And then we came to the end

I’ve just come home from three days away. Mr Bodycrimes is away on business, so I’m here with the neighbour’s cat, who’s wandered in to escape the cold.

There is unpacking to be done and emails to be answered and clothes for the morning to be ironed. But, having just travelled for seven hours straight, I thought it might be nice to have a cup of tea and surf the web for a bit. Catch up on news headlines, see what’s going on in the manosphere, gasp at the latest Daily Mail outrage, that kind of thing.

I also had some vague thoughts about blogging about something that happened yesterday.

And yet…

And yet…

I can’t bring myself to do it. Any more than I can bring myself to finish the six (count ‘em) half finished blog posts sitting in my draft folder, some of which are lighthearted, at least two of which are on relatively serious subjects.

I’ve enjoyed the blogging experience, which I started doing late one night when I was stuck in Hong Kong airport. Since then, the blog has been a reliable distraction whenever I’ve been killing time somewhere.

(Oddly enough, every one of my most popular posts was written while in the Lufthansa lounge, one of the most uninspiring places on the planet.)

The blog started out as observations on the insidious intrusion of market values into every corner of our lives. As I’d just finished my cancer treatment, I’d also drop in posts here and there on health matters.

Then I got hooked on writing about various feminist things, mostly to have fun with some of the radical misogyny I’d tripped into online. Strangely enough, I found the more I poked the misogynists with a stick, the bigger my readership got. It turns out there’s a huge appetite for manosphere mocking. When I pretty much stopped talking about it for a while last year, my readership fell off a cliff. I’ve since given in to the temptation to write a couple more posts on the subject.

But it’s not a good temptation to indulge. Mr Bodycrimes hates it, and I think for a good reason – it’s mean spirited, for a start.

Also because it’s affected my writing. Facile blogging like this is, in literary terms, the equivalent of eating fast food all the time. It’s made my writing flabby and dull.

So I’ve decided to leave the Christian Taliban and their fellow travellers in peace. What seems at first to be a hotbed of anti-women activity is basically just a bunch of middle aged men sitting round chatting to one another about stuff.

If they weren’t holding forth on the finer points of misogyny and Titus 2, it would be freemasonry, or Bilderberg conspiracy theories. These men are either single and unhappy about it, or divorced and unhappy about it, so if sitting round praying for civilisation to collapse cheers them up, who am I to mock them?

I have better things to do.

Before I was wasting time blogging, I was using my spare time to write. This morning I realised that I’d begun blogging after my last book was delivered and I was worrying about what to do next, and that the blog was just a cover for a great big hole called Writer’s Block.

Funnily enough, as soon as I realised that, the solution presented itself. In the 15 minutes before my taxi was due to come and whisk me to the airport, I ran into a stationery shop and stocked up on good, old fashioned paper and pens. There’s something deeply exciting about stationery. The shop was having one of those ‘3 for 2′ deals on lined notebooks with stern black bindings, so I carried off as many as my baggage allowance could tolerate. I bought so many, the shop assistant said I’d earned a free lever arch file. When I said I didn’t want it, he ran after me into the street to convince me to take it!

But the notebooks are enough. I’ve mostly always written with a computer, but very occasionally I’ve used pen and paper and been surprised at what comes out. There’s something about picking up a physical pen and applying it to actual blank paper that produces deeper thought than is possible with keyboard and screen.

So that’s it, really. I’m going to unpack, lay my notebooks and pens out, ready for use tomorrow, and then turn on Wolf Hall. I won’t be back to this blog.

Thank you to everyone who has read and commented, which I’ve really enjoyed.

And thanks, of course, to the Christian Taliban, who have not only greatly entertained me, but who have occasionally made me pause for thought.

Best wishes,

Bodycrimes

Is business travel for women just an excuse for illicit sex?

There are few things in life as disgusting as getting up early on a winter’s morning – on a Sunday, no less – to get to the airport.

A dose of Ebola, maybe.

Maybe I’m just feeling particularly jaundiced this morning, as I am running a slight fever, and the guy who served me my blueberry muffin practically threw it at me. He’s obviously not enjoying airport life, either.

Fortunately, I have something he does not: entertainment from the manosphere. And I have found an amazing comment that speaks directly to my current circumstances.

Dalrock, a leading light of the Christian Taliban, recently held a discussion on his blog about a travel journalist whose friends tease her about her lack of husband.

Much hilarity then ensued in the comments about careerist women and cats etc etc. All par for the course. Mostly I scrolled through the comments.

