Posts Tagged ‘feminism’

A quick note on folk music and outdated memes

Alynda Lee Segarra … noticed that her own people — music makers and music lovers — would regularly sing along with choruses about killing women, comfortably accepting gender-based violence as part of the ballad tradition. No more, she said. “The Body Electric” was her intervention.” (Ann Powers, writing on NPR’s music blog).

Might I say that it’s ABOUT DAMN TIME someone in the national folk-music scene took this head-on?

Look, I like ‘traditional folk’ music as much as the next guy, but when the memes encoded in a ‘traditional’ song (no matter how beloved) are completely status quo, I will never be able to give a shit about it: I’m not so blindly loyal to a given style of music that I’m going to listen/learn/perform a song just because it’s old.

Face it: the devaluation of feminine life–the meme at the heart of this woman-killin’-murder-ballad genre–has been a ‘traditional’ part of Our Culture for the last several thousand years…and as readers of this site will know: I got no time for that shit. “Get out of the new one if you can’t lend a hand”, and all that.

(Pretty much the only murder ballad I’ll listen to is Okkervil River’s “Westfall”, and the main reason is because it doesn’t just describe and then stop after the murder (as so many ‘traditional’ songs do) but goes on and at least has *something* to say.)


Doomsday Preppers: Brad and Krystal

Whoo, we finally made it to ‘Gonna Be a Big Bang’, the last episode of the season! (next week’s best-of compilation doesn’t count.)Brad&Krystal-familyOur look at this Tulsa, OK family begins with a voiceover from Brad:
“I think there’s a general misconception about what’s going on in the world, and what’s going on in America: people are somewhat naïve about the dangers that we face and the tough times ahead that we have…The signs and the signals are already there.” Well, dude, you’re on the right track, but the suburbs are just about the worst place to see what’s really going on in the world, insulating and completely artificial as they are. I don’t have time or space here to write a 12,000-word screed on that subject–that’s what this series is for.
Just remember, though, that you can’t expect to change or escape (or really survive, in the long run, for that matter) if you can’t recognize the bars of your cage.

And so, just like literally one out of every two people profiled this season, Brad is preparing for what? All together now! “Economic collapse!…which will lead to Armageddon.” Wait, what? Maybe Brad’s not up on his bible-reading, but even this practicing heathen can tell you that Armageddon (a fictional cosmic battle pitting Zombie Jeebus v. Satan and the Antichrist), would fall neatly into the category of ‘supernatural event’; the collapse of one civilized human economy would not. An economic collapse might theoretically result from Armageddon, but not the other way around.

Let me say this up front: this segment is the epitome of Type IA (Rawlesian) Prepping:
Guns? Check.
House full of hoarded, never-to-be-eaten-until-doomsday canned foods? Check.
Extraneous, expensive survivalist gear (camouflage, gasmasks, body armor, &c.)? Check. (Brad probably some two-way-radios and night-vision goggles stashed in a closet somewhere)
Overbuilt, underground steel box (bunker)? Check?
Judeo-Christian Southerners? Check.
Really, all that’s missing is a sock full of pre-1965 quarters.

So, in the year or so since Brad ‘became a prepper’, he’s spent $70,000 on gear and enough canned goods to fill his house. Literally: the house is only 2,000 square feet, yet every room seems to be full of food cans stacked to the ceiling. You know what I would do if I had a house full of food? Eat it! And then I’d buy—or maybe, just maybe, grow—some more! Huh, what a novel idea!: Food is for eating!

Sidebar: After two seasons of this show, I’ve noticed that the folks who really turn me off are the ones who seem to have, at some point in the very recent past, sat down and said, “We’re going to be preppers now!”, and then spend tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars catching up with the Joneses. Because that’s how we try to solve problems in this country: by throwing money at it! The folks who I really like are the ones who have just been living their life in a way that coincidentally makes them prepared, who shrug and say, “Well, I guess that makes us preppers.”

Now, all members of Brad’s family supposedly go to the gun range every month, and we get to see the six-year-old’s first time. He seems downright excited talking about their plan for the post-collapse world: “We have to shoot bad guys with our own guns, right?” he says with a grin. At the gun range, the youngling gets some pistol training with tacticool specialist Steve Aryan. After the kid takes a shot, Steve tells him, “You’re a shooter, I can tell.” Hmm, I wonder why that is? Could it be that the kid has grown up in a terminal death-culture, exposed to more violence-for-entertainment in his six years than most people should see in their entire lives?

