Sex and the American Nazi
Ballsy. This is a product (one of a number of other such actual products in 2022 America) being hawked on television commercials for the shaving of men’s ball sacks. And the mechanism doesn’t leave a “ball smell.” Huh? “Save Your Sack from Summer.” (Whatever happened to, I don’t know, bathing?)
It’s not that I’m squeamish. A child of the 70s, I spent my youth being bombarded with ads for Massengill Disposable Douche (a useless product designed to dupe women into thinking they can simply rinse out semen to prevent pregnancy; as well as for men who fear the smell of menses) and Kotex (a very necessary product). But ads for Venus by Gillette, now showing women, quite graphically on television commercials, using a razor to shave their pubic hair (another purely cosmetic thing), is really troubling me. Oh, and Bush Balm. So I sat down to write to figure out why.
Here it is: It’s 2022 and a 10-year-old rape victim in the Midwest cannot legally obtain an abortion since the overturning of Roe v. Wade. And child marriage is back on the table. Child labor, too. See also, the other extreme: The forcing of the aged back to work and the ending of retirement thanks to “Sen.” Rick Scott (R-FL).
Note to readers: It’s gonna get really ugly now.
The end of Roe v. Wade is another “beginning of the end” situation in the U.S., sure. And the smoothest sacks and pubes in the world won’t change that. But that’s not totally what’s eating at me, not just the power over women and the hygiene distractors. There’s a larger, deeper sickness happening. The other week “Rep.” Matt Gaetz (R-FL) said that ugly women don’t have to worry about abortions. Hearing that brought up in me tears of rage—that level of open misogyny from a man accused of child rape who has yet to be indicted for it, though is wingman has taken a plea and gone to prison (and when called out on it the next day, he doubled down).
“Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz, who is under federal investigation for alleged sex trafficking of a 17-year-old girl, is under fire on social media after making fat-phobic and misogynist remarks about abortion rights activists to an audience of college students on Saturday, calling people protesting in support of abortion “disgusting.”
“’Have you watched these pro-abortion, pro-murder rallies?” the Florida congressman asked the teenagers gathered at the Turning Point USA Student Action Summit in Tampa, Florida.
“’The people are just disgusting. Why is it that the women with the least likelihood of getting pregnant are the ones most worried about having abortions? Nobody wants to impregnate you if you look like a thumb,” Gaetz commented.
“’These people are odious from the inside out. They’re like 5′ 2″, 350 pounds, and they’re like, “Give me my abortions or I’ll get up and march and protest.” And I’m thinking —march? You look like you got ankles weaker than the legal reasoning behind Roe v. Wade,’ he said to a cheering crowd.”
Speaking of insecure male U.S. Republican statesmen: Back in the spring, “Sen.” Josh “Runs with Fist” Hawley (R-MO) denounced child pornographers so vociferously and so weirdly out of context and proportion during the Judge Ketanji Brown hearings, that it caused Miss O’ to wonder when Anonymous will hack into Hawley’s home computer.
Meanwhile, Ghislaine Maxwell, a convicted sex trafficker, is moved to a cushy minimum-security prison with yoga. Because otherwise I guess she releases the names of all those powerful white, male johns.
And all of this hateful humping hubbub is from a bunch of schoolyard bullies who don’t feel “manly.” Who see everything as a threat to their “masculinity,” from balls that aren’t smooth and tan, to erections they can’t hold, to games they never understood and couldn’t play.
And it only gets creepier every day.
Poke Her with the Soft Cushions
I awoke this morning remembering a summer day when my parents repurposed the feather-stuffed cushions on my mom’s fancy sofa—this light sort of champagne brocade-upholstered sleeper in the upstairs living room of our small split-level house with no real room for romping, so that room was sort of the place to do Play-Doh and draw on the walls (which we also had to help scrub), so naturally that fancy sofa from my mom’s days as a single naval officer got ruined in pretty short order; but rather than throw out the whole thing, my parents figured they could buy those zippered pillow cases made of striped ticking and stuff them (they went on to use these pillows for probably 20 years, by the way). I was a kid, maybe 9 or 10, when they laid out old sheets in the backyard, my dad split the cushions with a knife, and they tried to figure out how to transfer the feathers—millions of teeny tiny gray feathers—into the ticking. We kids chased the feathers that flew, but impressively most of them made it into stuffing, enough for four pillows, I think.
I don’t recall my dad wondering aloud if this activity—or for that matter, diapering his babies, cooking family meals, or reading the paper—supported and even glorified his “masculinity.” I feel confident, too, that my dad, who worked six days a week, sometimes two jobs, and yet always made time to make popcorn and play with his kids, had no time for shaving his balls or worrying about their smell. He’d have to wonder about men who had that kind of time on their hands.
That feather pillow stuff was around the time my mom got into decoupage, making all kinds of projects, burning edges of paper prints, gluing and varnishing them onto prepared painted and antiqued wood plaques or stools. It was really nice. And I remember a lot of felt crafts for Halloween, too, and making Christmas ornaments (at school and at home). My dad, a meat cutter (there’s your masculinity, Tucker), got into making his own sausage (!) and used to bring casings home from work (he could buy them wholesale), and we’d do that once a month or so.
