The death of Jezebel and the backlash to our anger
I've often said to the well-meaning men in my life, "When men get angry, they're (seen as) masculine. When women get angry, they're (seen as) out of control." These well-meaning progressive men will trip over themselves to own up to implicit bias when the discussion is about people of color. But if I make the discussion about implicit bias toward women, I see their eyes glaze over.
Someone very smart once said: If women don't speak up, they get ignored. If they do speak up, they get punished.
"In that essay, I wrote, “We speak of men and their rage as if it is laudable. ‘Men just get mad and push each other and it's over,’ we say. ‘Women are just bitches; they never let it go.’ That's because we never can let it go."
Saturday night reached a head in my marriage. I've been unhappy for quite a while, mainly because of his relationship with alcohol. Wisconsin; beer culture is ev. er. y. where. Five hour drive to his yearly fishing trip? Drinking all the way. 5 hour round trip drive to and from Michigan for some stuff we can't get here? Drinking all the way. 10 minute drive back from the grocery store for a beer run? Has to crack open a beer. He keeps (kept?) a 30-pack of open beer in the backseat of his car. He used to have the back seat floor piled up with empty crushed beer cans.
"I like the taste." Yeah, you like the taste so damned much that you will mindlessly crack open a beer 10 minutes before you leave for your in-home therapy session. "They don't mind." They don't mind? THEY DON'T MIND? Do you suppose they "don't mind" because you hold EXTREME power over them and the fate of their children? Do I need to call and report you to your employer? "If that's what you need to do." Because you get caught, it doesn't just affect you. Your old white maleness is not going to save you every time. If I'm going to be left alone due to you ending up in jail or dead, I'd rather leave now and be alone on my own terms.
"So you're really not happy? You really are mad about me drinking while driving? I thought it was just a control thing because you never let it go." JFC! I never let it go because you think it's just Shirley being Shirley and she explodes and then she gets over it, but IT NEVER GETS RESOLVED!!! You choose. Your precious road beers or your marriage, because I AM DONE! His concession a few weeks ago was "OK, you're right. I don't need to open one for the ride back from the store. That one IS ridiculous." I'm sorry, how stupid do you think I am? That still leaves alllllll the other drives. There will always be a mf'ing loophole for you. It finally clicked when I once again, for the umpteenth time, stressed that his reckless behavior does not just affect him.
So, we'll see. There's no way I can verify, so it's purely on the honor system. I haven't unpacked my suitcase yet.
Keep raging, ladies.
When you say that you took care of your sister but didn't have the courage to see how unhappy you were or to take your kids to D.C., please know that the courage it takes to walk everyday through the lives allotted to us by a misogynist, sometimes abusive culture should not be diminished. Everyday would have needed so much strength to get through. The very fact that you have become a truth teller and left shows you have great courage. So many women can't do it. I was able to do it but with so much help from my family. I know how very hard it was for you, and I so deeply admire you. Keep telling the truth--there are far too many naked emperors strolling around.
This broke my heart and reminded me how much I want to break shit. Thank you.
“This should not be where our anger ends, smothered by the efforts of mediocre men who insist they can’t sell ads off it. Who insist it isn’t profitable. Who tells us it’s destroying our society and harming our children.” Thank you for all of it, and especially thank you for this passage. We absolutely cannot stop. I needed this reminder.
When I was in the thick of my divorce I was castigated repeatedly by other women, women who would still to this day define themselves as feminist, for being too angry, for not compromising enough "for the good of the children" with a man who defamed me in public, attacked me in private on the rare occasion I allowed him direct access to me, and went to extraordinary lengths to punish me financially in ways that lasted for years. One woman actually suggested I mobilize "our community" to participate in a "talking circle" for us to air our grievances with each other so that we could come to some sort of peace together. Others insisted, and he insisted, that my unwillingness to go through mediation instead of the courts was emblematic of my inherent aggression and combativeness, and not based in an understanding of mediation, which can only be engaged in between parties who both approach the process in good faith. The wasband was the definition of bad faith, and found the boundaries placed upon him by me and the court system enraging. But his rage was "understandable" because I was insisting on utilizing a system that made us opponents instead of "collaborators."
Feh. I just had to ignore them all and do what I knew was right and necessary for me and our kids. I had to construct a life that was my own entirely. I own my house. I maintain my own bank accounts. I control my work choices (to the extent that one can in capitalism). And I have been largely single since my marriage ended, because I will not set myself up for the kind of rage that comes when I submit myself to relationships and institutions that are based on my being the silent, happy helpmeet. It seems from the outside like Jezebel died because it went from the brainchild of a woman to a product owned by men, which was a recipe for it to be eventually shuttered because it no longer served those males' interests. Women will only ever be served within the context of patriarchy when they control the means of their messaging, livelihood, and lives. As soon as men control things then the day when what women need is inconvenient (or unprofitable) is inevitable.
The problem with this, I can say more than 10 years out from my marriage, is that the need to be entirely self-controlled makes it very difficult to navigate asking for help or being vulnerable, which are necessities for true intimacy and connection. When patriarchy demonizes women's rage it also constricts our ability to connect and love. The rage I feel over that is simpler to feel than the incredible grief and sadness which this reality engenders.