But then I found a doozy.

It’s written by a commenter called Opus:

It seems to me however that there is a quantifiable difference of experience as between the male and the female business traveler, for from the moment the Taxi arrives in the beltway to take our heroine to Dulles, BWI or the renamed Washington National (and what a great little airport that is) the female business traveler being waited on hand and foot assumes a position only previously meted out to Royalty or Celebrity. Whether it is the Maitre D or the Pool Boy or the Barman or any of the other men who effortlessly move her luggage and facilitate her stay in the downtown Hilton in some far away city, she has men dancing attendance on her and she knows that anyone of them will, should she make it clear provide and at little or more likely no extra cost – than a smile – provide any personal services that she may require. Not that she is like that of course but there was that guy in Acapulco, or was it Rio – she can’t now remember – who was so cute, so Hawt, … it just happened.

It is not like that however for Novaseeker as he travels the world. Certainly the characters don’t change, but there is of course neither any sexual frisson with the Taxi-driver as he loads your suitcase into the back of his cab or with any of the other supporting actors in his latest trip. Novaseeker and his Taxi-driver are two guys on a mission or at least with a mutual object and will facilitate each other to achieve that goal, but if a romantic escapade is what is on his mind, Novaseeker is going to have to seek it out and pay, and that makes it rather hard to see the liaison as a romantic encounter.

OK, the prose is convoluted, so I’ll take a stab at translation. Basically, if I’ve understood him correctly, Opus is claiming that business travel is experienced differently by men and women.

Men are travelling because they have business to do. Women get sent places (for some unfathomable reason) for holidays, at which they can have unlimited sex, should they wish it. Taxi drivers, porters and concierges all make themselves available should our intrepid lady require a happy-endings massage.

Well.

I visited 15 countries for work last year, so I’ve got some insight into the way business travel works.

I’ve done it the easy way, and the hard way. Sometimes it’s been the pointy end of the plane and five star hotels; sometimes it’s been a rattly car with no air conditioning, weaving its way through a deprived rural area in the height of summer.

I’ve been with groups or travelled solo, mostly doing it in the company of a contact who was in charge of the driving and translating (always men).

Not once – not once! – has any concierge or porter even hinted he’d be up for a bit of nooky, should I so desire.

Of course, it could be me personally that porters and taxi-drivers are shying away from. Maybe other lady travellers get offered all the benefits that I don’t. I’ve never seen it or heard of it, though.

Airports and hotels – even swish ones – are often anti-sex places. Everybody’s tired and cranky, and on their best behaviour because they’re shoved together with strangers. Everyone’s conscious that they’re representing their outfit and when people finally get drunk and disorderly, their worst behaviour is usually confined to blurting out how much they hate the company they represent. That’s not to say that sex doesn’t happen – between business travellers.

But business travelling is different for men and women, and it has to do with tipping. It’s thought that men generally tip more highly than women, so in tipping cultures like the US, women can be left for dust as the porters make a beeline for the men, their faces plastered with wide, greasy grins.

Which brings me to another difference. In some parts of the world, business hospitality still consists of taking people to brothels. Women are, naturally, excluded.

Prostitution is the blight of the frequent traveller in some places. One of the unexpected consequences of Germany’s liberal prostitution laws, is that word gets around. Many a happily-married German now finds himself ferrying overseas colleagues to the brothels they’ve heard so much about.

In fact, I was sent to an ex-Soviet country earlier this year, to cover a colleague who refused to go again. The hospitality offered on his one and only visit was prostitutes in the spa. He declined, and had to spend his evenings alone in a grimy hotel room with no wifi.

(He did say that if he ever went again, he’d take the prostitutes, because at least doctors can cure syphilis now, whereas the hepatitis he picked up from the breakfast eggs will be with him for life.)

The fact is, frequent travel isn’t that much fun, even if people like Opus seem to think that ‘business travel’ is synonymous with ‘holiday’.

In fact, if the manosphere really wanted to stamp out ‘baby mommas’ and sexual license, they’d send every male and female under 25 on a non-stop round-the- world business trip, with PowerPoint presentations at every stop. The rate of STDs, babies and abortions would plummet.

Oh, and there’s another difference between the male and female traveller. It’s accepted that men are on business. Women, on the other hand, are always assumed to be on holiday, as though companies and organisations pay for their international tickets just because they like them. I’ve even had people refer to my travel as ‘your holiday’, or ask me if I truly need to be away so much, as though it’s a choice I’m making.