So at age 10 I remember going to a lot of local carnivals, fort-building, making a treehouse; all us trying out being tough with toy cowboy guns and holsters; Malibu Barbie vans and building blocks, and Tonka trucks in the dirt, while my parents made food for cookouts in the backyard or a Prince William National Forest; neighbors coming over. Beer and soda. Good Humor Ice Cream treats.
I don’t remember getting raped, is what I’m saying. I don’t remember people getting shot all the time, and never entire classrooms full of children. Sex, rape, semi-automatic slayings—even when reported, none of this was remotely normalized for casual conversation among our elected leaders in the 1970s. I’m not saying bad things didn’t happen. I’m aware that my white parents worked hard to make the shift from working class to middle class in America and faced fewer obstacles doing it than their black and brown counterparts; and I’m also aware that plenty of my classmates grew up in trailer parks or in otherwise reduced circumstances. I was often shocked by white porcelains toilets the bowls of which were stained brown; layers of dust on the white oak floors, grease and grime on all the surfaces in the kitchen. And you heard about things, you know; you heard yelling, you had to wonder.
A girl relative of mine, who was white, was raped at the age of 9 back in the 1960s; being prepubescent, the perpetrator had to split her with a knife to enter her. She told her mom, “A man peed in me.” The police didn’t put much effort into looking for the man, who was most certainly a white school janitor, so no one was prosecuted; her family moved instead. Girls have never been valued much, unless their victimhood could serve as an excuse to lynch a Black man or shoot someone. (Men are so emotional, you know. Is that masculine? I think it’s shit.)
So I don’t want to sound absurdly naïve. When we look at the historical Republican Party (and forget Dixie-crats, who only went Democrat to veer away from Republican Lincoln), they totally and loudly advocated for the mass murder of Black children; the mass rape and murder of Black women; the mass lynching or incarceration of Black men to use as legalized slave labor.
Lately, however, these same Republicans have upped the stakes. We now have an entire political party, on TV and in the newspapers in 2022, pushing for the normalization of child rape (er, marriage), child sex trafficking, child labor. I can’t recall an elected representative in my childhood defending child mass murder, but that’s the case now. It’s not as if I didn’t see violence on TV, but the violence was often righteous, however a news anchor framed it: Black people tired of being targets, being kept down or segregated into project housing, being kept out of power; hippies protesting the war in Viet Nam; workers striking for fair wages; women out in force demanding equal rights; gays demanding to be seen in Pride parades.
But here was a turning point: I remember when the “anti-abortion movement” started, ca. 1977 or so, and young Catholic school friends went to march on Washington, girls all, girls who’d never even been kissed. They’d cry abstractedly about unborn babies, these girls who were barely of age to babysit. I found it baffling.
And that “pro-life” movement, I’ve come to believe, moved the idea of sexualized children (and not the prosecuting of Catholic priests for the molesting of boys; because it’s never been about what they did to the girls, even though the kids I knew who were molested by their priests were girls, but girls don’t count, see), rape, incest, and the oppression of women front and center in the news, and began normalizing the fucking of children and girls and women of childbearing years as both something of prurient interest and something to punish through forced birth; while simultaneously othering the sex of consenting adults of whatever gender.
When I was 10 years old, I played with dolls, acted out my own versions of I Dream of Jeannie and The Brady Bunch; had a crush on David Cassidy; ran barefoot all summer jumping off swings; when my arms and legs got sticky it was from melting popsicles rather than a man’s semen. And I know this kind of growing up is still possible. About the best parents I know are two gay men who limit their kids’ access to television, social media, video games, and sitting around. Their kids play. I texted them to say hi and see what was up. The boy, in middle school, was devastated because his favorite frozen treat, Choco Taco, had been discontinued. (Meanwhile Greta Thunberg gave up her childhood to protest the inaction of governments to stem global heating.) If it were up to Republicans, this sweet kid wouldn’t exist at all.
Why do Republicans want our women to have no autonomy? Our kids to have no childhoods? Our citizens no vote? Our people no freedom? Why do they want America to be a hellscape of mass murder and rape; floods and wildfires? Why do Republicans mock the very real problems and those who wish to solve them? I think they are diseased. They need help. But first, like any addicts, they need to admit they have a problem. We all know that men who have to pay for sex most likely aren’t any good at it; they know nothing of love, of intimacy, of seduction. They want to “take” a woman, rape a woman, and it makes them feel “powerful.” (Matt Gaetz, an alleged predator of teen girls, seeks children, doesn’t he, because they won’t know how bad he is at sex? Do all these Republican men have to use Nazism to rule because they are really bad at leading?)
Fascists pretend and propagate their inflated, insane idea of “masculinity” because they have no idea of the work it takes to be fully human. It’s not about masculine and feminine, guys. It’s about being a connected human being. It’s about leaving eighth grade, about growing up.
It’s at times like this that I want, at the age of 58, to be able to cross my arms out in front of me, flick my head, and blink all the toxicity away. Instead, I’ll be seeing you out on the streets and at the polls. Because that’s what adults should be doing, when they aren’t, you know, too busy shaving their balls and pubes for the sex they aren’t having.