Blogs Are Stupid

Doesn't anyone believe in Dear Diary anymore? What happened to the joy of putting actual pen to paper? And why does every ordinary Jane and John think they can write well enough to burden the world with their scribblings? It’s a mystery that badly needs solving. My first entry contains my thoughts about blogging and will set your expectations. The rest will probably be stream of consciousness garbage, much like you’ll find on any other blog. Perhaps we will both come away enlightened.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Object of Affection

When Husband and I moved in together, we had only known each other three weeks.

Think about that.

It's the kind of thing that now, as a mother, would send me over the edge with worry. He could have been a serial killer. A crossdresser. A BDSM fetishist. A CIA operative.

He was none of those things of course. But he was Southern.

I didn't realize at first exactly how deeply that would affect our life and our relationship. Being Southern is not just a geographical designation. It's a very deeply entrenched set of values and beliefs; some admirable, some disconcerting, some incredibly odd and some downright frightening.

What has always been the most difficult for me to reconcile is the way Southerners view women.

In one respect, they are revered as paragons of familial constancy, loyalty and morality. They are respected and cherished. In the South, menfolk always hold the door, always say Ma'am, and always tip their hats.

They never cuss in the presence of a lady. And they never, ever speak ill of another's mother or grandmother. To do so is an unpardonable affront, one which usually results in a posse of rancorous rednecks coming to call upon one's front porch.

But in another respect, women are overlooked and undervalued. Their thoughts, needs and opinions are not considered consequential when it comes to matters of import. They are incidental and largely...ornamental.

As a survival mechanism, Southern women have developed a strange, simpering manner that belies a core of strengh and cunning and a talent for manipulation.

I found out pretty quickly that most Southern men don't know how to deal with a woman who is direct. And Husband was no different.

I had to kiss him first, if that tells you anything.

In the early days of our co-habitation, he would do this thing that I absolutely could not tolerate. But I wasn't sure how to tell him to knock it off already without sounding shrewish as well as unwilling or unable to participate in the kind of love banter that newly minted couples often indulge in.

Truly that kind of thing is not my style at all, but I don't mind doing it as part of the courtship dance. Far be it form me to flaut convention when it comes to mating rituals that have been a part of our societal norms for thousands of years.

But this one...I just couldn't stand it.

Here's how it went:

Husband: Whooooooooo's purty?

Me: What?

Husband: Whooooooo's purty?

Me: Ummmm. Me.

I know, I know. It was a small thing. Too small to get my panties in a wad over. So for a while I played along, telling myself that my dignity was a small price to pay for a guy who had a real job, lifegoals, and paternal aspirations.

But the more he did it, the more I hated it. Eventually, it got to the point that it was all I could do not to scream at him...ME! MOTHERFUCKER! OKAY? ME! I AM. I AM FUCKING PURTY!!!!!

At first, I wasn't even exactly sure why I hated it so much. But then I realized that I resented the implication that I needed constant validation of my physical attractiveness to feel valued. It made me feel objectified and also somewhat infantalized, which completely icked me out. And it made me afraid that he didn't have anything substantial to say to me, and so resorted to such meaningless banality just to fill the silence.

But as I said, I really didn't know how to tell him that I hated it. It was a new relationship, still tentative and exploratory. It was also the first really mature and healthy relationship that I'd had for quite some time and I didn't want to sabotage it.

And, yannow, I kind of loved him.

But it finally got the best of me and one day, I just snapped. Well, not really snapped so much as just decided enough was enough.

Here's how it went:

Me: I have to tell you something that might make you feel bad.

Husband: Oh shit. You want to move out, don't you?

Me: NO! It's just that...that thing you do...asking me "Who's purty?"?

Husband: Yeah?

Me: I hate that. Like....really, really a lot.

Husband: Uh. Okay. You don't want me to do it anymore?

Me: No. Sorry.

Husband: It's okay. How long have you felt like this?

Me: Pretty much since the first time you did it.

Husband: Why didn't you say something???

Me: I didn't want to hurt your feelings.