So, apparently, Brad spends two hours every day just inspecting his ‘preps’, and a further two to four hours daily ordering new stuff? And what kind of Stuff does he buy that he thinks will help them survive? How ‘bout a ghillie suit? Krystal puts it on while Brad tells her, “If you wanted to stay concealed, that’s what you’d wear. You’d blend in well.” Sure she’d blend in well, dude, when she’s in the jungle. Not in the ’burbs!

Then there’s some reality-show, forced-tears drama BS where they explain how the “situation has become so dire”, they’ve “had to hold off on expanding our family.” *Sigh* I’m guessing if they had it their way, Brad and Krystal would have six or seven or eight kids, but let’s pretend for a second that our culture followed a different paradigm and didn’t teach us that the Earth was made for civilized man to multiply across and abuse as he sees fit. They already have three kids who have survived past age five, so it’s reasonable to assume they’ll live to adulthood, which means Brad and Krystal have already replaced themselves plus one. If you haven’t noticed, we probably hit the planet’s carrying capacity years ago – so every new discovery made (the New World, petro fuels, any number of vaccines) is really just an artificial extension of the population cliff our culture has created.

And while Krystal already has the waterworks running, she uses the opportunity to go on about how one of her motivations in prepping is to ensure that her daughter won’t get raped and ravaged by the hordes of rioting unprepared folks when TSHTF. Apparently she’s unaware that she lives in an institutionalized Rape Culture, and one of her children will, statistically-speaking, be sexually assaulted at some point in their life, with or without the excuse of economic collapse or other disaster, as it seems our culture has been one of Men Who Hate Women for the last 6,000 years.

Anyway, like all Type I preppers, Brad has a serious Bunker Boner, so he contracts Clyde Scott of ‘Rising S Bunkers’ to build one for him, which turns into a ten-minute detour into Texan Prepper culture. I feel it’s appropriate to point out that Clyde has eight children and builds overkill bunkers that look like trash compactors, so he’s pretty much living the Taker dream.

Our introduction to Clyde consists of him talking into the camera, I guess trying to overcome the stereotype of ‘preppers’ as 1990s-militia-survivalists: “…tell folks you’re a prepper and you get mistaken for someone with a lot of guns and ammo and weapons. Well, that’s not what we try to do.”  That’s right – they also have bunkers and bugout bags!

Apparently, Clyde’s policy is to only employ identical male self-identified preppers. Seriously: every one of his workers is a good ol’ boy with a Mossy Oak hat and a goatee. We then take a further detour when Clyde watches his son try to ride a horse. I guess even though young Jagger claims ‘rodeoing’ is a hobby, he can’t tell if a horse is good for riding or not; he gets bucked off and hurts his hand. Well, that was pointless.

Next up we get all the Rising S crew discussing their prepping philosophy. They’re convinced “something’s gonna happen that’ll be the restart button for America.” Their plan is to “go underground, be the rabbit in the hole, and eat good, because [they’re] preppers!” I dunno, I’ve talked about the inherent shortsightedness of bunker-based preparations before, and I really don’t feel like going over it again. In my opinion, bunker-dwellers are just about as bad as the head-in-the-sand optimist ‘ostriches’ who’ve been lulled to sleep by our Mother Culture and refuse to believe that anything bad could ever happen. While opposites on the spectrum, both groups essentially refuse to own up and really take responsibility for their own survival.

When the family pays a visit to Clyde’s outfit, they check out their new digs before it gets buried. Hailey, ordinary modern teenager, asks if she’ll get cell service. Funny! Then the six-year-old asks “Where’s the TV, and X-Box and stuff?” Ohboy. Parents, better start weaning them off that attention-span-destroying electronic teat before TSHTF, or you’re going to be dealing with some serious junkie-children-in-cold-turkey-withdrawal when they go underground. It also bugs me that their plan while they’re down below is just to play cards and board games. Like, do they just expect to pass the time and keep themselves entertained until they can come up for air, at which point everything will be back to normal, and they can go back to their jobs and keep going to the grocery store? Hypothetically, if I were a bunker prepper, I’d have that thing stocked with musical instruments and a big gorram library. Also, I really hope they plan on doing some decorating or something, because the plain white walls and fluorescent lights would drive me absolutely crazy in about a day.

