GENDER STEROTYPES – Kjerringa mot strømmen


There is a story told in various forms across northern Europe that involves a contrary old woman. The form I am (vaguely) familiar with is the Norwegian version, Kjerringa mot strømmen – The Old Woman (no good English equivalent for the Norwegian term) Against the Stream. In this version there is an old couple on their way somewhere and they fall to squabbling over whether their field should be “clipped’ or “shorn” – not clear on the difference – and one way or the other the old woman ends up in the river. So the old man goes downriver to find her to give her a proper burial, can’t find her, concludes a contrary old woman like her would be far upstream by now, and he finds her up above the rapids.

The story has been seen as a proto-feminist parable. The idea is that the individualistic old woman resisted social norms, and the core of those social norms were her restrictive female gender role.

Time roles on and the struggle continues, but now the villain looks different. The monster’s old mask was societal male domination that a kjerring would bravely rebel against, but now that mask is being torn off and the monster’s real face is being exposed. The monster is the traditional female role that these kjerringer see victimizing men and women in complementary and inter-supporting ways.

What is that traditional female role modern-day kjerringer are rebelling against? It basically comes down to hypoagency and feeding off of men’s agency, objectifying men into instruments of whatever is good for women.

Aspects of this are:

The Romance Narrative: In the West the Romance Narrative is a reflex of courtly love as it was popularized in the Middle Ages and has since then permeated the entire culture, from the elites down to us humble folk.In this memeplex the man is eternally on bended knee offering serivce to his Lady, who sits in passive glory far above the trammels of earthly existence. She is pure, he is dross; she is spiritual, he is animal; she is selfless; he is a predator; she is wise; he is thick-witted and insensitive and all his worth is derived from her approval. Oh, and he’s a naughty little boy too, and it’s her job to civilize him.

Measuring of Men: Women have always measured men as possible mates against various external criteria, just as men have women. Those criteria might be birth, might be wealth, might be breast size, success in war – whatever. In the past few generations those criteria have either become irrelevant or have been demonized, so what remains is a vague list of criteria derived from romantic fantasies, see above.

Here is an example of this thinking, a checklist of metrics to measure a man by to decide if you still find the relationship beneficial or if it’s time to trade up, a consumerist objectification of men verging on sociopathy.

There is one other aspect of this that remains, the old Moral Guardian role.This role was active not only in the White Feather Campaign – note how no men were out handing out these white feathers because they would have been beaten down – but also it has always been the preferred approach taken by feminists in gender discussion. The suffragettes made the issue of voting rights a moral issue and 2nd Wavers did the same thing with their pig-shaming language later on. The issue always is how are men oppressing women and what can men do to redeem themsleves to women – stop rape, stop rape jokes, stop keeping women and girls out of men and boys’ spaces, stop FGM, stop, stop.

Men Exist to Serve Women: The first question in any discussion of gender must be what is best for women. Any discussion of parenting must defer to the wisdom of mothers as the natural nurturers and any discussion of what is best for children really comes down to what is best for mothers because after all children are just extensions of their egos. (This is the kind of narcissistic perversion you can expect in a consumer culture.)

Engagement rings? A sign of ownership of women by men, not an exaction of expensive jewelry by women from men. Valentine’s Day and all that attendant expense? Oh there’s nothing wrong with that, women actually like that and it doesn’t make them feel objectfied or anything. Stay At Home dads? That’s a good thing because it frees women to work outside the home. Not one of these points is inaccurate or invalid, but they are all gynocentric. Everything must be assessed from the perspective of how a woman benefits from it because after all that is the only measure that matters.

So why does any woman rebel against this sweet deal? And by rebelling, I don’t mean the false rebellion of the spoiled brat who talks her parents down, i.e. she denounces the patriarchy, and then sits back and lives on their money and counts on their protection if the cops find out what she’s really been doing all this time to impress her friends. I mean women who reject all this for the golden cage it is but more than that, they reject it because they are not sociopaths and it sickens them to see men treated this way.

They are wives of husbands they truly love (as opposed to moaning about tot ehir friendsand toelrating as co-breadwinners). They are mothers of sons who are angry about they way way their sons are vilified and considered suspect or ignored in school and horrified at their lack of equality before the law if they are accused of a whole range of crimes that their female peers soemhow never get accused of. They are grandmothers of children whose mothers keep them away from their fathers and families.

These women are not traitors to women, they are the salvation of women, despite the howling derision, threats and vilification they endure from other women. They are what feminists claim to be and sometimes are – gender egalitarians. And that means swimming hard against some very strong and icy currents. They have the whole force of the “Patriarchy” and the traditional gender roles it prescribes, against them

Jim Doyle
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<span class="dsq-postid" data-dsqidentifier="3725">7 comments</span>

  • See for a number of variants of that story from around Europe and also from Russia and Pakistan.

    Basically the the woman was wrong and the man killed her for not backing down, but at least he was able to provide her a christian grave when he correctly deduced that such a contrary wife would float upstream rather than downstream when drowned.

    Simply said the difference between clipper or shorn (clip or shear) is that for the first one one uses scissors, or farm equipment using a scissor like mechanism while for the other one one uses a sickle (or the larger scythe) – the latter being the most common way to harvest (reap) in pre-industrial times before the advent of combines and silage cutters.

  • Thanks, Tamen; I thought the difference was somewhere along those lines. That means this variant has been updated to fit a time when people had that kind of mowing equipment.

  • “And that means swimming hard against some very strong and icy currents. They have the whole force of the “Patriarchy” and the traditional gender roles it prescribes, against them.”

    And by “Patriarchy” I assume you mean that ethereal, insubstantial spector who exists only in the mind of the feminist and is her creation. Traditional gender roles were not prescribed by any such ghost, but by a society formed by the cooperation of men and women in which the times dictated what those roles would be inconjunction with environmental conditions. “Patriarchy” as defined by feminists has never existed and the word was chosen in order to advance the feminst victim narrative which robs women of agency and defines them as oppressed victims of men. If modern-day kerringer are rebelling against this, then it isn’t likely they would use such terminology to describe the current they are swimming against. and neither would I.

    • “And by “Patriarchy” I assume you mean that ethereal, insubstantial spector who exists only in the mind of the feminist and is her creation.”

      Yes. Thus the quotes.

      Those gender roles were formed under conditions that no longer apply. Among other things those conditions imposed a requirement for having someone working full time in the home for things that have all become available in the marketplace, making that role redundant. That roel is now as outmoded as the subsistence farmer role or the hunter-gatherer roles. There is no reason for the set-aside for child-rearing to pertain primarily to women, and as for the pregnancy set-aside, I have a pretty much march-or-die attitude to that one too.

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