Tuesday, October 18, 2011

"An Old Misogynist" by Dana Goodyear

In issue 6 of Canteen, there is a portion dedicated to poems by Dana Goodyear. This one caught my eye because, first and foremost, I had no idea what the word misogynist meant. I looked it up and then realized I actually had heard the word before and would have know its meaning had it been in a sentence. But anyway, it essentially means someone who dislakes, mistreats or hates women.
This poem is from the first person point of view and the first line is "I could have argued with him," and goes on to talk about how instead the narrator watched a bulldog with a "dirty muzzle" and "furious yellow-green eye" eat grass and not make noise doing so, until a "disembodied hand pulled it back in line."
Presumably, the narrator is a woman who is choosing not to fight with her husband who treats her poorly. She relates to the bulldog - a notoriously tough animal - in that, she has the means to fight but does not. Like the bulldog who is "pulled back in line," this woman is a victim of being "pulled back in line" herself, by her misogynist husband.
-Julie Kelly


amra said...

Well, I am very glad you know what that word means now!

Popped said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Popped said...

Conflicting feelings about your last paragraph. I'm far more inclined to believe that the woman relates to the dog in that it's being pulled back on its leash than I am to believe that the woman is choosing not to get involved in the argument because she is tough like a bulldog. If anything, she's probably not choosing to argue because she'll just get verbally beaten back. I'd like to point to the details you picked out about the dirty nose, the eating grass, and the quietness. Also, this may be reading too much into it, but pure bulldogs are incredibly inbred. They actually have trouble breathing because they've been so shaped by humans. Similarly, women struggle to be everything they aspire to because of thousands of years of shaping by society, which has most often been run by men. If men argue that we're not fit to do the jobs they do, well, if it's at all true than it's probably because we've spent so long being put in the same place and we just don't get the same opportunities.

To whoever left the comment before me, women end up with men like that because there are so few men--and, honestly, women--that aren't. We've all been socialized from such a young way to expect certain behavior of women. We may not all be misogynistic, but there are definitely major pressures not to behave differently, and those pressures can be a lot harsher than we realize. My parents did what they could to encourage me to enjoy science, but the whole world was pressuring me to be a cute little girl interested in mermaids. It's even worse for guys. I had a professor go off on a rant in class because a friend had let her son paint his fingernails when he saw her doing it. That boy was probably teased mercilessly the next day by his friends because *boys aren't supposed to wear nail polish.*

Okay, need to get off the soapbox, this comment's long enough already.

--Sarah Lawrence

Popped said...

Ouch. You paint a depressing picture of a woman comparing herself to her husband's dog. It makes me think of how in weddings the woman is supposed to promise to "love, support, and obey" her husband. I'm curious to know if the narrator ever indicates why she didn't argue with the unnamed "him." In another context that could be the first line of a piece about picking your battles, but I get the sense that that isn't the case here.

This is probably material for a psych class, but I wonder why women end up with men like that at all. If they treat you so poorly how do you start a relationship with them or why do you stay in it?