Right, I seem to have said everything on the matter that needs saying, and I still have 40 minutes to kill before boarding.

I’ve done the manosphere. Time for some Daily Mail.

UPDATE: Another indignity male travellers don’t have to face – their underwire bras setting off the metal detector. Every frickin’ time.

Urine drinking, women hating and the red pill

One of the things I’ve noticed about the New Misogynists is that they use the term ‘feminism’ as a proxy for ‘women’. Any time women annoy them, or fail to be the people they want them to be, misogynists accuse ‘feminists’ of destroying proper womanhood.

Feminists are also accused of ‘pedestalising’ women; in other words, society apparently now teaches that women are somehow better, more spiritual, more lovely and more moral than men, thanks to the corrupting influence of feminism.

In fact, the pedestalisation of women (so to speak) is a product of the nineteenth century, from a time when many writers and social commentators were wading in on the so-called Woman Question. The response of writers like John Ruskin, in his famous essay Of Queen’s Gardens, was to call on women to act as the moral inspiration for men.

These Victorian arguments about women being somehow finer and nobler than men were attacked by second wave feminists as being a piece of bait and switch; they argued that women were being asked to accept empty flattery in the place of self-determination and political power.

Today, many feminists argue that the battle for equality will be won when women are allowed to fail, just as men are: if a male CEO blows up his company’s share price, he’s seen as a bad leader. If a female CEO does the same thing, it’s a sign that no woman should be a CEO. In other words, men are allowed to be individuals, while a woman is always a stand-in for ‘women’ generally.

But we’re a long way off the time when women will be seen as individuals, if comments in The Telegraph are any guide.

The Telegraph, a venerable centre-right UK newspaper, has attracted an odd set of commentators to its Wonder Women section. It’s a strange enough section anyway for a major newspaper, as many of the articles featured are of blog post standard, and written by a poor calibre of writer, often about extremely trivial subjects.

Often the articles aren’t open for comment, but when they are, the combox is swarmed by misogynists touting ‘red pill‘ views. What makes this so strange is that this particular brand of misogyny is very much an American phenomenon, so I’m not sure what’s going on – either a lot of unemployed Brits are hanging round reading American red pill sites, or red pill Americans have decided The Telegraph is a fertile battleground.

Anyway, yesterday’s Wonder Woman section had an article about urine drinking. Having heard about this health fad, writer Rebecca Reid asked her friends if any of them had ever tried it. Apparently, yes, one of them had put drops of urine on her face to clear up her pimples.

The comments were fascinating. One man suggested everyone should stop visiting restaurants, because if women were drinking urine, they were likely to be putting it in food as well. Other comments:

any offers to assist these feminists in their pursuit of lunacy?

and

Astrology, detoxes and now pissing in their faces. Women…this is not helping your feminist cause.

Eh? Drinking urine is a feminist pursuit, simply by virtue of being mentioned in conjunction with women?

For anybody’s who’s interested, look up urotherapy on wikipedia. Urine has been used in various ways since ancient times, including by the Romans, who used it to get their togas and sheets white. I first heard about it when my Kazhak neighbour recommended a couple of drops of it in the eyes each day as a prophylaxis against loss of vision. It sounds like a folk remedy to me – and one that’s just as likely to be touted by men as by women, according to the Wikipedia article.

But the point I’m making isn’t for or against doing wacky things with bodily waste.

It’s that when these people say they hate feminists, they’re being dishonest.

There are people who take issue with parts of contemporary feminism, who nevertheless take for granted that women are human beings entitled to autonomy. I’m not talking about them.

But when the New Misogynists and assorted red pillars say they hate feminists, what they really mean is they loathe women.

 

Mia Khalifa and the soft bigotry of low expectations

As if the Lebanese didn’t have enough to cope with, being situated smack bang in the middle of the Middle East and all, they now have Rebecca Reid – who describes herself as a “clever, pretty, educated, upper-middle class” girl – thundering from The Telegraph that they should be proud of the fact that their most famous woman is a porn star:

The women of Lebanon have waited years for a high profile woman from their country to take the world stage. And now it’s happened: in the form of 21-year-old Mia Khalifa, a porn star.

Khalifa is in fact the world’s most popular porn star, having just become PornHub.com’s most frequently searched adult performer after three months in the industry.

Apparently the people of Lebanon have not only failed to recognise what an inspirational role model Khalifa is, they’re actively rejecting her and sending death threats her way.

