Any search string that leads to Molly Ivins is a good search string

Sometimes following links that turn up in sitemeter is a joy rather than the usual ennui of seeing how many pervs are finding a link to this blog in a search engine. I like to think the pervs get a jolt when they don’t find what they expect, but maybe they get off on feminist analysis of upskirting, who knows?

This morning I followed a particular sitemeter referral link because I was curious regarding other pages the searcher might have found as they examined the results for why are some many feminists against wearing high heels, and where whatever Hoyden post came in those results. I don’t know where Hoyden ranked, because on the second page I found a page with the title “Molly Ivins”, and I didn’t go any further.

Molly Ivins, Texas hellraising op-ed columnist, died last week of recurring cancer. Without my online friends in the States I would never have heard of her until I started reading American lefty blogs where she is a staple kickarse icon, but luckily for me I have been reading her columns intermittently for about six years now. In Australian terms, she was a classic larrikin stirrer, and thus either loved or hated by the usual suspects.

Ivins had no patience for equivocation, dissembling or fallacious logic of any kind, delighting in holding such samples up to the spotlight and shaking them hard so that the hollow rattle could be heard by all. A typical Ivins column demanded a heartfelt “Hell, Yeah!” every paragraph, often every sentence. It is a sad reflection of the trivial appreciation of those who cast a giant cultural shadow that an atypically trite aside in one of her columns spanking then-gubernatorial candidate George W. Bush is the Ivins coinage in widest general use: the nickname “Shrub”. Although in one way it is utterly appropriate, as her special gift was aphorisms so apt that their targets feel the sting forever.

For instance, anti-feminist shill Camille Paglia schtick of straw-feminist hatchet jobs has never been epitomised better than this statement in the Ivins article I found through that sitemeter link (originally published in Mother Jones in 1991, when Paglia was just beginning to make waves):

Never one to dodge a simple dichotomy when she can set one up

That also sums up most strawfeminist arguments in a nutshell, including those about whether high-heels (lipstick, heterosexual relationships, reproduction) pass some sort of feminist purity test. Life is nuanced, not black and white, but so much public and especially political discourse tries to push forward two caricatures of the extremes of a spectrum of opinion and say “It’s one or the other. Choose!” . Molly Ivins was all about not letting that shit get through to the keeper, no matter whose ox was getting gored.

There are many many obituaries online for this remarkable woman. The NYT, where she once worked, primly mentions that the name of the dog she used to bring into the office was a profanity and leaves the readers hanging. I am kinder, so I will tell you that the dog’s name was Shitface (because she was clumsy and kept falling down like she was drunk) which was usually abbreviated to Shit, which name was bellowed enthusiastically by Ivins whenever the dog needed calling, no matter where she was.

How could you not love that?



Categories: Culture, gender & feminism

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4 replies

  1. I saw a marvellous (but sad) documentary on SBS last night about Madalyn O’Hair, who seemed to have the same sense of irreverence, strength and dissonance that is so rare in the USA. Thanks for this!

  2. O’Hair had her moments undoubtedly, although I have mixed feelings regarding her. She was counterproductive more often than not: the way she relished being “The Most Hated Woman in America” helped hold back acceptance of atheism as a valid philosophy.
    Molly Ivins had much less sense of self-importance. She was a critic, not an ideologue.

  3. I’m sure she was counter-productive, and I can see your point; I guess I admired (from the little I saw last night) her fearlessness and ability to speak out against the dominant paradigm — rare among all Americans, let along American women.

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