sure you can tell the difference in this software upgrade

Thu, 26 May 1994 09:30:59 EDT


While I'm trying to figure out what I'm doing, let me ask you whether
or to what extent the entire body of usages of the form "working [my][his]
[?] butt/[euphemizing arse colloquialized 'ass'] off" is not [linguistically]
gendered masculine; also, socially-constructed culturally-categorized
gendered role-appropriate masculine, modified with difficulty in utterances
of or allusions to females to obscure this: "working my fanny off," "working
her buns off." The pronouncedly masculine usages may derive from assertions
and complaints by males that they are not as useless as they may appear at
times to be or accused of being by housework-frantic females; implicitly,
that they outearn women; they personify the money power, and deservedly so.
More unequivocally [linguistically] feminine is, "worked herself to a
frazzle," women having such delicate nervous systems connoted thuswise.

Why did I say that? For no other reason than to remind everyone that
permitting any usage at all in the English language to slip through the
rules of political correctness is merely a failure of theory. Now let us
proceed to the dirty parts.

"If you look at the models currently featured on the [covers of] women's
magazines like Cosmopolitan, etc.," you say, "it seems clear that bigger
breasts are replacing the tall, slim, smaller bosomed models." I'm looking.
The current etc. has the late *Mrs* Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis,
hitherto having functioned infallibly as signification, in checkout-line
contexts, of propinquity to the cash register, on its cover for what one
hopes is the final occasion. As does its archrival, et al. (With that
millstone passed, one hopes to at last have a conspiracy theory at hand,
from the usual wackos, working the Noble Lady, till now curiously exempt,
into some definite functional/territorial subdivision of the Generalized
Them.) With deepest gratitude I availed myself of this pretext, Tuesday
night, of purchasing Cosmo at the 7-11, devising a cover story for the
cab dispatcher, viz, getting munchies; looking at dirty pictures as a stated
objective, however true, is not permissible. Total cost of over $20 included
munchies, pepsicola, Cosmo, weekly newsmagazines etc. and et-al., fare, tip.
True objective was reminding myself of why it is allegedly normative for men
to want to look at women, which I am strictly forbidden to do, as you know,
in accordance with sociology department rules, enforced with the aid of
surveillance by graduate students (who informally informed me that surveillance
exists but such that I'd get put away for Paranoid Delusional Schizophrenia
if ever alleging being so told).

Before you read any more, Mike, please answer this: *How could you tell*?
Howbeit not discernibly untall, or less tall than is normative for much-
misnamed Cosmo (a hick magazine if you ask me for women who never go into
the city, never do much of anything, even, and when they do it in the office
are paid accordingly). Elsewise, having never done a diachronic analysis of
Cosmo covers with careful scrutiny of imagined proportionality, it's not
likely I'd have noticed larger breasts. As more unarmenian than immigrants
currently objects of racist job-dread at all levels of the occupational
presige cum alleged "skill" hierarchy; as mentally Retarded in social-behavior
acquisition with rapid extinction, with disuse, of what's acquired; as in
the specific instance utterly apathetic to allarmenian breast-fetishism,
hence to my eye the model's back is quite fetching enough (as this writer
is habituated to fixations on whatever skin is uncovered both in the parti-
cular and - fashion dictating patterns of covering or uncovering - the
general). It did not, never has, occur to me that women's fashions enjoined
larger breasts or any trend whatsoever; nor that any of this would have had
any relevance to me. The rule was, first come, first served; and there was
no line. At no time did women desire me as sex partner excepting, in certain
periods, those bent on doing just *anything* to horrify friends; also, in
bygone days, the odd woman driven by a census-enumerator imperative to leave
no one out. This was when I had "Professor" in my name. As mere marriage
object, I did find two willing to share an occupational prestige score (on
the Humbert-Siegel-Rossi scale) of 78, where, say, an MD is 82 and a Justice
of the Supreme Court is 96. Who cared, really, if a woman had breasts; this
is what fantasy is for; and even so, I had other disappointments: From poor
eyesight, with inadequately masculinized skin, I fixated on tactility; and
this is associated with fingers (and toes, if she's clever, which is rare).
Long, supple fingers, each with mind of its own, dance blindingly over the
keyboard; but when she gets to touching *me*, this is the historical present
tense, she's got them glued together in a paw, on contact is dearousing, and
this office machine right here is the focus of insane jealousy at this very
time. (Must hurry, finish this before women arrive and I hafta *watch it*.
Against the Rules, and my occupational prestige score, anyhow, is UNDEFINED.)

Incredible, isn't it, how Normals get preoccupied with invidious rankings
of phenotypic traits, these being relevant exclusively to standardized
evaluation. To a considerable extent, their importance in actual sex is
greatest in those weirdos who brighten with floodlights, not as you Normals
supposedly, I've read as much, dim, use candles, or darken completely.

