In “Common Women,” Wylie writes the following:
Meanwhile, megaloid momworship has got completely out of hand. Our land, subjectively mapped, would have more silver cords and apron strings crisscrossing it that railroads and telephone wires. Mom is everywhere and everything and damned near everybody, and from her depends all the rest of the U.S. Disguised as good old mom, dear old mom, sweet old mom, your loving mom, and so on, she is the bride at every funeral and the corpse at every wedding. Men live for her and die for her, dote upon her and whisper her name as they pass away, and I believe she has now achieved, in the hierarchy of miscellaneous articles, a spot next to the Bible and the Flag, being reckoned part of both in a way. She may therefore soon be granted by the House of Representatives the especial supreme and extraordinary right of sitting on top of both when she chooses, which, God knows, she does. . . (Wylie, 239)
Wylie is clearly trying to be funny here. Do you think that his comic tone undercuts the misogynistic implications of his description? Why or why not?
One thought on “Week 1 Day 2 Discussion Question 4”
My initial reaction to Wylie’s comedic undertone in this section was to be upset, if not disgusted, by the trivial way with which he jokes sentence after sentence about the worthiness, purpose, and place of moms in society. The comic nature of his statements act to emphasize lightheartedly what is a brash negative commentary on the figure of a mom. As someone who disagrees with the misogynistic implications in this section, the comic undertones rubbed me the wrong way. As if Wylie’s making this statement with a light air was worse then stating similar thoughts outright. So my initial reaction was almost that his comic undertones emphasized and worsened his misogynistic implications and statements.
However, as I read over this section again after the completion of the “Common Women”, I felt that it was clear to me that the use of comedy here only acts to undercut his own points with comic emphasis on real roles and impacts of mothers. Implying that “silver cords and apron strings” would be far worse a contribution to our map than railroads and wires was a misogynistic dig at the lack of importance and usefulness of what Wylie perceives to be the contributions of mothers. However, these contributions are part of the base of what pulls society together. And by his comic take on this statement, Wylie only acts to emphasize for me the importance of this one potential role of mothers. Later Wylie states “Mom is everywhere and everything and damned near everybody, and from her depends all the rest of the U.S.” I understand his intent to be the overbearing of the role of mothers, but rather see how his comic stance emphasizes the incredibly large role and impact of mothers in society. Again, I see here a way that the comedy can bring up ideas that counter Wylie’s misogynistic intent.
I feel that Wylie’s intent was to use comedy to undermine his misogynistic implications to make them more palatable, but instead some of the comic statements emphasized the misogynistic view he was taking so extremely, that they almost highlighted the positives of the mom role; contrary to his argument.