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collected responses, part 2
2004-04-19 - 3:53 p.m.

Ok, here we go. I'm collecting feedback again... although I've sort of lost interest or impetus or something. I think I've realised that I need to develop more sensitivity to the... nuances of the problem before I can really... um. Anyway.

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Lia rightly gave me a good telling-off for alluding to a rather selectively remembered quote from "Pride and Prejudice":

"Darling, I fear you have gravely misinterpreted the inestimable Miss Austen's work. May I quote to you the passage to which you referred in your entry? "'It has been coming on so gradually, that I hardly know when it began. But I believe I must date it from my first seeing his beautiful grounds at Pemberley.' *Another intreaty that she would be serious, however, produced the desired effect;*" Austen never intended that statement to be taken seriously."

To which I responded with the following:

"Well... I'm in two minds about Austen. My view in high school, which resulted in a great deal of hatred for her, was that she was an unapologetic admirer of the values of the English Upper-Middle class, and that her satire consisted of ridiculing people who attempted in vain, although believing themselves successful to fit in with this most perfect of societies. However, I have subsequently been acquainted with the view that she is in fact satirising the society as a whole, and not just those elements who don't fit in perfectly with it, but that her delivery is so deadpan that most people don't get it. I'm not sure I'm convinced of this latter view. Either way, though, the point I really wanted to make is unchanged, because Austen gives us a pretty good picture of what the conventional view of women's role in society is, whether she's approving it or not, and it's, in my opinion, absolutely hideous. A woman's life has some kind of value or interest up until the point where she gets married, and than it's over... except for the role she plays in interfering with the potential marriages of others. And the dowries... I mean, aren't you appalled at the fact that a young woman like Lydia... that, according to the conventional morality of the time, Lydia should have spent a lifetime in ignominy, and it was only the generosity of Mr Darcy paying Wickham to marry her that saved her and the family from disgrace? And effectively, of course, by buying Wickham for Lydia he is also buying Elizabeth for himself, because how else could she possible repay her debt to him? It's all just so... ugly, I mean, just under the glittering surface it's utterly mercenary, calculating, the transformation of human relationships into commodities with specific monetary values... um, but perhaps you see it differently. :|"

And Lia responded thusly:

"Honey, it's a literary text - thanks to post-modernism, the author's meaning/intent amounts to practically nothing! We can read whatever the hell we want into it : ) Sorry, I'm being too flippant, aren't I? I don't know, I just don't think it's worth getting worked up over something that's 200 years old. Instead, get worked up about what's going on in Afghanistan, and Saudi Arabia, where women are, in every sense of the word, mere objects to be traded with. Where it's not just the men keeping this system in place, but the women too."

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Ok, from forestdream there was this brief but intriguing comment:

"I was about to write a message all about how romance has never been a part of my life, blah blah, but I don't know whether that's really true. Romantic forms of art have rarely appealed to me. But. I think I like the idea in some ways. So, as you say, I've got no idea what "the job" is it's performing at the moment. Random thoughts: does romance in lesbian relationships (romance=society's belief that you're happier with a partner than you are alone) then come outside the patriarchal concept of romance? (Does that definition of romance fit in with yours?) And I'd just like to repeat the below sentiment, because I believe it bears repeating - DON'T DISS MR DARCY!"

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And finally, the inimitable lighthouse8 gave us the following:

"Feedback on ďSmash the StateĒ

In our society patriarchy is still a large part of our culture. Not as big as it was in the past (I agree), but in my opinion it will always be a part of humanity. The old testament said: woman you will leave your family and cleave onto your husband. If you believe in the word, then how can you turn your back on patriarchy? I do believe a man is the head of the household and rules the family, however, with shared love and respect I donít feel that he will treat his ďwifeĒ as a slave but as a life partner.

One day you are your fatherís property, then next you are your husbands.

NO, I donít believe that and never will. However, a shared mutual respect between a man and woman can lead to a happy life. Yes, Iím a romantic at heart, always have been. I live for the romance I have read about in books. I have yet to live it, but feel that someday I will. I wonít turn my back on romance, AND I wonít give up the dream of romance.

If you loved your wife as yourself, then there would be no problem. Because naturally youíd be good to your wife, because youíd be good to yourself.

Well Grasshopper, there is your response. Laugh if you will but itís how I feel. Could be because of the way I was raised, could be because Iím old fashioned, could be because Iím a dreamer or it could be because Iím fucked in the head. You decide.

If nothing else, I hope this gave you a smile to see a little bit inside my head."

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Of course I'm not laughing at you, silly!

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All of which makes me think... that I'm still a long way off really understanding a lot of stuff. However, I have learned that if you want a lively discussion, then saying that Mr Darcy is an embodiment of patriarchal values within earshot of literate women is a good way to go. ;)

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"Oh me, oh my

How she makes that bowhair fly

How she hangs that music in the air" - Guy Clark


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