Perfume and Shit
During my first go-round in graduate school in the US, my closest friend was this brilliant, quirky, and tortured Dutchwoman. Through her and other Dutch I’ve encountered, I, the over-polite Canadian, came to appreciate their delicious bluntness. I’ve since found that they have a just-so way of putting things that hits the nail on the head without destroying your thumb.
I’ll always remember something my friend said that has since had great application in various situations. While she was speaking literally, her words provide a great metaphor.
We were talking about bathroom habits for some strange reason, and I think she was commenting on what she believed was the American tendency to spray perfume or some other artificial smell after doing one’s business in the bathroom. She said:
“I don’t know why people do this! I’d rather just smell your shit than a mixture of your perfume and your shit.”
The implication, of course, is that you can’t cover up reality. And to follow: why should we try? It doesn’t actually work.
I’ve found myself coming back to this simple, but brilliant, comment on the recent human tendency to put a positive spin on political/social/research conclusions and theory. And recently, I’ve been reminded of it in critiques of certain feminist conclusions about the state of things. Conclusions and theories are discarded with the sweep of a hand simply by calling them ‘pessimistic’ or ‘depressing’. It’s not even a valid argument. Something may well be depressing, but that is unrelated to its veracity. This kind of dismissiveness can show up when feminists rightly point out that men have behaved as vicious sons-of-rapists for millennia, and if they wanted to change, they very simply would. Dick supporters will start in with their “That is too pessimistic! Too depressing to contemplate!” spiel. They insist that men can and will change if we just reason with them. Show them the error of their ways. They just need our bottomless female understanding, coddling, and education. But smart feminists have pointed out that men already have been sucking our helpfulness dry for a long, long time. We’ve done all of the above and then some. To no avail. Men don’t want to change. And they never will change. And hell, yes, it is depressing. But it is true. The truth usually isn’t roses and puppy dog kisses. The truth is slavery and rape for women and girls, ad infinitum.
And there are other arguments/theories/conclusions about the state of things and the state of things to come that receive similar reactions. To be honest, it is much the way many women are treated when they try to talk about their experiences of rape and assault – their reality – people don’t want to hear it. It’s too depressing. Too… real? You can lose friendships, family ties, and partner-relationships if you try to talk about your depressing reality (been there a few times, myself).
Why can’t people handle truth? I think this is subject matter for a future post. I want to get into suicide and death and such. People absolutely hate those topics and I think they are very important. Not only does each person have to face reality eventually, but we are soaking in effects of the male death drive and all that implies from the day we’re born. Ignoring it gets us nowhere but a world of hurt.
I prefer the Dutch approach. I may not want to smell the shit, but I’d rather smell it than have my brain confused by the conflation of two incompatible scents. You can’t spray optimism on the toxic air of Patriarchy and expect to find a viable solution or ‘hope for the future’.
Posted on December 4, 2015, in Anti-Feminism, Language, Male Privilege, Violence and tagged depression, Dutch, liberalism, misogyny, patriarchy, pessimism, reality, truth, violence. Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Perfume and Shit.