Thanksgiving Is Ruined

The Personal is Political. The Political is Personal.

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October 23, 2008
Stiffed at ten

Well, ten years or thereabouts. Susan Faludi's book is copyright 1999, though parts of it were published as early as 1994-96.

TiR for some reason was inspired, perhaps in light of recent spectacle   , to pull the book off the shelf and see how well it spoke to the present moment.

Parts of Stiffed come across now as rather historically distant.

For example, the book includes a long chapter on the Promise Keepers, an organization that is continuing to soldier on, though in decline and with much less active, widespread relevance.
[The most recent links regarding the group that TiR preserved in its vast, unpublished, virtual Notebook of Pointlessness go back to the first half of 2005.]
Though even that chapter's well chosen detail, storytelling skill and voice of journalistic immediacy return to vivid life the feel of the PKs' era of ascendancy.

By contrast, there's Pat Buchanan. Or more precisely, his mid-to-late 90s-era fans. A tour through their -- & related -- worlds is featured in Stiffed's least remote-feeling (to us anyway) chapter, "Burning Down the House: The Fire Last Time in Waco, Texas."

As we recall, Faludi observed back then:
[T]he following political decade [after Reagan] would be driven by the phenomenon of what the media came to call 'the Angry White Male.'

And here's what Buchanan sounded like back then:
[Buchanan] felt no compunction about rallying his supporters -- those he called the "Peasants with Pitchforks" -- with martial imagery.

"Mount up, everybody, and ride to the sound of the guns!" he cried all the way to the 1996 Republican National Convention.

Mr. Buchanan is far from historically distant. His current opinions remain regularly viewable, for those who keep track of such things. A couple of Buchanan's more arresting, recent on-air moments are here, from late July, and here, from last weekend.

The most intriguing shift, we think at the moment, in the worldviews of these particular subjects of Stiffed's inquiry, between then and now? Attitudes towards Hillary Clinton.

In militia circles, no one was more reviled, resented, or feared than a high-profile trio who might as well have been called the Three Witches of Waco: gun-control advocate Sarah Brady, Attorney General Janet Reno, and Hillary Clinton. . . .

Once the conversation had turned to these women, there was no hope of diverting it.

Faludi quotes from her interview with Mike McNulty, writer and producer of the film "Waco: The Rules of Engagement":
"Hillary is a very strong-willed human being. I think she's literally and figuratively the power behind the throne. I don't think Bill is competent enough to pull off some of the things that have been written about. Hillary's a very smart woman -- and very dangerous. Usurpers are always dangerous, because ultimately they have to exercise evil in order to achieve their ends."

Efforts to get off the topic were unavailing.

Contrast a UK news article from earlier this year, entitled "Angry white males for Hillary Clinton," here.

Fascination with so-called AWMs seems to be back in style, especially among those for whom, we suspect, it, on some private level, never went out of style.

However, such fixations now seem to aspire (/conspire) to combine with wonderment over certain supposedly dudely manifestations, or even with a so-called "righting" of feminism.

Faludi herself (or at least her website) has not yet commented on prominent developments in these purported trends during the past couple months. She nevertheless is probably closely tracking it all. From her May 2008 column, "The Fight Stuff":
[W]hite men are warming to Hillary Clinton — at least enough to vote for her. It’s no small shift. These men have historically been her fiercest antagonists. Their conversion may point less to a new kind of male voter than to a new kind of female vote-getter. . .

Senator Clinton has been converting white males, assuring them that she’s come into their tavern not to smash the bottles, but to join the brawl. Deep in the American grain, particularly in the grain of white male working-class voters, that is the more trusted archetype.

Whether Senator Clinton’s pugilism has elevated the current race for the nomination is debatable. But the strategy has certainly remade the political world for future female politicians.

Second emphasis supplied, in the above quote -- almost as if there should be little surprise at a newer phenomenon that could be easily mistaken for a resurgent cult of Diana, goddess of the hunt
["in    full   cry"?]

[the figure seemed to shine forward so that it now looked like neither the God of Justice nor the God of Victory, it seemed now, rather, to be a perfect depiction of the God of the Hunt.
(source here)

die Figur besonders vorzudringen, sie erinnerte kaum mehr an die Göttin der Gerechtigkeit, aber auch nicht an die des Sieges, sie sah jetzt vielmehr vollkommen wie die Göttin der Jagd aus.
(orig. here)]

              , beloved of lower class men, outlaws & slaves, though not only them.

Faludi's characteristic analysis of the male variant of "conservative    feminism" often connects back up with a double-bind theme that she sounded in Stiffed:
The 'protection racket,' as feminists had dubbed it some decades earlier, worked to keep women in their place by requiring them to turn to men for protection -- from other men. Women's fears, produced by one set of 'bad' men, drove them timorously into the arms of another set of 'good' men. Chivalry was just the flip side of male violence. . . . What I hadn't understood, until Waco, was how the protection racket entrapped men, too. . . .

No wonder that fetuses in antiabortion literature are most often depicted as little girls.

Notably, Stiffed captured a moment for this cohort that was the aftermath of a crushing disappointment for them in the realm of mainstream electoral politics. Hence comes one of the funniest passages in the book:
In the wake of political disillusionment, he ["Michigan Buchananite Mike Flory"]     [uh, this "Mike Flory"?]     noticed, his brethren had begun heading off in strange and disturbing directions. "There's a huge amount of paranoia coming out now with some of these guys," Flory said of his fellow travelers.

"Black helicopters, New World Order, get-your-guns militia stuff. I mean, yes, I think government could be doing things that aren't right, but for crying out loud, I don't think the government has implanted a microchip in my ass!"

What if the dudes suffer a similar political setback this time around?

Ya never know. Could    happen.

How might they explain the loss to themselves, each other and the wider world?

Who, if anyone, will they blame?

Which individuals?

Which demographics?

Which forces allegedly at work behind the scenes in society, the media, and politics?

How might this blame manifest itself?

What might be its outlets?

TiR has no idea.

Though we fear whether in a few months we will be drawn to reperuse an even earlier Faludi volume.

                                                                                                                                                        (while studying this    song)