So, because Clyde builds—like a good little Taker—using the only shape he knows (the box), instead of one actually suited to distributing weight (like a circle or parabola), Brad’s bunker weighs 19,000 pounds—enough to snap the industrial chain they use to lift it onto the truck, which whips back and hits Clyde and breaks his arm. He has a schedule to keep and he’s not going to let a little thing like a broken arm stop him, so they press on to Oklahoma, set up the crane, pick up the bunkerbox, put it in the backyard hole, and cover it in concrete! Is that really necessary? Is there a prepper rule somewhere that says it’s not enough to pay $70,000 for an overgrown tin can, it’s not a bunker unless it’s dipped in Portland cement?

While the nine-and-a-half-ton bunker is hanging 30 feet over their heads, Brad and Krystal suddenly notice all the people gawking at the scene as they drive past: “Pretty sure we’ll be the talk of the block for a while,” she says. Erm yeah, and you’ll become the talk of the block again real soon should disaster strike, now that all your neighbors know you have a bunker.

The experts tell them, as usual, to store water. And then, for some reason—despite these guys being the epitome of Type I prepping—only give the family 49 points, for four months’ survival! Wait, what?!? Why so low??? Could Practical Preppers finally have opened their eyes to see that the bunker model isn’t a real answer, but is at best a misguided stop-gap solution to bigger problems?

Sky-god versus the Almighty Uterus

Let’s start with a nice quote from an interview I read with Gloria Steinem in TIME magazine a few months ago.

“…what I believe, which is that things are a circle, not a hierarchy: the women’s movement and the antiracist movement and the gay movement and the environmental movement are all linked.”  –10 Questions, August 15, 2011.

     I agree completely with Ms. Steinem.  I actually just finished reading an excellent book on pretty much this same topic, Riane Eisler’s The Chalice and the Blade. If you have any interest in women’s rights, anthropology, comparative religious studies, environmental philosophy, social sciences, or just history in general, I’d highly advise checking it out.  While parts of it are a little dated (it was first published in 1988) and a bit repetitive at times, give it a try if you’re into any of those sorts of things.  I’ll try to sum it up and not to bore you with too much anthro-talk.

     Basically, way back in the day, a big chunk of Europe and the Near East was following an amazing way of life.  While agricultural in livelihood (normally a red flag to me), these various cultures of ‘Old Europe’ were Earth-worshippers, which is to say that their religion was based around reverence for the life-giving and nurturing powers of what I call ‘the Feminine Divine’ (manifested in Mother Earth, Gaia, or the ‘Triple Goddess’ Wiccans are always going on about’, etc), apparently on equal footing with a sacred king.  Unfortunately for them (and us), about six thousand years ago who shows up on the scene but the Indo-Europeans.  These Caucasian guys come riding their horses into Europe and bring with them their dominating, warlike, male sky-gods (as in the case of Zeus/Jupiter, Babylonian Marduk, and the Abrahamic god), and commence to pretty much wipe out the tree-hugging Old Europeans (I say pretty much because it seems this female-empowering ‘partnership’ model managed to survive until about 1500 BCE on Crete, when that pesky megavolcano on Thera blew up and washed them away, or at least shook them up enough so that the Mycenaean proto-Greeks could come in and finally take over.)

And ever since then, the power has been held by the He-Man Woman-Haters Club. (You could probably get really Freudian with this, and say that the Dominator model of society stems from a bad case of Uterus Envy, or something).

    See, when your god is a vengeful, armed-with-thunderbolts, fond-of-smiting, bearded-guy-in-the-sky, your society is going to be all about those sort of things—namely, exerting control and making war on those who are different.  I’m not just talking about beating up on your brown neighbors and effeminate men, although that’s always been a popular pastime among Taker peoples; this also encompasses Nature, because if you believe your male god created the world, and your enemies believe their female goddess IS the world, and you’re okay with killing them, well then, you’re probably going to have no qualms about subjugating and controlling the earth either.

'Made to Rule', indeed. Fuck you, Creation Museum.