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2005.03.24

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Laura (geekymom)

There's a good post over at Raising WEG about Schiavo's parents' own idealizing their daughter. As a parent, I have to say, that yes, it's scary as hell to raise independently-minded children because they might think differently than I do. They might do things I disagree with. In doing so, they might harm themselves; they might alienate me. I still think it's the right thing to do.

Your analogy here is interesting. I feel like we're headed back to the 50s or the 1890s or something, a time when both women and children should be seen but not heard.

Rana

I still think it's the right thing to do.

And therein lies all the difference. :)

I think at the root of this is _trust_ -- trust in yourself, trust in them, trust in your values and your ability to inculcate them into the next generation. On their side: fear and distrust. On ours: hope and trust. (Not to say that we don't feel anxiety or fear, but that it is not how we define ourselves.)

I'll have to go look at that post.

Jill Smith

...we have the spectacle of politicians using the phrase "young woman" even though the body they refer to is 41 years old.

These are the same people who refer to their own pecadilloes, performed way beyond the cusp of adulthood, as "youthful indiscretions." It is one instance of perfect consistency in this topsy-turvy circus. It's not logical, mind you, just consistent.

Rana

Huh. I hadn't even thought of that! And yet, how well it fits.

You know, I'm beginning to suspect that there is, if not exactly _logic_ at work here, a certain coherency of thought; that is, they are not as random in their beliefs (or as "hypocritical") as it might be assumed.

Not that this makes this system of beliefs any less destructive and creepy.

jo(e)

Interesting analysis. I hadn't even stopped to think about the language being used.

I just put up a sign on my own bulletin board here at home that says, "If I am ever in a coma, pull out the fucking feeding tube."

My 16-year-old son came home, looked at it, and said, "But Mom, what if you are in a persistent vegetative state?"

wolfangel

Rana, I have never doubted that this isn't random or incoherent: this makes it more, not less, frightening.

Jo(e): I love your son. The answer, though, is that if you are in one of those, you want a lot of major court battles and for the president to try to get guardianship over you. But only if the president prays.

Phantom Scribbler

jo(e), if you are in one of those, the president will not try to get guardianship over you. Not unless you are in Florida, or another state that is potentially in play during upcoming elections. The president would not mind seeing three-quarters of the residents of solid blue states doing the persistent vegetative thing. Ungrateful disobedient children that we are.

wolfangel

Actually, I also wonder how this plays into the fairy tale/Belle au bois dormant mythologies.

Rana

Argh. My own blog thinks I'm spam.

What I was trying to say is that I think there are definitely some parallels (although her being married complicates things). However, I get disturbed thinking about who the prince in this story is supposed to be. Especially since the original Sleeping Beauty wasn't kissed awake, but raped and impregnated.

yami

Hey! That's brilliant! That's where we can get our next generation of soldiers - women in persistent vegetative states!

af

It also struck me that Terri Schiavo is the ideal patient. So many people who care for their aging/ill parents or other relatives have to deal with the fact that the patient fears them, is angry with them, complains to them about the food, their treatment, the fact that they don't visit, the pain they are in, etc. I don't want to suggest that this situation in any way makes it easy to see a loved one in a PVS - I'm sure it's horrible - but it's a very different type of situation than what many people face.

larkspur

The "perfect child" aspect is real important. Among other things, I suspect it covers a lot of rage. I mean, this person was an independent young woman who got married and left home, and had sex, and didn't require her parents' direction every day...and worse, she may have had significant emotional problems (as evidenced by the bulimia), and if she'd been a really *good* daughter, most of that stuff wouldn't have happened. They'd have their good girl, and no one at all could even suggest that the Schindlers were anything less than perfect parents.

Of course, over the years, this has required them to demonize their daughter's husband, but they seem to have been peculiarly willing to do that. Now their daughter is a good girl. And there's a vocal group that's delighted to support the parents in this weird alternate universe.

pericat

Most insightful. Good job, Rana.

Lisa

Do you know why Mrs. Schiavo was in a "persistent vegetative state"? Because she was bulimic -- extreme enough to cause a massive heart attack at age 25. Doesn't this change everything?

Rana

yami -- that is a frightening thought!

af -- yes. It also occurs to me that there are parallels with Munschausen by Proxy syndrome. All the attention can focus on the devoted family; the patient serves as the means to that end.

larkspur -- I hadn't thought about the demonization of Michael Schiavo. It does make sense; they can project all their fears and anger about their daughter's "rebellion" onto the man who "stole" her. That he keeps trying to free her from their care must disturb them even more.

pericat -- thanks! :)

Lisa -- apparently not. I suspect, in a sick and twisted way, that some of her "supporters" view her collapse and brain death as both punishment for being willful and salvation. The rhetoric around her is not only similar to that used regarding fetuses, it's similar to that used to describe saints, particularly her being in a different state than other people, and the clear connections to ideas about an uncorrupted corpse as a sign of divinity.

If nothing else, this woman's body functions as the ultimate tabula rasa.

Harrison

You know -- the reminds me about something I once wrote about Swift's scatological poetry. There is this weird fascination there; the female body is laid out for adoration, but the shock, the disgusting remainder, appears as the specter of female subjectivity.

Rana

Huh. I hadn't thought about the "female body as spectacle" angle. I guess that's partly because I find it hard to think of Theresa Schiavo in explicitly gendered terms. (That is, I recognize that her body is female, but since there's no person there for me, that body lacks gender.) But, yes, I think there's something in what you say; "she" makes the perfect subject, in that she can't return or challenge the gaze of those who look at her. (Quite literally!)

Hmm. That makes the situation even more creepy, now that I think about it.

Cleis

Rana,

This is a wonderful post, much deserving of the spike in hits you've received. If it weren't for a handful of people writing on their blogs, we would hear nothing about the feminist implications of this case - and those implications are important, wide-ranging, and deserving of a place in public discourse. I'm really thankful that you wrote this.

Rana

Aw, thanks. :)

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