Husband: Oh, baby. It doesn't matter. It's just a dumb thing my Dad used to say to my sister and...I don't know, it just stuck with me I guess.

Me: Did you say it to Megan?

Husband: Yeah.

Me: Did she like it?

Husband(shrugging): She never said she didn't like it.

Me: Hmmm.

Husband: Why don't you like it?

Me: I don't know, I just feel....really dumb saying it. And it makes me feel...like an object. Like, all I am is pretty.

Husband: Really?

Me: Really.

Husband: I didn't mean it that way. I won't do it anymore, I promise.

Me: Okay, thanks. You're not...upset?

Husband: No. I just feel kind of like an idiot, is all.

I had hurt his feelings, just a little. And then I wondered why I had to go and make such a big deal out of something so stupid. I felt compelled to explain further.

Me: You know, I'd really like it if you would ask me something else though. Something meaningful.

Husband: Like what?

Me:Well, you could ask me how my day was. Or what I think about global warming. Or saving the environment. Or if I've read any good books lately. You could ask me if I have an opinion on the Gulf War. You could ask me what my fondest childhood memory is.

Husband: Okay, baby, I get what you're saying, I really do.

And he did.

I'm happy to say that we survived that particular tempest in a teapot and went on to have some very gratifying and meaningful conversations. Despite my fears, it turned out we had plenty to talk about.

Fifteen years later, we've grown and matured together, and gained a lot of insight into one another. He understands now, knowing me as well as he does, exactly why I would find such a thing completely offensive. And I have learned that such things aren't really worth getting all upset about and aren't meant to be insulting or demeaning.

I can't change hundreds of years of habitude. But I sure can enlighten one little ole redneck boy. And I can raise his children without the gender bias that has plagued generations of their Southern forebearers.

Now, when a Southern gentleman calls me "sugar" or "darlin" or "sweetheart", I scarcely bat an eyelash.

I do teach my boys to open doors and say "Ma'am". But I also teach them a pretty face is not the sum total of a woman's worth.

Recently, I was talking to Pre-Pubescent One about a new girl upon whom he has a fairly wicked crush.

Me: Tell me about her. What is it that you like about her?

PPO: I don't want to tell you. You'll laugh.

Me: I would never laugh. You know that.

PPO: Well....She's interesting and smart. And she's not all giggly and stupid.

Me: DUDE. Why would I laugh at that?!?! That's the BEST reason to like someone.

PPO: I know, but, not everyone thinks so. Most of my friends think that being pretty and like....having big boobs and stuff is the most important.

Me: Well, it's not. And I'm really proud of you for seeing beyond the superficial to the person underneath.

PPO: Well, she's pretty too.

Me: Icing on the cake, my boy.

PPO: Huh?

Me: Nevermind.

So, despite the culture of superficiality and ojectification in which my boys are steeped here in the South, I think they are getting the message that women are to be valued for more than their physical assetts. I think they are developing a preference for girls who are direct and honest and forthright, smart and interesting and strong.

Of course, a nice pair can still turn their heads, but I have to accept that I can't overcome eons of biological programming either.

Anyway, I think it all bodes well for my futher as a mother-in-law. Unless contrary to all that I have taught them, one of them marries a Beauty Queen.

Then there might have to be bloodshed. Or at least some gnashing of teeth and rending of garments.

I'm getting ahead of myself, aren't I?

Go figure.

26 Comments:

  • At 9:25 PM, Blogger Fairly Odd Mother said…

    I wonder if, after your 'talk', he ever started, "Whooooo's. . ." and then thought---WHOOPS! and replaced the ending with. . ." hungry for dinner / ready for a movie / got the remote?"

    You're teaching your boys well.

     
  • At 10:45 PM, Anonymous AA said…

    Well... just don't be guilty of reverse prejudice.. pretty girls can be smart too. I HATEHATEHATE it if you are decent looking, and smile at people, and you are assumed to be an airhead. Like... if you are 5'10" and have long blonde hair and a brain. Me, bitter? Not much.

    Some of the smartest women I have known have also been very attractive. I think the difference is in how they behave and carry themselves. I never could stand the screaming giggling.

