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Small Town Sexist Cheerleaders

March 18, 2011

[This is dedicated to the sour cunt who called our house at 7:45 this morning and put my wife in a bad mood.]

If I sound unfair in my critiques of small town life, it’s only because I grew up in one and I actually know what I’m talking about. The town I grew up in and called home for the first 18 years of my life, Bethel, Ohio, has a couple of largely pointless but interesting distinctions:

 

  1. It’s close to the birthplace of President Ulysses S. Grant.
  2. It spawned a high school drop out who walked around the world, wrote a book about it, and then proceeded – maybe justifiably – to thumb his nose at all the people who didn’t think he would ever amount to anything.
  3. It was founded by Baptists, overrun by the Methodists, and bent into a sanctimonious pit of despair by the Church of Christ. By the time the Presbyterians showed up, there was nothing left for them to do. And don’t get me started on the Apostolics, Evangelicals, and Charismatics.

Now it has more churches than restaurants, is still a dry town in the middle of a dry township – although you can also still drive 10 minutes in either direction and buy booze, and, as most everyone in my graduating class will point out, without the tedium of actually buying a legitimate fake ID. Once upon a time, Bethel was predominately a farm community, much like where I live now, Mount Carroll, Illinois. But that was in the process of changing when I lived in Bethel; and now most of the big farms were inherited by children who had no interest in farming and so sold, spliced into quarter-acre lots for houses for people who work in Cincinnati but want country living without the smell of cow shit.

There are some marked differences between where I grew up and where I now live and work, and those differences are crucial distinctions. For one, Mount Carroll, more so than Bethel, has embodied in it much more potential for growth and survival. This is partly a question of geography. While IL-78, the main North-South artery, runs right through the middle of town, this is a two lane highway. It takes at least 45 minutes to find an interstate, and an hour and 20 minutes to the nearest urban area. (Chicago is 3 hours away.) Bethel has a four-lane rolling right up to the incorporated town limit sign and is 40 minutes from Cincinnati. Because of this, Mount Carroll will not be a commuter hub. I see this a a good thing. And while I hear some farmers around here still bitch about the plight of the American Farmers, the ones I hear bitching are also some of the largest landowners, and – on paper – among the wealthiest people in the county. If there was ever an example demonstrating that farm subsidy legislation needs to be revisited, it is here. (By the way – did you know that 80% of federal subsidies go to the wealthiest 10% of farmers? Millions of dollars.) Mount Carroll is in the bread basket. Bethel is the buckle of the rust belt. These are crucial distinctions. Because in addition to the death of farming around my old hometown, the steel industry bottoming out had a soul killing impact on Bethel and the surrounding communities.

Bethel has become what it has become – and while I know people still live there, I can’t, for the life of me, figure out why. I was a kid there, and in all honesty, I think I turned out well in spite of living there, not because of it. Mount Carroll’s population is dying off – literally – and the ones who are still here are split amongst those who want to save the town, those who want to save it the way they remember it from 50 years ago, and those who don’t give a damn and are willing to let it sink into the dirt. There are people in positions of power and authority in the county who really think that if the factories will just come back, that everything will be okay. That these people have been continually re-elected is only an indication of how out of touch some people are – at latest count, around 20% of the falling population, since that’s the percentage of people who voted in the midterm election – and how unaware they that their lack of connection with what’s happening in the world is impacting the place they claim to care about. They love this place, their home, in way a stalker loves his target. If they can’t have it the way they want it, they won’t let anyone else have it either.

One of the things that people tend to want to “preserve” in a town like this is the reliable gender roles that have served us so well as a species and a country. This is often coupled (think animal husbandry) with “family values,” which strikes me as odd. This paradigm comes into play often around here. I run into old men at the bars who make dogging and denigrating their wives behind their backs into an Olympic Sport and who make chipping away at their wive’s self-esteem a daily sacred mission. I must have been fortunate, since in my house there was no question that while my old man was The Man of House that my mom was equal, if not more important. He didn’t have to put her down to make himself feel better. He didn’t have to talk down to her to prove his intelligence. I wish I could say that all the members of my extended family were also this enlightened; but they were not. When my mom went back to school, a significant number of her side of the family roundly objected.

And what was interesting about it was that the loudest critics were the women.

Living in Mount Carroll, I’ve noticed this kind of thing play out. When a woman is intelligent or successful here, she is immediately sanctioned. Men will make droll sexist comments that are neither inspired nor interesting nor even funny, really. My wife has endured some of this in the time we’ve lived here, and it still – thankfully – offends her. It should. It offends me. I have offered to go around and kick in the teeth of all the Jethros who make these comments, but she either thinks I won’t or she’s afraid that I actually will. (And yes, I know. I am still meditating on my capacity for violence. I am still trying to be a pacifist. But it’s not easy… which is, of course, the whole point. If it were easy, then there’d be no point.)

By far, however, the women are worse. They are spiteful, sour cunts who, because they’ve been kicked down their entire lives, take offense when another of their gender isn’t.

Now, I’m not talking about ALL the women here. I’m friends with a few and they are not spiteful sour cunts. On the other hand, they’re intelligent and articulate women with brains and various things they are passionate about… which is probably why I like them and consider them friends. This sounds silly, I know… but I actually LIKE talking to people who challenge me intellectually, and I’m pretty comfortable with how thought out my opinions are as well as with the size of my penis and I don’t need to put someone else down to feel better about either.

Maybe because I’m a guy and I know that most other guys are slobbering baboons – or, like me, in the process of turning back into one – I will only on occasion dig into a dumbass at the bar for being a dumbass. This, amazingly enough, makes me few friends. But, I also have to deal with the fact that I don’t like people much, anyway. At some point, I will meditate on this, too.

Don’t confuse what I’m saying. There’s nothing wrong with guys acting like guys. In fact, if most women were being honest, many of them like it when we act…well… like baboons. I’m not saying that men ought to over compensate for all the piggies running around by trying to be less … for lack of a better word … manly. The PC tendency for men to become apologists for the twig and berry gender is bullshit.

But there IS something wrong when women are clearly more violent in their sexism against their own gender than men. And save me all that cultural relativism crap. I don’t care if “that’s just how it is here,” or “that’s how they were raised.” Bullshit. People tend not to change, but that’s not the same thing as having the ability to grow and change. If we didn’t evolve, we would have never survived as a species. People can change. Mostly they choose not to.

 

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. March 18, 2011 5:00 pm

    It has been claimed that the meaning of misogynist is “A man who hates women as much as women hate one another.” (http://www.quotationspage.com/quote/23705.html )

  2. March 19, 2011 2:33 pm

    Good point. But then, in all honesty, Mencken would probably know…

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