So Much For All Your High-Brow Marxist Ways
Fandom: Desperate Housewives
Distribution: lists, standing orders, others by permission.
Disclaimer: Marc Cherry, ABC, et cetera. This is fan-produced and claims no copyright.
You want to know how someone like me ends up at a major non-violent urban protest in combat boots and wearing bruises from the last three protests, officer? Really? Well, we’ve got time as we walk, so I might as well tell you.
Start here: lose your husband for a while thanks to a penchant for sadomasochistic sex. Add eighteen years off the job market, two teenage children, a heart attack (your philandering husband’s, not yours), a mistress (also your husband’s), and too much tragedy to make violence an option.
Recoup your middle age without getting arrested.
You look like a nice young man, officer, but I don’t know that you could do it. There aren’t as many permissible channels as one might think in our society. I tried dating, and discovered I still had feelings for Rex…my husband, obviously…so then I tried social activism.
I didn’t mean to end up in controversial spaces, but there are limits to what a woman can achieve in normal ones when her talents outrun the abilities of the men around her to fathom them.
Take my involvement in the upper echelons in the NRA for instance. That ended badly when a large number of young white southern men believed my dear friend Gabrielle, who was living with me at the time, was my lover. Gabrielle didn’t help matters by telling everyone who would listen that she adored me for what I did for her, and that she’d gladly go down on her knees in gratitude.
Now, I don’t think it’s particularly brave to tell a cowardly man who tries to gain control by switching birth control pills around where to go while using your properly licensed firearm. But Gabrielle was grateful, and I felt I’d done the right thing, as I suppose even those young men would have if they weren’t too busy imagining plastic lesbian sex for their pleasure.
What is it with men and queer sex? I’m not a lesbian. I’m not even bi-curious. I am not obsessed with having sex with another woman. It does not haunt my nightmares that I might have sex with a woman, or that someone at the supermarket would mistake me for a lesbian. You look rather baffled, officer. I’m baffled most of the time by the tics of men, myself.
Anyhow, my hopes with the NRA were dashed in one glorious conflagration, and Gabrielle was rather embarrassed. Of course, this is where Edie Britt comes in…do you know Edie? She has a wider circle of acquaintance…no? Of course, I don’t mean to babble. Edie thought, being Edie, that I might do well in sex work. She didn’t call it sex work, of course, because there’s a certain crude element when it comes to Edie, but I got her point and told her where to put it.
But I went to the class she suggested anyway, as apparently stripper dance classes are all the rage and great for your abs, and the very thought of their mother doing such a thing unsettled the children and Rex, and I was not about to be stifled by the domestic. It turned out to be a wonderful experience, because that was where I met the young woman on stage.
Yes, I see you’re aware of Kara Pratt, officer. I hope the police didn’t rough her up too much this time.
Kara was unstinting in telling us, in between gyrations of course, that feminism was dead, and that it was our fault. Most of the class took offense to that because they weren’t feminists. I took offense because I never bristled at the word feminist.
“Okay, Bree,” she said after class, sucking down an entire bottle of water with no grace at all. “So why does it still suck more to be a woman? I mean, sure, a class of white bourgie women get to witter stupidly about domestic space, so we’re all cured? Your generation got some cash and betrayed the sisterhood. Face it, that’s the facts.”
“Face this,” I said. “You, Miss Pratt, take a great deal of sanctimonious joy in informing me I’ve betrayed the sisterhood while you teach women the way to nirvana is self-exploitation while you drop more product names than the average episode of American Idol. What feminist ideal are you upholding?”
“The right of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” she said glibly.
“Consumerism is not freedom,” I replied just as glibly, and that’s when we became friends. She grinned, finished sucking down the rest of the water, and shrugged.
“So there’s more to you than the empty urge to fill a hole that nobody asked you to fill,” said Kara. “Want to go get an espresso and talk feminism?”
“I’d love to,” I said crisply.
We spent a lot of time talking, which soon became a lot of time planning this very event, officer. Well, the first of these events, which was a small-scale local event held in honor of my dear friend Mary Alice and others who were haunted by the specter of violence against women. Like most good ideas with a political bent, it gained momentum from there.
I found myself reading books I hadn’t picked up in twenty years, and books I’d been promising to read in ten, and new books that I hadn’t even known existed from five years ago.
“Listen to this,” I told Rex, pacing upstairs after a particularly heated meeting with our group of plotters and planners. “In the essential movement of the spectacle, which consists of taking up all that existed in human activity in a fluid state so as to possess it in a congealed state as things which have become the exclusive value by their formulation in negative of lived value, we recognize our old enemy, the commodity, who knows so well how to seem at first glance something trivial and obvious, while on the contrary it is so complex and so full of metaphysical subtleties.”
Rex looked at me. “Yes?”
“Wouldn’t that speak to you about the dangers of commodity fetishism?” I asked, enjoying the way Rex squirmed at the word fetish. Even though I loved him deeply, and still do, there is something to be said to never letting one’s husband take you for granted.
“If I knew why commodity fetishism was dangerous, maybe,” he said, kissing the side of my neck.
We had extremely good sex that night, despite the anxious squirming and muddled politics. In fact, our sex life, after serious counseling and Kara, took a marked turned for the better once Rex learned to respect boundaries and I learned that I enjoyed a good argument with a smart woman and had plenty of justification for the things my family complained about so often.
You know, I’m coming along and I’ve waived my right to remain silent, officer. You don’t need to be so impatient. Kindness and politeness cost nothing.
I suppose planning a protest in favor of abortion in the middle of town was asking for trouble, but we obtained the permits. Kara is occasionally very hot-headed, as that speech just demonstrated, but she hasn’t broken any laws. Neither, I would say, have I, but that’s my interpretation of the First Amendment, which I’m sure the ACLU will agree with.
No need to look upset, officer. The ACLU is a fine organization with an excellent track record in defending the American right to free speech; they even defended Sean Hannity against liberals in Santa Barbara, even though he was rather ungrateful to them afterwards.
Oh, you mean you think I’m threatening you? No, sir, I am not. I was just mentioning that the right to this protest, a protest duly permitted by this township, is legal. I’m as distressed at the violence that’s broken out as anyone, but shouldn’t you be going after the young man over there who’s kicking a woman half his size rather than a mother of two?
I am *not* trying to manipulate you, officer. If you’re feeling anything, it’s your conscience, trying to speak to you. Letting angry, frightened people who fear change because they think it’ll take away the tiniest bit of power they have over the so-called weaker sex? Is wrong. We both know it, and we both know arresting me is merely a media stunt.
Pass on the stunt, the media attention, and the pettiness of law and order in this city. Help the girl and prove that you’re worth the title of man. Start here and see where you end up.
Perhaps the journey will be as eventful as mine’s been so far, though I wouldn’t recommend becoming a borderline revolutionary for social justice if I were you, officer. You seem like a nice young man, and revolutionaries need to know how to shoot straight, wear combat boots, and get used to police action.
It’s worth it, though, to do the thing right. So you do what you have to, and I’ll do what I can. It’s what I…and anyone worth the time it takes to club them…do best.