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Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Mandy the Mighty Mouth

It seems like every time I have to be away from blogging for a bit, a big fat juicy blog scandal erupts, and I'm unable comment on it.

This time it's the Marcotte Moment. Fool that I am, I thought there would be plenty of time to taunt Mandy the Mighty Mouse, because she had been hired on as campaign blogger for John! Edwards!, our nearly-Vice President. But alas, it is not to be, for she has resigned.

I was dismayed that Edwards hired her, but I'm absolutely crushed that she's resigned. I was looking forward to watching her gyre and gimbal as she tried to explain that she didn't mean to say something she'd obviously said.

What did her in? Some speculate that it may have been this tidbit, from her review of the movie Children of Men:

The Christian version of the virgin birth is generally interpreted as super-patriarchal, where god is viewed as so powerful he can impregnate without befouling himself by touching a woman, and women are nothing but vessels.

Fairly mild, for Marcotte, but it's kinda hard to reconcile with that whole "didn't intend to malign anyone's faith" thing.

This is as good a place as any to point out my primary[1] objection to Amanda Marie Marcotte's blogging prominence. It's not that her political views are so different than mine (because they're not, really, once you subtract her millenarian hysteria). It's not that she uses her potty mouth in place of the vocabulary she doesn't have. It's that she's dumber than a bag of hammers.

If you read through that movie review, it becomes clear that here we have a woman far out of her intellectual depth (and it's a pretty shallow depth, at that). Take that one little quote above, for example.

The Christian version of the virgin birth...

The Christian version? What other versions are there? Yes, there are other religions which feature a virgin birth, but they tend to be small and/or extinct. Is this meant to be a self-conscious nod to multiculturalism? Or is she trying to assume an air of anthropological detachment? generally interpreted...

Er, by whom? The voices in her head? The other girls in the She-Woman Manhaters' Club? Or is that more anthropology? super-patriarchal...

That would be on the Marcotte Scale of Patriarchalicity. The other grades are Sorta Patriarchal, Kinda Patriarchal, Patriarchal, Very Patriarchal, Totally Patriarchal, and Phallofascist. Seriously, "super-patriarchal" compared to what?

...where god is viewed as so powerful...

Again, by whom? She's started out this sentence in a rather detached viewpoint, and yet this part of it seems to suggest that she's switched a Christian perspective, because surely our notional anthropologist doesn't view god in this way.

...he can impregnate without befouling himself by touching a woman...

Actually, the "befouling" part here is the "sin" of sex, and it's the virgin who is spared the taint.

...and women are nothing but vessels.

I can't see how a virgin birth necessarily implies that women are "nothing but vessels", and even the slightest acquaintance with the reverence in which Catholics hold Mary would tend to refute this idea, at least as applied to her. But logic is a tool of the Patriarchy, you know.

Now, The Children of Men (an adaptation of a P.D. James novel) is about a mysterious plague of infertility. The movie portrays the events surrounding the birth of the first child in a generation. Here we see Marcotte's cutting-edge feminist understanding:

...the one child in the movie is born to a woman who is dismissive of the idea that the identity of the father is even relevant. And it makes sense, actually, that if there hadn’t been a baby born on earth for an entire generation, the paramount importance of paternity would fade away and the obvious fact that maternity is more time-consuming and immediate would become undeniable....this movie offers an alternative interpretation of the virgin birth—one where “virginity” is irrelevant and one where a woman’s stake in motherhood is fully respected for the sacrifice and hard work that it is.

(This is the context for the digression about the super-patriarchal virgin birth. I'm not sure where the "virgin" part comes into it. Apparently the conception of the child is never explained, and at one point the mother quips that she's a virgin. Surely Marcotte must see that the origin of the child, far from being "irrelevant", is of supreme importance in the context of the movie; the fate of humanity depends on it.)

So we see that Marcotte somehow believes that now, today, in our world, the child is considered to belong much more to the father than the mother, and that the experience of motherhood is considered somehow less strenuous, less of a personal investment, than fatherhood.

It's difficult to know how to refute something so obviously self-refuting. Isn't there a common trope of the mother-as-martyr to her children? Don't women complain that men are not involved enough? Aren't custody disputes overwhelmingly decided in favor of the mother? Are there not legions of women who have decided that having a father really isn't necessary (except in a strictly biological sense) for their children?

While I know that in some societies, at certain times, the child has been considered legally the property of the father, I can't think of a time when this was particularly relevant in the US. Marcotte is bravely defying patriarchal norms that were considered moldy and ridiculous at least a century ago. You go, girl!

You may think I'm making rather much of a movie review, but it's in keeping with her other rants, most of which manage to convey the idea that we're only days away from The Handmaid's Tale.

I suppose that Marcotte might be an excellent spokescreature for some Presidential campaign, but I can't think of any plausible candidates right now. Even Screamin' Howard Dean is not as enraged as she is, and while she and Dennnis Kucinich probably agree on a lot of things, I don't think Grandfather Twilight would approve of Mandy's intemperate language. It frightens the baby bunnies and makes the ladybugs sad. Now, if Ted Rall were to run...

Consult this Cathy Young post for a nice sampler of Mandy's writings.

[1]My secondary objection is perennial gripe of mine: I try not to be too offensive. Although I believe that Marcotte is, really, out of her intellectual depth, I would generally not leap straight from that to saying something like, "She ought to give up poltics and go straight to the whorehouse, because apparently that's the only part of her that works well". See, now that would be offensive, and cruel,[2] and ordinarily something like that would not even occur to me, except for needing to give an example.

Aside from generally being a mild-mannered, inoffensive sort (pause for laughter to die down), the reason for this is that I do not want future employers to google me and conclude that I am some sort of foul-mouthed psychobitch who'll wear my NUKE THE UNBORN BABY SMURFS t-shirt to important presentations. This despite the fact that I will not be hired for my political opinions.

And yet not only do her extreme language and positions NOT prevent Marcotte from being hired by a major Presidental campaign, they were actually considered some sort of qualification. In the words of Slim Pickens, I am depressed.

[2]Although, seriously, if I were Marcotte I would milk this martyrdom thing for as long as I could, and then turn to writing a stack of ham-handed feminist por -- 'scuse me -- romances. They would feature Neanderthal fathers, professors, and bosses who were determined to keep the heroine down because she was an Indpendent Woman. After overcoming a series of unfair obstacles, she would find True Egalitarian Love in the arms of a Sensitive Modern Man eager to Smash the Patriarchy. I bet she'd be good at that, as long as she can come up with a few synonyms for "fuck". (I base this on the talent demonstrated here, though I urge you not to click the link. There she vows that lips that vote Republican shall never touch hers -- er -- except she's not talking about lips. Really, don't click.)