Suffer No Illusions


agrarian populism.jpg

Last Friday we laid Uncle Conrad to rest at Artichoke Lake, Minnesota-- a beautiful, lonely resting ground out on the prairie. Forty-five years ago there was still a general store at Artichoke and the name of the town appears on most Minnesota maps. But no people live there now.

The message at the funeral created a buzz around Big Stone County, in part because of the length, but mostly because of the content. The preacher, Brother Jobe, came straight out of the distant past or perhaps the not so distant future. He flew in from Pennsylvania (note--he wasn’t native to this place) and was presented the honor of giving the funeral message.

Brother Jobe’s message was old-timey, riveting, and delivered with the best oratorical skills I’ve ever experienced. I was rapt at his words and gestures. Brother Jobe called for the complete subjugation of women in business, church, government, and home. He called for the uplifting of men. The 80 and 90 year old women in front of me squirmed in their seats.

Out here on the prairie they suffer no illusions about women. Uncle Daniel said- with an economy of words that I lack- this land would not have been settled without pioneer women. Leadership, fortitude, grit, strength- was called for from every pioneer—man or woman. Men and women had different work- but every effort was needed and valued- a partnership for survival.

When a First Lady at the turn of the 20th century began a national campaign to eliminate girls athletics in high schools, rural Minnesota was among the very last to abolish women’s basketball. My grandma- who would have been 100- played basketball in high school. Why was rural Minnesota the last to ban women’s sports? Because those immigrants who settled this harsh prairie had no illusions about the frailty of women.


It seems these keystone rituals push people to gender absolutes. When my nephew was married in KY last month, his wife insisted her vows include submission and obedience. We were shocked: does she know what she is in for? It was all we could do to keep the assembled aunts from storming out of the sanctuary in protest!

Interesting Dan about rituals and gender absolutes. I have a growing concern about the role of women in a resource scarce future. In fact, I'm making a powerpoint presentation about it ;-)

All the post-collapse fiction, including by leading feminists, paints a portrait of subjegated, even abused, women. I'm hoping we can find ways to innoculate our society from that kind of a future. Even some of the blogs I read dealing with resources have an undertone of what the future could be like. Some men see peak oil as their chance to regain their rightful place in charge of the world and in command of women.

Well-- that's a little darker than I like to get on this blog...

Have a great day!

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This page contains a single entry by Kathryn Draeger published on July 22, 2008 12:48 PM.

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