Trundling about the internets Sunday morning, I noticed I had a trackback from a blog I hadn’t seen before: Fastidious.
So, I clicked on over to see what this blogger had to say about what I’d said. Actually, it turned out that it was not Fastidious herself, but her “dear husband” cosbysweater who’d blogged on the appalling lack of facts and statistics in my rant and some of the other progressive bloggers’ posts on healthcare and the public option.
After responding to his post and providing some quotes and a link, I explored further into the blog of this “young, married, female right-winger” to try to ascertain exactly who she is and where she’s from.
Well, I still don’t know, but I do know that something I read in Fastidious’ “About” section stuck in my craw all day, so I’m going to post about it here (she’ll see all my link love and come visit, I’m sure).
Fastidious celebrates the anonymity of the ‘nets by declining to reveal her identity, and she has a long list of things she likes and an even longer list of things she doesn’t like. She doesn’t like the following:
generally, folks who refuse to read, folks who aren’t interested in learning, that every game for the Wii MUST use the Wiimote gimmick,[…]caged animals as pets (birds, hamsters, guinea pigs, etc.), big cities, Air America, Marxism, socialism, big government, “green” life-styles, anything “save the planet,” leaving messes around the house, romance movies, chick-flicks, psychology, ignorance, laziness, liberalism, militant feminism, energy saving light bulbs, MTV, Katy Perry, the amount of time I spend in front of a screen on a daily basis (TV, computer, projection, etc)…, and Keith Olbermann
OK, so we’ve established that she doesn’t like many of the things that I believe in, but I’ll admit I don’t like MTV or keeping caged pets either. So we’ve got at least a little in common.
But you see that little bracketed section that I’ve omitted? I’ve done that precisely to keep up the suspense. The other thing she doesn’t like is this:
women who live as shack-up whores
I’ll admit I’d never heard that phrase before, but it set off my feminist alarm. There are a lot of -isms in that passage of dislikes, and there are a few “folks,” but this is just plain “women” who do something, and the young, newly-married right-wing Fastidious doesn’t like them. And there is no corresponding dislike of men who do whatever that thing is.
So, I Googled “shack-up whore” to find out exactly what it is those women-disliked-by-Fastidious do. Here’s the Urban Dictionary definition:
When a dunbass ho gives up the pussy only because she needs a place to live to get off the street.I banged he bejeebers out of Claire and the next thing I knew her ass was moved in to my hizzhouse with all dem kids! She is nuttn but a shack up whore!
Misspellings aside, here’s my translation: a woman in a desperate situation moves in (and has intercourse) with a man to get herself (and possibly also her children) off the street. Apparently, in the new urban lingo, that makes her a whore rather than a woman making a choice that she hopes will protect her and her family.
That’s totally a person to dislike. A person making a desperately hard choice. Maybe a young, newly-married, twenty-something right-winger can never imagine that she, herself, could ever get into such a dreadful, shameful situation, so she doesn’t like women who do.
Isn’t it nice to be that privileged?
But, you know, I’m sure if the man of property in the above scenario deigns to marry this woman, then she’s no longer a “shack up whore,” she’s a respectable member of the community. A wife! Huzzah!
I’m trying to think if there’s a corresponding derogatory phrase that applies to men who do this sort of thing, but all I can think of is “deadbeat boyfriend.” As in, My deadbeat banjo-pickin’ boyfriend hasn’t paid his share of the rent in five months!
(This is by no means meant to vilify banjo players. It could just as easily be “drummer.”) 😉
But “deadbeat boyfriend” just doesn’t have the same ring as “shack-up whore,” does it? It doesn’t indicate a shameful sexual compromise on his part, does it?
But it pretty much boils down to the same situation: One person is paying the bills; the other person is sleeping with that person and living in their house and (supposedly) not paying the bills. Basically, trying to stay off the street.
OK–now let me pose this question: is it more dangerous for a woman to be on the streets or for a man to be on the streets? Conventional wisdom suggests that it is more dangerous for a woman to be on the streets, and both male and female panhandlers agree with that assertion in the interviews linked to at left.
However, it’s difficult to find studies that quantify the differences, though one study has shown that homeless women tend to spend less time on the streets and unsheltered than homeless men. The suggestion in a number places on the web is that there are more resources available for homeless women, especially those with children.
Another study (in Canada) found that death rates among younger homeless women (<45) were close to the same as those of younger homeless men, though death rates of older homeless women were less than that of older homeless men.
The study linked to in the last paragraph only followed women who were not caring for minor children. One might reasonably assume that a woman with children might be more likely to seek shelter more quickly–whether through friends, family, state or local shelters, if available, or a kind-enough-seeming man who allows her and her children to move in.
Also in the course of my research, I also came across a travel site discussing gender differences in travelers’ experiences. While many of the female commenters said they used more caution than men did, especially while traveling solo, a number of them also said they felt they received more help and more hospitality on their travels because of the perception that, as women, they needed “protection.”
While obviously being homeless and traveling solo are not the same, they do present some similar circumstances, and the resources out there (especially the myriad “safety tips for women travelers”) suggest that there’s a deep-seated belief [PDF alert!] in both genders that women are in more danger when they’re out on their own than men are.
While I realize I’m getting into psychology now (which, remember, Fastidious also doesn’t like), my theory here is that, by-and-large, women are raised and enculturated to view being homeless or even just out on their own as a dangerous situation–something to be avoided or, if unavoidable, prepared for and/or gotten out of as soon as possible.
It’s possible (not probable, but certainly possible), that in certain circumstances, women who are homeless or are traveling solo may be somewhat more safe because of the perception that they are less so.
As a feminist, this presents an interesting discussion–an unequal society (as well as other factors) generates a lack of safety for women that, in turn, generates a perception of danger for unaccompanied/unsheltered women that, in turn, may generate a backlash of sympathy/support for these women that men in similar circumstances don’t receive.
But let’s get back to the “shack up whore.”
When the message that it is extremely dangerous for a woman to be homeless and/or on her own is constantly reinforced (and, of course, it IS dangerous–whether or not it’s more or less so than a person’s perception), that perception of danger may be a big reason why women seek what seems like a safer situation than the streets or the shelters–especially if they have children they’re responsible for.
That perceived safer situation may be a man who is willing to allow the woman (and her children, if any) to live in his house or apartment, perhaps with the tacit understanding that there will be intimacy between the two of them.
It seems to me that the shame is not in the woman’s choice; the shame is that she is forced to make the choice out of fear and desperation.
And further, it’s shameful to–from a position of extreme privilege–single out for “dislike” a group of women who are in the difficult position of making that choice.