     
  • At 10:47 PM, Blogger Mamma said…

    When I found out I was having a boy my first thought was "oh my god I'm going to give birth to a person who is going to ask a girl for her number and never use it."

    How's that for getting ahead of yourself?

    And as for that "Who's purty" thing? That would have made my skin crawl--and not even for the women only as valuable as their looks reason but dude who says purty??

     
  • At 11:10 PM, Blogger Angela said…

    It sure isn't easy overlooking little things
    I am very direct about what I like and don't like. So far I am still married.
    Relationships can sure be a pain in the behind

     
  • At 11:49 PM, Blogger margalit said…

    Aww BA, You're SO purdy!

    sorry, couldn't help it. My teenage son is definitely wise on the women are more than pretty faces thing. His current "lady" (because he does a hilarious barry white thing with her) is, as my mother would say, a complete meeskite. Which is Yiddish for VERY homely. But she's smart an plays a wicked guitar and loves Buffy and Angel and all the same movies he does.

    And they seem perfectly content with their odd little relationship.

     
  • At 12:08 AM, Blogger jen said…

    whooooooo's purty now?

    hee hee.

     
  • At 12:42 AM, Blogger Lisa said…

    We do this thing with our dog...

    Me or Hubby: "Who's da baby? Who's da pretty baby?"

    Dog: wags tail fast because she likes it when we say that.

    SO uh yeah, I can completely see why you wouldn't like that. And I'm so proud of you for telling the hubby you didn't like that and for thinking about WHY you don't like it. (I would have just gotten pissed and yelled alot without knowing exactly WHY I was angry.)

    Plus, I'm so happy you're raising your boys to "see beyond the boobs". Sounds like your boys have gotten the message. And that's because you're an awesome mom!

     
  • At 8:19 AM, Blogger Avalon said…

    What a sweet husband you have. Even if he did need a little re-training.

     
  • At 9:51 AM, Blogger Pioneering in PA said…

    Since I started the dating scene, I allowed men to dominate my life, down to the stupidest detail. I didn't do what I wanted, when I wanted, or even have my own identity. I was always referred to as "mine". I hated it, but thought it was meant to be that way.

    When I decided to try to make a relationship happen with my current hubby, I pursued him. I went for the jugular, I set the dates, I made the rules. And he let me. I always thought he was a door mat, and that could lead to trouble, so I talked to him about it. His answer was justified, that as long as he didn't feel used .. then I was worrying over nothing.
    I trained him, in every aspect. I hated the way he kissed, told him so, and since then he has swept me off my feet every damned time. Behind closed doors, he has paid attention to me even when I wasn't talking, and has fine tuned me to a level I thought never existed.
    Anyway, I'm rambling and telling you things that you probably don't want to know. I'm glad that you were able to confront hubby with how you felt on the purty thing.. I know I would have felt the same way you did over it.

     
  • At 10:38 AM, Blogger Amy Y said…

    That would have driven me insane, too. Good for you for talking about what was bothering you in order to make your relationship better! And the other commentators are right ~ you are raising your boys to be great men. I don't think you have to worry about them marrying a beauty queen! :)

     
  • At 11:22 AM, Anonymous Andrea said…

    I don't blame you for being uncomfortable with that. That's how I talk to my dogs. They go nuts over it. Maybe it's the baby talk aspect, too, that makes it demeaning. Good for you for saying something, and good for him for getting it without getting his feelings (too) hurt.

     
  • At 11:31 AM, Blogger sltbee69 said…

    Eew!I can see why you hated that! It does sound like something you'd say to a dog or cat. It sounds like you did a great job working it out and you are raising your sons to value the person not the looks. WTG!

     
  • At 11:36 AM, Blogger JMC said…

    What part of the south? Because I grew up in Charleston, SC, and I don't know one single person who says shit like that. Yeah, they say darlin' and honey and sugar, but that's mostly just the men who are too old to be retrained, and they mean nothing by it. They say it to women who they know are more educated and intelligent than they are. Not to bring them down, but as terms of endearment. Like you said, overall they value women.

