Mouse rant blog vent mouse.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Two Americas, two parties, two cultures, one family

For the record, I get along fairly well with my family. They've always thought I was weird, so my outspoken liberalism and dedicated Democratic politics are written off as just so many eccentricities, like calling my high school pick-up the Fishmobile or having a discoball instead of a regular light on my living room ceiling fan. And I in turn figure that they are voting Republican out of habit. They haven't drunk the Kool-Aid, and as far as I know, no one in my family has turned into a Jesus freak overnight. My sister is as much an outspoken atheist as I am. We don't argue politics and life goes on. They think I don't call or visit enough, and I don't, but politics is certainly not the reason why. I always have a right to barge into my grandmother's house unexpectedly and be greeted by my diminutive grandmother with, "Well, it's the Mouse!" and that will never change.

Certainly, there is tension because I jumped the conservative ship into the "permissive" liberal culture, where people get divorced and remarried a lot less, but is "permissive" all the same because men dry dishes, too. For other families, it seems that this tension caused by the growing chasm between the liberal and reactionary cultures has finally exploded in the wake of this election. At A Wicked Muse, you can read such a story of sisters finally terminating a relationship over this election.

Obviously, such a fight is about more than just who voted for who. But voting in this last election turned into more than who you wanted for President and grew to become a symbol of what set of cultural "values" you are committed to. And both sides see the other side as hopelessly sick and wicked, and it's hard to continue a relationship with someone who you see as furthering the cause of wickedness.

My boyfriend had a similar struggle earlier this year when his youngest sister graduated high school and he found that she was forgoing plans to attend UT or A&M because their parents had bribed her with a new car if she would stay and attend the second-rate local university. Their reasoning is an affront to all sorts of liberal feminist values--in a nutshell, they did not think it wise for a young woman to be away from family and undertaking such ambitious goals. I blogged about it at the time, but it's worth revisiting in the wake of families breaking up over this election.

We offered just to let the girl visit, figuring she could have some fun for a week and also take a break from the constant pressure from the conservative factions of his family. And that was when we found out under no uncertain terms that we are regarded as horribly decadent and not fit to influence an innocent young woman. What it is about us that is so offensive I don't know, but I have a clue. The liberalism. The feminism. The cohabitation. The weird clothes. Accepting gays and lesbians. Not going to church. All the things that I would call my values if asked.

Well, it's ridiculous to ask our side to give up dearly held values and morals, or at least pretend to, in order to pander to the other side. I agree with Astarte--we're going to have to start by reclaiming the words "values" and "morals" and stubbornly insist that they are good, valid beliefs to anyone who asks. Without the courage of our convictions, no one will believe us.

45 Comments:

Blogger Hugo said...

Fabulous post. Amanda, history is on our side. With time, we will prevail -- we have to believe that and keep working towards that, even if that means enduring the scorn, calumny, and mistrust of friends and family.

You and Astarte are both right on values.

11/08/2004

 
Blogger delagar said...

I do believe that our side is right; I don't know that history is on our side or that we are guaranteed to prevail.

I've seen a giant backlash over the past fifteen or so years -- of just the sort you are experiencing: people considering our lives indecent, because we are feminists. Because our men help with the housework. Because we don't go to church. Because we support a woman's right to control her own body. Because (here in Arkansas, at least) we support a woman's right to decide whether or not she should have a job, or go to school. (Here, that's the sort of thing her husband ought to decide.)

It's not just, and it doesn't make rational sense. Why shouldn't a man help with the housework when both the man and the woman are working jobs? I put this to my mother and she gets furious: "Your father never changed a diaper in his life!"

Or Schlafly's famous answer to this question: Because God made it that way. If you don't like it, take it up with God.

Ai.

But these replies reveal the problem. Those on the religious right are not rational thinkers. They rely on revealed knowledge. God told them this is how it should be. (Or they believe that God told them this is how it should be, which for them is the same thing.) And so there is no way to reason with them -- short of educating them, and, as a professor working in Arkansas, let me just add to you, that's some job.

11/09/2004

 
Blogger Amanda said...

Well, all that and the sex swing in my living room.

Kidding! I wish I had such an interesting life. It is alarming to be treated like an alien over what seems to be so little. Who cares if I like to read and hate to do the dishes?

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