Monday, December 04, 2006

It's a Jung-le Out There

...from The Dream by Henri Rousseau, the Douanier.

Last evening I got another of those rude and peculiar emails, its tirade against the hypocrisy and ignorance of women animated, it seems, by my innocuous post yesterday about - skunks.
Something set a rocket up his yin-yang in any event and he sprayed.
Certainly my correspondent displayed a degree of animus that would have pleased Carl Gustav to no end.
Let us construe.
The dispatch opened with the observation that women are offended by, or afraid of, skunks, snakes, rodents and insects.
The use of gender stereotype as premise is, of course, suspect.
Skunks are nice and useful little creatures - unless they are rabid.
Their prime defense is their ability to produce a pervasive air-borne compound which is highly irrating, if not incapacitating, to the eyes and nasal passages of a broad range of beasts. Not just the females of any species.
Don't try to tell me that men like the smell of skunk.
The fear of snakes seems also to permeate the human collective unconscious. Again, quite irrespective of sex.
Historically, women have been the chief, though not the exclusive, guardians of the larder, and the storage and preparation of food stuffs. Rodents and insects are among the chief enemies of food preservation and the survival of the unit.
The female reaction is based on a profound survival instinct, and should not be posited as a weakness and dismissed as merely a superficial distaste. be continued.


kmfrontain said...

My husband can't stand skunks. Notices the stink before I do. And I'll grab a snake as fast as I see one (none poisonous where I live). I love looking up close at snakes. Even got bit once (again, none poisonous where I live).

Odd email, Bernita. The things people get upset about.

anna said...

love the Rousseau!
as for skunks and snakes and rodents, after a long and heated debate this morning with my peculiar other I can only conclude he is one of the three. there now.

Ric said...

Must be the full moon - any and all manner of strange missives and equally bizarre reactions clogging up the blogosphere and spilling over into our everyday lives.

Pull the drapes, lock the larder, this too shall pass.

Carla said...


Bernita said...

I don't dislike skunks but I'm fully affected by the smell, Karen. Don't care for snakes, but am willing to live and let live. I never scream at mice or spiders.
Very odd email.

Anna, I'm trying very hard not to laugh...

But why me, Ric?

Gets weirder, Carla.

December Quinn said...

That is odd. Imagine getting angry about that.

Are you sure it wasn't your terrible neighbor? :-)

Sela Carsen said...

I don't like skunks. They stink.

I'm not crazy about snakes. They bite. Even the non-poisonous ones.

I don't like spiders, either, but that's because of a baseless and completely irrational fear that they're going to bite me on the toe and nest in my hair.

But I don't think it's because I'm a gurrrl.

Dave said...

I laughed and started plotting how to do it to one of my neighbors.

Tell the complainer to take a tranquilizer and calm down.

BTW - those hunting stores (Dunham, Cabela, etc...) all carry a skunk odor treatment safe for people, dogs, front porches, the undersides of cars.

EA Monroe said...

I have a spider named Zack that lives in my bathroom. Come to think of it, I call every spider Zack. I was wondering the same thing as December -- it was your obnoxious neighbor. I can't wait to read the rest of your to be continued. I still catch whiffs of Pepi mixed with the aromas of Christmas.

Bernita said...

No, December, not the neighbour - who is long gone. We have nice neighbours now.

Don't think it has anything to do with one being a "gurrl," Sela!

Natural opportunities are so serendipidous, Dave!

Dave's suggestions might help, Liz.
More tomorrow.

Steve said...

I'm witing for the continuation.

MissWrite said...

That's hysterical that you received such an email based on yesterday's post. True, I didn't get the chance to come back and read comments after what I posted, but up until then I didn't see much that said anything about being afraid of a skunk. Not wanting to get sprayed and smell like rotten eggs for days does not equate with being afraid of the little beasties themselves.

Skunks are (except as pointed out by your enthusiastic emailer when rabid) not dangerous themselves at all.

But that smell, whew, well, not many of us even have to actually smell it to be able to conjur up the memories of the pungent aroma.

Rick said...

There's nothing sex-specific about not liking the aroma of eau de skunque. My wife's sense of smell is more sensitive than mine, but I can smell a dead skunk on US 101 perfectly well.

(A slightly sad fact I noted in my pre-exurban-traffic cycling days: when a dead skunk turned up on a stretch of road, another dead skunk often appeared a day or two later. The first one's mate? I've no idea.)