    I do know some women who are the way you mention, but they're few and far between.

    What I DID notice growing up, is that these southern phenomena you mention are mainly upper class things. The more money people had, the more likely they were to behave like that. Which is the opposite of what one would think. But the women of which you speak? The only ones I knew were high-society. Those of us who grew up with less - we don't cotton no bullshit. ;)

     
  • At 12:15 PM, Blogger the only daughter said…

    Yay to you for the lessons your are passing on to your sons.

     
  • At 1:11 PM, Anonymous Miss Britt said…

    That's awesome that you can see you're making an impact on your son.

    But I don't think I WANT to learn how to not be offended by "sugar", "sweetie" or "darlin'" from a complete stranger.

    Although living down here now, I suppose I should at least get used to it.

     
  • At 4:06 PM, Blogger Mama Drama Jenny, the Bloggess said…

    So what do you think about global warming?

    PS. I'm totally Southern and I would shoot my husband in the face if he asked me if I was purty. He does however sometimes pin me to the ground and not let me up until I tell him he's my daddy. That's weird, right?

     
  • At 5:33 PM, Blogger Angela said…

    Oh my God. I think my father in law was Southern. I almost thought my father was...but then there was the whole tipping the hat, holding the door, never say anything bad about women thing...and I realized that my dad wasn't Southern. Nope. He was....something else entirely.

     
  • At 5:54 PM, Blogger Chicky Chicky Baby said…

    Just another reason why I can't live in the South. That kind of thing would drive me cah-razy.

    Sounds like you trained him good and early. Smart woman.

    Who's smaaaart? C'mon.. Who's smart? You are.

     
  • At 6:56 PM, Blogger Drowning Pisces said…

    Nice to know he thought you are "purty" ... but ya... get why you didn't like it.

     
  • At 11:18 PM, Blogger JaniceNW said…

    My hub and I dated for about 2 weeks and then moved in together. It took him 3 months to ask me out. He's Dutch maybe that'sm like southern in a different language?

    Great story, again. Thanks.

     
  • At 11:39 PM, Blogger kevin said…

    Being a Southerner who married Yankee I have to concur with your take on how we view women. I will always remember being in a store with my dad when two women walked by, one quite cover-girlish and the other much less so. We both gave them the double-take and he informed me that one you date and the other you marry . This isn't to say that the hot chick couldn't also have potentially been marriage material, but this was basically his mildly crude way of saying plastic beauty is only skin deep and does not a marriage make. But it sure is fun in the meantime.

    While it may be off-putting to some, my wife has always enjoyed being objectified, and she harbors an attraction to Southerners for this reason. She is more educated than I and has more of her original teeth, but sometimes women outside the South have what I call the Bo Duke fantasy. Had I known this earlier on in life I would have been playing the hicksploitation role ages ago in order to get laid.

    On another note, what's wrong with BDSM fetishists?

     
  • At 9:47 AM, Anonymous Andrea said…

    Yeah, I'm with AA. Speaking as a girl with a 'nice pair' who's been told she's fairly attractive--and is supposed to be stupid because of it--it's very annoying.

    THough I know that's not what you meant.

    However. You have inspired a blog post (but not today). Thanks. :)

     
  • At 11:35 AM, Blogger anne said…

    Your husband sound like a very sweet man even though the sweetness was a bit misplaced with the Who's Purty Game. Until a woman like came along to tell him it could possibly be annoying, how was he to know?

    Good for you for how your boys look at girls/women as well. A well done job on your part.

     
  • At 3:58 PM, Blogger Tismee2 said…

    Great blog again! My husband keeps telling our sons that if they come home with some riff raff they won't be inheriting any decent jewellry! He won't let his Grandma's diamonds go to just any old wife!
    I found my eldest looking for 'phonograpy' a few years back!

     
  • At 11:11 AM, Blogger Wisconsin Mommy said…

    You are raising some great boys there! If I had a purdy gurl, I'd want her to marry one of them!!

     
  • At 4:14 PM, Blogger West Coast Diva said…

    This was the best.post.ever.

     

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