to the BBC for the very great pleasure of watching Downton Abbey, because the BBC is retarded if they think I’m going to give them money to be a full season behind!

 

downton

Torrent it is! And apparently, I am not alone. Viewers all across the English speaking world have taken to Downton Abbey in droves, and in reading some of the explanatory commentary on the web, I have come to understand that Downton Abbey appeals to me for some very different reasons than cultural pundits might guess.

http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2012/01/15/why-americans-have-fallen-for-snobby-downton-abbey.html

http://articles.latimes.com/2012/feb/05/entertainment/la-ca-critics-notebook-downton-20120205

The story revolves around the Crawley family, landed aristocrats heir to the titles Lord and Lady Grantham and to the seat of Downton Abbey. Maggie Smith is hilariously magnificent as the Dowager Countess and she takes upper class snobbery to the level of art.

dowager

It’s kind of interesting to watch the shenanigans of the Crawley family and especially the relationships between the three girls, who are all so different, but ultimately, I don’t give a shit what happens to them. Live, die, cry, triumph – blah blah blah who gives a fuck?

I’m far more interested in the staff. When I watch Downton Abbey, I don’t imagine myself to be part of the aristocracy. I engage no fantasy of unparalleled wealth and privilege and social acknowledgement. I watch Downton Abbey, taking for granted that were I suddenly transported across time and space, I would NOT be Lady Mary.

Lady Mary

I would be Anna, the maid.

anna

Other viewers might swoon over Matthew Crawley, heir to Downton, but me?

Matthew

I’ll take the valet, anyday.  Mr. Bates.  Swoon!

Mr. Bates

Obviously, Downton Abbey is portraying an extremely romanticized notion of what the serving class actually DID, and the extent to which they were valued, but it’s a STORY, not a documentary, so who cares? What comes across very powerfully to me is how the work is recognized and acknowledged. The idea that the work it takes to run a home isn’t work at all is utterly laughable when the home is Downton Abbey.

candles

The idea of taking the head housekeeper, Mrs. Hughes, aside and asking her “what the hell do you DO all day” is inconceivable, and yet, I routinely get some variation of that question when asked about my own life. “I could never be a stay at home wife and mother. Gosh, I wouldn’t know what to do with myself”. How many times have I heard that kind of bullshit? More than I can count, and it never fails to make me want to slap the shit out the speaker.

Mrs. Hughes

Every aspect of housekeeping is taken apart and lathered with prestige and expertise in Downton. Apprentice kitchen maids are in awe of the cook, footmen long to be valets and under-butlers hope to one day take over from the man himself, Mr. Carson, Head Butler.

Mr. Carson

The work the servants do is valued and despite the fact that there is such a HUGE class difference at play, their social positions are respected and admired by the Crawley family.

That’s another thing I really love about Downton – it’s a complete fabrication, of course, but the sentiment is just and right. Lord Grantham really cares about the people who rely on Downton for their income and livelihoods. Rather than snark over the unearned wealth of the Crawley family, the show focuses on the responsibilities and obligations that come with wealth. Lord Grantham lives in a web that includes everyone, even the lowliest kitchen maid. He must act with their welfare in mind, and not just his own.

Daisy

My guess is that Downton appeals to American audiences in particular because of that idea of a social contract. There is no shame in wealth, but there is great shame in not understanding that it comes with responsibility. Australians have a great saying: “a fair go”. It means that we don’t all start out equal, and that’s fine, but the job of society is to make sure that everyone has a fair go at success. No one HAS to take advantage of the opportunity in front of them, but everyone should HAVE opportunity.

Doesn’t always work out in practice, but the theory is heartening. Shows like Downton Abbey reduce deeply complicated problems in the world down to deeply complicated problems faced by one family, and one household, connected by more than just blood. A place for everyone, and everyone in their place. It’s not a bad way to run a family.

Carson: “We may have to have a maid in the dining room.”

The Earl of Grantham: “Cheer up, Carson. There are worse things happening in the world.”

Carson: “Not worse than a maid serving a duke.”

Lots of love,

JB

Shit, I’m doing this wrong!

7 Jan

Katie Baker, writing at Jezebel has noted something interesting about interns who work for no pay: they’re the new housewives of the corporate world!  Neat!

http://jezebel.com/5973293/are-interns-the-new-housewives

And by housewife, of course she means “highly motivated, dedicated, autonomous, self-directed, multi-tasking and with a skill set of astonishing range and flexibility”.

Oh wait.  No she doesn’t.  By housewife, she means “compliant, silent, submissive and obedient”.

laugh

I had to run that one by Mr. JB.  His response?  “Shit honey, you’re doing it wrong”. 

I’ll say.

Leaving aside, for the moment, the issue of unpaid internships, what is up with all this housewife hate at Jezebel?  Could it be that the Shrews of Gawker media have sensed a change in the air?  Check out this comment from Hannali:

Just wanna point out that all of the housewives I know are strong, intelligent, competent women. I’m not sure where this myth came from that all housewives are doormats. Quite frankly, it’s a lie. Are there men that abuse their stay-at-home wives? Yes, but that doesn’t mean that all stay-at-home wives are abused. This stereotype has been around for far too long. I am eighteen years old, in college, with my own job, and yet my dream job is still to be a stay-at-home mom. Nothing would make me happier than to love, to nurture, and to make a home for my family. It makes me sad that society trashes the concept.