This sentence - "I was trying to prop up the walls of a home that was suffocating me." helped to strengthen my resolve to end my 37-year-old mostly unhappy marriage. I had tried for too many years to do just that, "prop up the walls" for a man with an incredibly horrid childhood, actually beginning with babyhood, that instilled in him an angry view of the world. A view that soon came to include me. Here's where your sentence really hits home. I tried for DECADES to caretake and heal the rage he carried, the rage that too often suffocated me and any chance for either of us to be happy. But as hard as I tried, he could not rid himself of it. After therapy, past life regression, and a host of other methodologies; I finally understood, he simply could not or would not stop being angry no matter what I did. That is - until he understood that I was truly leaving and we would never live together again. (I had left him twice and threatened to multiple times in the past.) It will still take some time to separate our lives, but I have the financial ability to do this now (injuries from accidents sufficiently healed to work again) and we both know this is finally going to happen, for good. No backsies. Knowing we would not be able to part immediately, we have been co-existing in a less than 400 sq. ft. apartment for the past 6 months and may need to until the end of this year. As you can imagine, the idea of living with an often-angry man was an extremely daunting prospect, even scary (emotionally, not physically) now he knew with a certainty that he was being left. Surprisingly and thankfully, he has matured more than I ever thought possible and 'gotten a grip'. At first, I thought he was trying to woo me back as he had in the past, not believing I would actually go. He knows now with all the preparations I have made, that I am finally going to seek my own happiness. He is a kind man in addition to being plagued with anger and told me I deserve this. Telling me for several months now that I should feel no guilt for leaving him after the way he mistreated me and I know with a certainty now, he is being sincere. I vacillated still at first (his sad eyes) but there is no doubt in either of our minds that not only is our marriage over, it is a positive thing - for BOTH of us! It has been a long haul though...
My sister is very precious to me and I honor the love and commitment you have for yours. I hope they and everyone you love are well and happy at present.
Not just the one sentence, but reading your newsletters helped me to understand so much of what I had roped myself into and that I deserved to go forth and be happy! Thank you.
I'm furious that I have two nephews who are currently risking their lives fighting in or near Gaza.
And I'm furious that an immediate cease-fire means leaving Gaza run by the same people who, knowing what the cost would be to their own civilian population, chose to kill and kidnap 1400+ Israelis, mostly civilians, slaughtering them in their homes, on the streets of their neighborhoods, and the grounds of their music festivals - and who would do it again if they saw the opportunity.
And I'm furious that Hamas cynically hides behind and under its own civilian population, forcing Israel to make that terrible choice.
And I'm furious at all of the people, in Israel, America, the Persian Gulf, and around the world who avoided that choice all this time with the thought that Gaza was a problem they could "manage" instead of a crisis they needed somehow, desperately to solve.
"The politicians who wrote and complained to my bosses and the same progressives who sat by and watched it happen."
Complacency on the left will be the death of us.
I'm reading this as Morning Mika is reporting on Kevin McCarthy getting elbowed and Bernie Sanders reigning in a blustering senator. I have long believed there are entire industries aimed at keeping people, especially women, and people fighting for civil rights, from boiling over. I feel like many religions, including non-religions like New Age spirituality, all ask the impossible. Turn the other cheek - and maybe the origins of that are grounded in something good, but I think, to overuse an overused term, that this has been weaponized in the service of a power structure that is fighting hard to stay in place. Kaepernick and taking a knee, Black Lives Matter, and other peaceful movements have also not passed muster. The extreme reaction to Critical Race Theory and feminism in all its manifestations are examples as well.
If we all raged the way white conservatives rage about being made to account for their racism and sexism, it could get interesting. I think of June Jordan, and the line from her poem, "Poem About Police Violence"
Tell me something
what you think would happen if
every time they kill a black boy
then we kill a cop
every time they kill a black man
you think the accident rate would lower
I also think of her poem titled, "Poem About My Rights." Jordan did not put a cap on her rage - she expressed it, and I feel like this newsletter of yours is another expression. Thank you.
This meant so much to me today.
Also, intersectionality with disabled. I’ll leave it there.
Contrapoints recently did a video for her patrons about Gamergate, which she admits *seems* like a throw-back, but reading this, I can't help but think that Gamergate really fits as the backlash movement to #MeToo.
The loss of Jezebel is so upsetting. I, for one, am keen to see some solidarity and creative thinking outside the box of Capitalism for creating a new feminist publication space... I am continuously doing my own work in my local community to figure out how to collaborate with other writers and artists so we are not constantly fighting for limited funds but instead 'mutal-aiding' our creative projects into existence.
Beautifully written. I grew up in the tumultuous’60s. Was a young married in the ‘70s. I felt all this back then but felt alone. It’s sad to see how much things have changed and yet not in so many ways. My husband understood, we raised three daughters as people not girls yet it’s difficult to break through as you so described. We , as parents , did the best we could with what we had but there is so much more we can/could do. Now I have three granddaughters and three grandsons who are being raised differently than my kids of the ‘80s. My time is short. I’m scared for the future of my grandchildren. Rage on!
One thing that I think is worth exploring is the business model side of sites like Jezebel. Why aren't sites like these sustainable financially? The Substack model is promising, but it's almost always supporting one writer, as opposed to something like Defector, which supports an entire team with editorial oversight. (I think there's room for both models.) I'm rooting for Defector to make it because I want to see it done. Maybe the indie/nonprofit journalism model, like the Colorado Sun, is another way to build the next Jezebel? Anything that doesn't involve VC mediocre men showing up and breaking it all.
My great aunt died in 2021. She never married because she grew up in a time where there were strict rules about who you could be with. She was an intellectual in a family that didn’t prize education or independence. She introduced me to the arts & using the library. She was a Latin teacher, then a high school English teacher, then became a librarian. When she started to show signs of dementia she told me that the end times were coming. I just wonder what she would have thought, if she’d have known how far our country has fallen backwards since 2016. She took a poetry class in 1975. I received the folder of poems after she died. There is one poem I’d like to send you (not written by my great aunt, but someone in her class). Is there a way to send you a screenshot of that? It speaks to what you speak about.
Amen and amen!
Thank you. Hope and fight for a better future for our daughters and granddaughters!