Monday, December 05, 2011

Bachmann, Palin and "Flinty Working Women"

Molly Worthen in Slate  does a workmanlike job of setting forth  a point that isn't really new but is rarely so well documented: women are natural conservatives.  Well: if not "women," per se, then (quoting Worthen) "flinty working women," as exemplified here by Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin, with a lineage that goes straight back to Phyllis Schlafly (who, I am somewhat surprised to learn, is still mixing it up).  All of which supports an intuition I've tried to articulate for a long time: women live in a world of maintenance, where there is a premium on continuity and order, and little or no enthusiasm for discontinuous risk.  It is men, after all, who ride the rails or spend two years before the mast or make war on Lesser Breeds before the law .  I think Worthen is also talking about married women, who do, after all work, and may, perhaps, qualify as "flinty."  At any rate that seems to me part of the point: women end up holding it all together, including that lunkhead of a husband (think Marcus Bachmann, think Todd Palin)--or is it the point that we are all lunkheads?

Like I say, I can hear a coherent story here.  Look,we work hard,we hold it all together, our lives have meaning.  It's in many ways an appealing story, with one glaring reservation.  That is: the whole enterprise seems to me to be driven by a head of anger as strong and forceful as a steam boiler.  I can't believe it is all the fault of the (alleged) crime of Obamacare, and apparently it cannot be ascribed to  the lunkhead husband.  So where, exactly, does all that anger come from?   

Update:  Have been advised I use the word "lunkhead" too often.  Okay, Doofus.  And, Scrooge, it may not be what Orwell meant, but it's what I mean. 


dilbert dogbert said...

"At any rate that seems to me part of the point: women end up holding it all together, including that lunkhead of a husband (Dilbert Dogbert)--or is it the point that we are all lunkheads?"

I certainly found it hard to hold my family together after my wife died.
Remarriage and a new set of younger children pushed my kids out of the picture. My new wife tried to integrate the two groups but the age differences made that difficult.

Ebenezer Scrooge said...

1. IIRC, Simone de Beauvoir had the "women as natural conservative" line way back in the day.
2. Kipling's "lesser breeds without the law" does not refer to bashing various wogs, at least according to Orwell. It refers to Germans. Orwell sez:

An interesting instance of the way in which quotations are parroted to and fro without any attempt to look up their context or discover their meaning is the line from 'Recessional', 'Lesser breeds without the Law'. This line is always good for a snigger in pansy-left circles. It is assumed as a matter of course that the 'lesser breeds' are 'natives', and a mental picture is called up of some pukka sahib in a pith helmet kicking a coolie. In its context the sense of the line is almost the exact opposite of this. The phrase 'lesser breeds' refers almost certainly to the Germans, and especially the pan-German writers, who are 'without the Law' in the sense of being lawless, not in the sense of being powerless. The whole poem, conventionally thought of as an orgy of boasting, is a denunciation of power politics, British as well as German.