You know how sometimes you don’t like something, but you don’t really have a good reason, and then a good reason presents itself and you’re so relieved because when it comes up in conversation you can bellow “SEE! It’s awful!” instead of whimpering “I just don’t, God.” (See, for example, the well-known battles “Chris vs. Mangoes” and “Chris vs. Radiohead.”) People would send me articles from trendy feminist website Jezebel to read and they’d be funny or interesting, but something about the website I just didn’t like. I think a lot of it is that “Jezebel” implies someone rebellious, and the overall tone of the website strikes me as – follow me here – being that of people who think they’re rebellious and unconventional, but aren’t. When I lived in Austin, I had these friends who were a couple, and they spent years talking about how they were going to Argentina, and as time went on they kept going to couples’ counseling and renting all-beige furnished apartments and giving me condescending advice about my job hunt… but they were going to Argentina! Just watch them! Jezebel seems to have a number of writers who have envelopes on their desks labeled “ARGENTINA FUND” that contain a couple of expired scratch-off lottery tickets redeemable for another scratch-off lottery ticket of equal price. It reminds me of the girl I knew in college who started a feminist theatre company to “explode gender conventions,” but kept having nervous breakdowns when men didn’t call her back. I just don’t think having a not-particularly-radical-feminist blog is rebellious – and I think if the actual, factual, Biblical Queen Jezebel looked down (or up) and saw what her name had been appended to, she’d have a hissy fit. She was too busy hoarding treasure, wreaking sexual havoc, and worshipping pagan gods to worry about if American Apparel is anti-feminist or not. Jezebel should really be called Meredith Vieira. Jezebel also does that thing trend-liberals do where they claim to be all about equality but consistently talk shit about the South, which is tiresome. If they post a story about something that happens in New York, that guy is an asshole, but if it happens in Georgia, it’s you know how they are down there. Also, the commenters call each other “Jezzies,” which….
So Jezebel unsettled me because of its faux-rebellious vibe, but the other day I got my reason to yell “See!”
Jezebel presented, under the title “An Insane Email from the World’s Worst Mother-in-Law,” this “probably true” viral email sent by a prospective step-mother-in-law to her stepson’s fiancée. Granted, the tone is haughty, but what the Jezebettes didn’t catch was that Heidi, the daughter-in-law, is probably completely intolerable. Below, the email, and my comments in italics:
“‘It is high time someone explained to you about good manners. Yours are obvious by their absence and I feel sorry for you.
This is bitchy, but keep reading.
Unfortunately for Freddie, he has fallen in love with you and Freddie being Freddie, I gather it is not easy to reason with him or yet encourage him to consider how he might be able to help you. It may just be possible to get through to you though. I do hope so.
An adult man who still goes by “Freddie” may be beyond help.
If you want to be accepted by the wider Bourne family I suggest you take some guidance from experts with utmost haste. There are plenty of finishing schools around.
Please, for your own good, for Freddie's sake and for your future involvement with the Bourne family, do something as soon as possible.
Here are a few examples of your lack of manners:
When you are a guest in another's house, you do not declare what you will and will not eat – unless you are positively allergic to something. You do not remark that you do not have enough food. You do not start before everyone else. You do not take additional helpings without being invited to by your host.
No, you don’t! Food manners are the most basic manners of all. Can’t you just see this girl: “Oh, I HATE cabbage. I’m STILL hungry. I’ll go first! Is there any left?” I imagine she flossed at the table.
When a guest in another's house, you do not lie in bed until late morning in households that rise early – you fall in line with house norms.
Okay, here I disagree slightly with the writer because people just do have different internal clocks and I’ve always had trouble rising early: that said, it is rude to loll around as late as you please when people are waiting for you.
You should never ever insult the family you are about to join at any time and most definitely not in public. I gather you passed this off as a joke but the reaction in the pub was one of shock, not laughter.
Are you fucking kidding me? You should TRY to positively impress your husband-to-be’s family, and to insult a family you are a GUEST of?! I bet this gal didn’t even flush her own mess.
You should have hand-written a card to me. You have never written to thank me when you have stayed.
Always. Thank. Your hosts.
You regularly draw attention to yourself. Perhaps you should ask yourself why.
I bet you this is a polite way of saying she gets drunk and sings “I’m Your Venus” with dirtier lyrics.
No one gets married in a castle unless they own it. It is brash, celebrity style behaviour.
Even if you do own it…
I understand your parents are unable to contribute very much towards the cost of your wedding. (There is nothing wrong with that except that convention is such that one might presume they would have saved over the years for their daughters' marriages.)
If this is the case, it would be most ladylike and gracious to lower your sights and have a modest wedding as befits both your incomes.
She can’t pay for it, but she wants a castle? Unfuckingbelievable.
One could be accused of thinking that Heidi Withers must be patting herself on the back for having caught a most eligible young man. I pity Freddie.’
I don’t. He deserves what he gets for choosing this harridan.
The Jezebel writer adds:
“And Bourne isn't the only one who was troubled by Withers' behavior. Elsewhere the email notes that Bomber, the family dog, was left 'profoundly upset, depressed and anxious' by her visit.”
Call me old-fashioned, but dogs are members of the family. Be nice to the dog.
So, we can argue about the propriety of this email, but it’s not insane. Jezebel is coming out on the side of terrible, atrocious, appalling, God-awful manners – “We’re so rebellious, we wipe our hands on the tablecloth!”
To be fair, most of the comments on this post were a discussion of thank-you notes, with most commenters in favor of sending them, so there’s hope, but still. I can’t help but think a real feminist would side against Heidi Withers for making women look bad – she’s apparently spoiled, unpleasant, and wants to be given a wedding in a castle. She’s probably not a Jezebel, but I bet she’s a bitch.
On the topic of feminists-who-aren’t, by the way, I recommend the documentary Sex: The Annabel Chong Story. Annabel Chong is now a trivia question, but she was briefly famous in the nineties for having sex with 251 men in a single day and igniting the “World’s Biggest Gangbang” porn craze. She tries to position herself as a feminist reclaiming promiscuity as a valid female choice, but fails and comes across as a garden-variety lunatic who had one marketable idea. I won’t tell you the whole story, but watch it. In the special features, she mentions that she is now making a documentary about being in a documentary.