Niki Taylor (name or alias for ostensible organism on cover for June 1994),
19, is bio-ed as engaged to a football linebacker, 24; in first paragraph,
"ENGAGED!" More purple <ugh> boldface, "BIGGER"; and here, Mike, you are
on the nose: "I have to say, since we've been together, I've put on ten
pounds, and I love it. Now I've got hips and boobs,...I'm more of a woman."

Height is given at five eleven, unshort as said, and weight at 128 pounds
armenian, which is not much woman spread over the expanse required. Nothing
in this column, or any other part of the issue, any issue, is uncontrived
or without considerations relevant to marketing and "demographics." Which
are as suggested earlier. The models look, in general, uh, *common*, even
wearing high or even stiletto heels in selfstyled "Fashion" section. The
look of vacationing [more likely between-jobs office temp] secretaries
playing at Affordable priced callgirls for escapism.

This is several socioeconomic strata below the Upper Middles, that's you
and your feminist friend, Mike, the professionals (who study the Cosmo
readers as mere data objects) and managers (who fire them for low keystroke
count) who are or mingle with or neighbor the women the junk in Cosmo is
peddled to; and up. In the unrarified strata, the major fears, terrors,
anxieties, and stresses are, from the contents of this and the March issue,
getting fired ("Swimming with sharks: When your colleagues are out for
blood"), not even getting hired ("Ten tips for getting a great job"), or
not losing such a sorry specimen of a male as they may have stashed in the
bank (as should be expected, the cover's bait, "Men who want Women to
dominate them," is a fake; Cosmo is not Pesthouse Variance; what is going
on is a speedup on the second shift; and specifically, it means that the
male money power now commands women to take over the former male Responsi-
bility of initiating sex acts, "When he wants *You* to take charge in bed";
allusion is to Arlie Hochschild's The Second Shift).

Lots of foreign news is the likeliest cause of thick main news sections
of The New York Times, and that for Wed, 25 May, 1994 is thick, recalling
the principle enunciated by A.J. Liebling, The Press, 1947: "The Times
foreign news coverage is entirely dependent on the state of the market
for women's underwear." [Precise wording may differ.] Sure enough, p. A5,
"Christopher Feels Capitol Hill Heat on China," story run in narrow sliver;
remainder is Bloomingdales ad, "Save 25% On Essential Intimacies For Summer."
Model is broadshouldered notwithstanding slouch, long-armed, large-handed and
supply-fingered (left hand softly drifting over right leg below knee mmmm),
upper legs and thighs indeed rounded (yet wholly without fold of flab normally
seen on empirically observable seated women), and healthily firm expanse of
left leg extends quite amazingly far to wellmuscled calves, unusually non-
delicate ankles, and large, sturdy expanse of foot, oh god, untrammeled toes
protruding quite a distance. The appreciation of an impressively large woman's
foot is underdeveloped in armenian men. And wouldn't have occurred to me,
either, were it not for my hypothesis about the contemporaneity in China of:
(a) Social revolution at the end of the Tang Dynasty (618-907), sometime
during the period beginning with the outbreak of Huang Chao's rebellion
in 865 through the dynasty's definitive fall in 907, through the Five
Dynasties period (907-960) ending with the coup of General Zhao, founder
of the Song (960-1279) --
*and* --
(b) The origins of Chinese footbinding.
The women of the hereditary aristocracy overthrown (it vanishes there-
after) in this revolution did a lot of horseback riding. Large feet were,
if not prized, at least useful. [My fetish for tonight!]

Mike, tell your butless friend that, with no ifs, ands, or but[t]s,
cigarettes inclusive, there is no threat to the women's movement. The
latter may be susceptible to criticism as socially narrowly-based (see eg
P. Hewlett, A Lesser Life); but in the strata where its core strength
resides, there is no comparably applicable threat.

It looks to me like another instance, recurrent in capitalism, of
insecurity of employment reinforcing social discipline. This, by fostering
a deferential posture with respect to social superiors and employers, may
correlate with, conduce to, or more directly cause a recrudescence of
social conservatism and archaizing practices: It is to be anticipated
that symbolically deferential, even servile, behavior will *seem* to
flourish; and that this will *seem* to flatter blue-collar and lower-
middle males. Women of these classes, who formerly may have paid lip
service to feminism by way of fashion, may reject it for the same reason.
Which will not be evenly spread over the whole area of the united snakes
of armenia but rather concentrated where latest waves of "downsizing"
Even so, it's long past time for general social Upheaval, which
as the skirt cycle seems to show, finds a period of social-disciplinarian
hierrarchical authoritarianism succeeded by one of revolt or a cultural
phase marked by so-called "dissipated" behavior.

Don't worry about this level of superficiality, and at that, among
people who do not live in your neighborhood and whom you never meet excepting
only their most exceptional offspring. They are born to lose, and will stay
that way unless, maybe, you lead them.

Let's make 1994 the Year of Chaos, Disorder, and Anarchy.

There is no such thing as revolutionary excess before seizure of power;
what society got, it deserved, and worse.
This has been an unpaid political announcement.

Daniel A. Foss