Young women like Hannali must scare the bejeebus out of an older generation of feminists.  Yesterday we had Sabrina saying “fuck off slut culture” and today we have Hannali, whose ambition in life is to love and make a home for her family.

pendulum

The pendulum swings back, as it always does. Let’s do an attitude check, shall we?  What did British men and women say they valued most in a spouse?

graph

Oh my!  Ladies doing housework and men earning money?  Alert the presses!  According to Forbes Magazine, opting out is the new dream for American mothers, too.  According to the annual Forbes survey of working mothers, “ 84% of working women say that staying home to raise children is a financial luxury they aspire to”.

84

http://www.forbes.com/sites/meghancasserly/2012/09/12/is-opting-out-the-new-american-dream-for-working-women/

I wonder if that 84% knows that once they become housewives, they will also have to be silent, submissive and obedient?

It’s interesting, isn’t it, that Jezebel likes to portray housewives as some horrifying caricature of femininity stuck halfway between a character out of Les Miserables and an antebellum slave.  When 84% of women surveyed by Forbes ASPIRE to be housewives, where can this caricature come from?

I think Simone de Beauvoir said it best:  “No woman should be authorized to stay at home to raise her children. Society should be totally different. Women should not have that choice, precisely because if there is such a choice, too many women will make that one.”

Now, who is it again that wants women to be silent, submissive and obedient?  Was it the patriarchy, which understood that women do not like to be parted from their children and created a society that kept families together as a functioning unit, or feminism, that also understands women do not like to be parted from their children BUT DOESN’T GIVE A FUCK WHAT WOMEN WANT?

Shut up, sit down and take it.  Yeah?

fuck you

Well fuck you Simone de Beauvoir and fuck you feminism.  Also, fuck you unpaid interns. Get a degree in something that actually gives you some skills and hey guess what?  People will PAY YOU MONEY.

http://judgybitch.com/2012/11/03/a-decade-of-dishes-will-turn-a-girl-into-a-woman-and-a-sensible-one-at-that/

And Hannali, if you’re gonna keep reading trash like Jezebel, I hope you even it out with some JudgyBitch.

nolite te bastardes carborundorum

Don’t let the bitches grind you down.

venus

Lots of love,

JB

In praise of prostitution, or the difference between a hooker and a housewife.

3 Nov

A common trope in modern feminism is to compare women who are dependent on men for their financial security as “prostitutes”, as if that’s supposed to be some kind of insult.  First, ain’t it just peachy that the people shitting on women who happen to be prostitutes are actually OTHER women who claim to be pursuing a political agenda that benefits WOMEN specifically, and that’s what feminism IS: a political ideology designed to promote the interests of women at the expense of men, children and oh, other women.

Feminists:  We love women!  Except you whores!  And you housewives can go fuck yourselves too, because you’re just a different kind of WHORE!

All hail the sisterhood.  Yeah, thanks.  For nothing.

Guess what?  I am a housewife and in actual fact, I AM A WHORE!  I trade sex (and a whole bunch of other things) for my financial security, and damn it’s fun.  I love having sex every day.  Bring it on!  The difference between me and a hooker is the NUMBER OF CLIENTS!  I have one.

There is a huge disconnect in American culture (and a bit in European culture) about the level of control a woman should have over her own body.  Want to kill your baby in utero because, oh gosh, it’s just not the right time for you?  Hell yeah!  Your body, your choice.  Want to decide which penis goes into your body and what the price of that will be?  Oh, now, wait a second.  If the price is martinis and dinner and flowers and a cab ride, that’s okay.  You can trade your vagina for dinner.   But if you just want the $250 and skip the dinner, well HELL NO YOU WHORE!

Let’s think about this from the woman’s perspective for a second:  I need money, men like sex, I have a vagina, BINGO!  What’s the fucking problem?

And from the man’s perspective:  I like sex, there is no guarantee of sex with any given woman, I have money, can I buy a vagina?  What’s the fucking problem?

Prostitution is PROOF there is no such thing as rape culture.  Men prefer an honest transaction with a clear purpose over the murky waters of does she? doesn’t she?, for obvious reasons.  And why shouldn’t they have that right?  Why shouldn’t women have the absolute right to decide what the price of their own vagina is?  A pint of Guiness? Theatre tickets?  Nothing?  $100?  $1000?  A diamond solitaire?  Whose fucking business is it besides the two people involved anyways?

 Popular media likes to moan and weep over underage, drug addicted, helpless child victims of prostitution (read:  male sexual desire), but the problem there ISN’T prostitution.  A drug addicted, beaten, trafficked FLOWER PICKER is just as vulnerable and helpless as a prostitute, but ooh, flowers!  Buy me some!

Oh lord.  I just realized something:  feminism is rife with contradictions.  Oh wait.  Nope.  Saw that a MILLION miles away.

At the end of the day, a man who is completely and utterly satisfied sexually at home (hello wife!) has little need of prostitution.  Not every man is married, though, and not every married man is satisfied.  Prostitution serves a valuable public service in allowing women who need money and men who want sex to come together as grown ups and decide to address their mutual needs together.

Which is not to say prostitutes can’t enjoy their work.  Sure they can.  Check out http://maggiemcneill.wordpress.com for more insight into what these ladies think and feel.

Here’s the thing:  making prostitution illegal is just a way of protecting women who feel they have the absolute right to control men’s sexuality.  If prostitution were perfectly legal and respectable (which it should be), then the implications of “not tonight honey, I have a headache” would be a little more sharp.  “Oh, really?  OK.  Back in an hour, darling”.

Legal brothels would cure more headaches than Tylenol ever has!

And why should legal brothels bother ME?  I’m already a prostitute.  I have one client.  He’s awesome.  I think I will go and fuck him now.  I need  some new boots.

Lots of love,

JB

Disclaimer:  I really DO need new boots.  My old ones have holes in the soles and my feet are getting wet!  I hate cold feet.  L

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