Back to the point, until fairly recently girls were taught socially that acting offended or afraid of rats, snakes, spiders, and the like was appropriate behavior (even "cute"), whereas boys learned that it was unmanly to be easily grossed out.

This is doubtless changing, but our culture is still pretty gender-specific about "gross." I can't imagine that teenage girls even today often engage in competitive farting or belching, as teenage boys notoriously do. This social training about grossness must still influence reactions toward creepy-crawlies, slitheries, and the like.

Bonnie Calhoun said...

Boy, I don't know how you prompt all those good emails. Nobody ever sends me nastigrams *sigh*!

The best part is that I can't see one offensive word in the whole post that would prompt such an anal retentive response!

People need to get a life!

The skunk story is great, and it reminds me of a true occassion with my husband and a baby skunk...I think I'll write up a post about it for tomorrow!

Gabriele C. said...

I love snakes, they're fascinating creatures. And while I don't want rats and mice in my granaries, I'm not afraid of them.

Spiders, now .... Let's say I never watched the Shelob episode on my LOTR DVDs.

Bernita said...

It gets...weirder, Steve.

Exactly, Tami!
I for one though I expressed rather warm and grateful thoughts about the little fellows.

Certainly there was social conditioning, Rick ( against which I rebelled) but I begin to wonder how much of that seeming silliness might be based on a truly atavistic horror of a goodwife finding her storerooms invaded.I remember my mother having a perfect fit when she found weevils in her flour.

Well, they are certainly
interesting emails, Bonnie!
Nither can I, but apparently it/they set off a train of association.

Bernita said...

Don't think anyone expressed fear, Gabriele.

Erik Ivan James said...

Skunks smell better than some people.
Rodents are usually smaller than me.
I kill snakes...hate them.

Bonnie Calhoun said...

Wow...I bow to your ability to rouse the rabbled masses.

Teach me! Teach me how to take innocuous phrases and incite!!! Mwhahahaha!

Bernita said...

"Skunks smell better than some people..."
Unless you're speaking metaphorically, Erik, I don't want to know...

"... rouse the rabbled masses."
Bonnie, that is an entirely steal-worthy line!
I didn't do nothin'...

Robyn said...

Maybe it was his skunk you shot with the water gun. Or maybe he secretly hates these things but his mother made hime do all the pest control at his house, who knows?

EA Monroe said...

Didn't meant to raise a Big Stink, but it's starting to smell around here! Ha! Just kidding!

Our vet sells de-skunking juice. I joked about it with a lady on one of our visits... never dreamed I might need a bottle.

Bernita said...

The introductory issue, Robyn, seemed to be that women claim to love men and babies. Men and babies stink. Women claim not to like stinks,therefore women are hypocrites.

Liz, you have a dog that goes outside and you never thought you'd need de-skunker?

raine said...

Oh, my.
Hope I didn't do anything to fuel a problem.
Be gentle, Bernita. ;-)
(I also love the Rosseau).

Bernita said...

Raine, in no way are you responsible for the thoughts of this passer-by.

I'd like to drag this out for a couple more days just as an excuse to post more Rousseau.

writtenwyrdd said...

For clothing, you can't beat this stuff called OdoBan. I haven't found anything that really works well for skunk on pets, though. Some stuff improves the odor, but nothing completely gets rid of it that I've found.

Does anyone have a miracle cure?

Robyn said...

The introductory issue, Robyn, seemed to be that women claim to love men and babies. Men and babies stink. Women claim not to like stinks,therefore women are hypocrites.

He's a woman hater who's smoking crack. Ignore him.

Bernita said...

Sometimes we think we smell it even when it's gone, Written!

I suspect he does have a problem with, Robyn.

EA Monroe said...

A friend gave me this recipe:
1/2 bottle of peroxide
baking soda
dishwashing detergent to make a lather
His dog's been sprayed more than once and he swears it works. I haven't tried it yet on San.

writtenwyrdd said...

Thanks, e.a.! I'll try that next time I need a 'cure', which hopefully will be never!

I agree, Bernita, the writer (presumably a guy) is smoking crack. Had a bad day and wanted to share the misery.

spyscribbler said...

Skunks keep away the rats. Cities often import skunks for that very reason. I'll take skunks over rats, anyday!

M.E Ellis said...

Hmmmm. I never knew that about rats and larders. You're so damn interesting!



Bernita said...

Thank you, Michelle.
Just an alternative possibility that there may be some logical basis to these silly girly screechings at the sight of a mouse.