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3 final notes on “matriarchy”

I am letting go of the topic I began this year with, the coming parity between the sexes. I don’t have enough to say yet. Sometimes we get ahead of ourselves.

Parting thoughts: violence, revenge, the plan ahead.

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Fiction: Marrying into matriarchy (from The Demon in Business Class)

WordPress doesn’t let me tag non-blog posts (the links in the header row), so without occasionally posting excerpts from my book, its potential readers can’t find me by searching. Every so often I’ll post a short excerpt here on the blog. (Especially when my family is down with flu and I don’t have time to write an original post!)

In this excerpt, Walt is engaged to Missy, heiress to an ancient witch coven. He assumes theirs will be a marriage of equals, but her family has their own ideas…

What Walt had assumed would be a late lunch was a cup of black coffee at a cheap conference table and a stack of legal documents. At least Missy had fucked him beforehand.

Walt put down the draft pre-nup. “Half my estate is a lot,” he said calmly.

Across from him, Missy’s mother, Elder Juno McCauley Devereaux; Althee Johnson Brown of the coven; Regina McCauley Everett of the clan. No one explained it but it was obvious. Coven was the company, clan the people with preferred shares.

“In an escrow account,” Althee said. She was black with freckled skin, weight on her middle age, sharp yellow eyes like a falcon. “Once you have a daughter, it becomes hers in trust, managed by you and our financial people. It’s what you’d leave her in any case.”

“But I’d have use of the money in the meantime. And the daughter might not be my daughter.” He had read it three times to be sure. “Is this customary?”

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A matriarchal Iliad

So I set myself a tricky task last post and it’s been stymieing me. How to talk about a more equal culture when one’s understanding of gender roles begins in their inequality? Too easy to make lists of masculine and feminine virtues and vices, but which are innate and which learned? I have some fiction passages from my novel but I didn’t want to go there just yet; they illustrate an argument but they don’t make it.

Happily I got the opportunity to go back, if not to first principles then at least a bit closer, when my wife and I attended Studio Theatre’s production of An Iliad, Lisa Peterson & Denis O’Hare’s passionate play about the the telling of the epic tale and its meaning to humanity.

The Iliad is less gourmet than glutton, not celebrating or condemning war but being there completely, in triumph and in hissy-fit, in bloodlust and in parental guilt. There’s no question about whether it’s a good war — it’s not. Perhaps this is why the Trojan War resonates in a way other epics don’t, save perhaps Don Quixote, perhaps for the same reason: there is no righteousness save self-righteousness, no tragedy that is not earned through folly. It’s a very male book, and patriarchal too, a story of power and fatherhood and sonhood and brotherhood, but not a heroic one.

So I wonder, what would a matriarchal Iliad say? Continue reading


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The (Beginning of the) End of Patriarchy (Happy New Age)

After the Newtown massacre last month — yes, remember Newtown? Twenty-six dead, twenty of them children? You’d be forgiven for forgetting. Our news media certainly have, now that the dead are buried and lawmakers moved on to arguing about money again — Sorry.

After the massacre I tried to use the — is it horror, or dread, or just the sinking feeling for a parent of all that time and effort and love robbed in a moment? Maybe we don’t have the word in English yet, like schadenfreude (though from what poor bastards would we borrow it?). But if you’re a parent and very likely if you weren’t, two weeks ago Friday you knew what it meant.

Again, sorry. As you can see, it’s hard to write about. It wasn’t just the walls of emotion that were hard to scale. There really seemed nothing to say. Easy enough to blame America’s culture of guns and the nonsense of the gun-show loophole, but the Newtown killer borrowed his mom’s guns and there’s absolutely no policy prescription for that. Short of banning automatic weapons, banning them and taking them away like I would a hot poker from my three year old — except gun people are addicts to a drug that can kill others. Just try to take away their fix by force and might of law. The insane hunting of first-responders will soon seem normal, the anarchy of The Dark Knight Rises as quaint and dreamy a social vision as Flash Gordon.

And that’s what unclenched my thinking. Continue reading