28 Jan 2007, Comments Off on The man who mistook his arse for a hat

The man who mistook his arse for a hat

Author: Helen

Asshat! I love it. As an epithet, it’s mocking without being as abusive as, for instance, “asshole”. To my mind, an asshat is surely someone whose head is just far enough up their own arse* to be wearing it like a hat – that is, only about halfway up. So an asshat isn’t the kind of person who has his head so far up his own arse he’s looking at what he had for breakfast. Asshat is really quite a mild piece of invective, and I love it and plan to use it extensively (lexical difficulties notwithstanding*). Unfortunately, I’m probably going to need it often.

Here’s an example in a thread about- sorry, it’s the Julia thing again; I really mean to blog about something else soon- when Commenter A graced one of LP Kim’s posts with the following:

My only quibble is that I’m sure refugee Iraqis, Darfuris on the run and kidnap victims of the Lord’s Resistance Army would be enormously sympathetic of the plight of fully-employed bourgeois Australians, if only they knew.
The reason why they aren’t is because said FEBAs are so stoical in their suffering that no media outlets have access to the abyss of their collective angst.
The suffering of FEBAs is one of the dirty secrets of the world.

Commenter A subsequently flew the “it was only a joke” flag, but Commenter B took up the baton and ran with it like a true asshat:

Most women in the world are legitimate victims of oppression, but are white, middle-class Australian women? Even without comparing them to other men and women in the world, but simply by comparing them to their most obvious binary counterpart, white middle-class men, they hardly come off as significantly worse. I’d say that at least in the elite arena of first-world, middle-class life, we’ve reached a position of rough-and-ready equality between the sexes. If middle-class women earn less than their male counterparts, and they do, there is surely at least some element of choice in the matter, given the level of education and opportunity for the white, middle-class female population (not to mention the fact that in a marriage, a woman has a legitimate, legal right over some of her husband’s earnings, if he’s earning significantly more).

There’s so much wrong with this world view; Besides the fact that it’s flat-out wrong- Australian women clearly do earn less than their male counterparts, and their “choice” to do so is made over the proverbial barrel, due to an unequal division of unpaid labour and discrimination– it’s clearly an empty rhetorical device to shut people up rather than to advance the debate.

This holier-than-thou outlook (Not until poverty and suffering is eliminated in every corner of the globe shall we turn our attention to these overprivileged honky chicks!) if adopted, would mean that women would stay out of the corridors of power forever, barring an actual armed uprising. Would that automatically benefit developing countries or women of colour or women in poverty or (you get the idea)? Why, because the current male-dominated political pool has been so successful?

I wonder if Commenter B is male or female? Let me guess. Isn’t it hypocritical to tell a certain social grouping they should forget about the glass ceiling, if you’re a member of the other social group? I suppose everyone wants to keep hold of their own privilege, but really, does it have to be that blatant?

Commenter B- or dear reader, if you’re nodding your head with approval, instead of trying not to barf- I’ve got some homework for you: Search Pandagon archives, the Feministe archives and the Alas archives by category (navigation will be a bit different for each). Note there are categories for race, class, poverty, disability and other subjects which you claim bourgeois and fully-employed women don’t bother about. Read about income inequality and how much “choice” there is in the matter. If that’s not enough for you, there are plenty of other feminist blogs (some by women of colour, or men) on those peoples’ blogrolls, which can continue your education. I think you’ll find that a lot of “middle-class” women put a lot more effort in trying to redress all kinds of inequalities, world wide, than you do yourself, and many of them are struggling economically.

If you like things as they are, or you are antifeminist, come out and say it rather than trying to appeal to some faux anti-elitism. That’s asshattery.
*Lexical note: I have a problem with mixing US with Australian english. As you will have noticed, Asshattery uses the US “ass”, while the proper Australian spelling is “arse”. I usually adopt Australian spelling, but in this instance Arsehat and Arsehattery just doesn’t look right. And it is an indigenous, so to speak, US term, god love it. So if this blog sometimes spells arse the proper way and sometimes the other way, it’ s probably to do with the context in which I’m writing. It’s weird, but I haven’t come up with any better solution.

Comments (0)

  • Mark says:

    Helen, there’s also the child-rearing, of course. Both in terms of the impact of responsibility for child-rearing on women (especially where the responsibility isn’t shared, let alone shared evenly, between parents), and the affect of taking time to raise children on the woman’s career, as has been pointed out elsewhere:

    “Employers looked at me as if I was roadkill with that gap. I might as well have been in jail.”

    I like ‘asshat’. That will be my word for the week.

  • brownie says:

    everybody WANTS children
    but society doesn’t really want to ALLOW for them

    a little story about glass ceilings and manpower.
    My MBA friend is a female manager, the only one, in an elite Melbourne male bastion. has been for years. all the other managers had cars provided by the organisation. she finally battled them into allowing her the equal privilege.
    her husband (big big deal in federal govt organisation) drove this car on the first weekend it was in their possession – he bingled it !! fer godssake. that’s an asshat. an asshat at the ATO.

  • david tiley says:

    An ass is an endearing furry creature that carried the infant baby Jesus after he growed up.

    She was given an asshat because the sun was very bright and people kept poking her in the eye with bits of palm.

    She still got to do the heavy lifting, of course.

  • Helen says:

    Yes -a hairy ass joke seems called for here 😉

  • […] As well as asshat (which I praised here), one of my favourite US slang works is squick. As in, the idea of Purity Balls squicks me out. The idea of a middle-aged married alpha male hitting on a girl less than half his age (and being so undignified as to text her the next day when she’d told him to get lost) squicks me. […]

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