Reid thinks they’ve got it all wrong:

Of course, people are scared of success that they don’t understand. But she’s an accessible role model: a 21-year-old business woman with the sort of success that young people can understand – rather than some lofty, far removed figure. If you’re not impressed by that, who would you be impressed by?

Call me a cold-hearted cynic, but it takes quite a lot to impress me. For the sake of the argument, I’ll assume – as Reid urges me to – that porn is just another industry. So how did Khalifa get to the top?

Was it her carefully-cultivated style, her acting skills, her financial acumen, or her intellect? Did she train like an Olympic athlete so she could have sex in truly astounding ways? Has she pushed the boundaries of what is humanly possible?

Did she set up her own company, so she could have sex on camera on her own terms? Did she work undercover to bring criminals in the industry to justice? Has she launched a sex toys company and built a commercial empire?

Apparently not.

A quick google reveals she got to the top of PornHub.com because lots of men like watching her having bog-standard anal sex.

Nothing daunted, Reid enumerates her achievements to date: 1. Khalifa’s got a BA in History from a good university; 2. Her own car; 3. Her own apartment [rented?]; 4. Two dogs; and 5. She’s moved out of home.

Not only that, but Khalifa’s ‘wish list’ of books on Amazon – i.e. books she hasn’t got around to reading yet – include the complete works of Shakespeare.

And here’s the really amazing thing:

She has 107,000 followers on Twitter and 143,000 on Instagram. Khalifa’s not just a porn star. She’s an influencer. [Emphasis mine.]

With all that under her belt, I can’t imagine why the Lebanese aren’t rushing to canonise her.

Reid suggests the reason that many Lebanese people are pissed at Khalifa is because they’re threatened by her sexual empowerment, plus her boob job.

They probably are. It’s true that people, particularly from traditional cultures, do get very angry about women who live life on their own terms. But Reid should wait for a bit before she lectures people about Khalifa. Given that the average porn star flames out in less than 18 months, it’s too early to declare Khalifa a ‘success’, even as a porn star. She may be just another girl being churned through a system that extracts as much sex from newcomers as it can, before spitting them out and moving on to the next girl.

There’s no excuse for death threats. If Kahlifa wants to pay her rent and feed her dogs by renting out her back passage, that’s her right to do so.

But there’s a big difference between insisting on someone’s right to safety, and actively holding them up as a role model.

I’ll tell you what I personally find more impressive than a 21-year-old being able to move out of home and gather 100,000 followers on Twitter – someone being able to get a gig writing this kind of stuff for The Telegraph.

It’s frankly amazing.

Who really believes in complete freedom of speech?

What are we to make of all the alt/right bloggers who are suddenly full-throttled champions of free speech? The proliferation of Mahommed cartoons has happened so fast, it’s like a virus has spread. I’ve seen the Jyllen-Posten cartoons reproduced so often now, I could probably draw them for you.

Because apparently now even the lefty elites have woken up to how pernicious ‘politically correct’ speech is, it’s time to throw off the shackles and speak freely.

This new-found desire to speak openly and damn the consequences – of which there are none, to men living in safe, far-away places – is launching all manner of venom, and not just in cartoon form. Apparently ‘freedom of speech’ is now defined as the ‘freedom to be as crass and insulting as possible’.

To all these mighty champions of the Wests’s traditions of free speech, I have a hypothetical for you:

You turn on the radio and find that you’ve tuned in to a community radio station, broadcasting from Birmingham. On it are a couple of Muslims lads, who are laughing and chortling about the Charlie Hebdo massacre. They’re saying it couldn’t have happened to a more deserving bunch of infidel cartoonists and they salute the people who did it.

Further, they’re reminding listeners to start making salads and marinaded lamb for the fundraising Bible burning next Saturday. After the bonfire, could everyone stick around for the interesting discussion on what an Islamicised Europe might look like.

Do you (a) call the MI5 hotline and tell them what you’ve heard or (b) switch off the radio, thinking to yourself, “I don’t like what they’re saying, but I defend to the death their right to say it,” or (c) use your right of reply to launch an angry blog post blaming feminists, liberals and SJWs for allowing Muslims to take over Western culture and making life hard for white heterosexual male in this day and age?

Answers on a postcard, please.

H/T to Snorkmaiden for (c)

Max Hastings kisses the whip

There is no more dispiriting sight than to see people who should be standing for values like the right to privacy and free speech arguing for the curtailment of freedom. And in Britain, the country of habeas corpus and George Orwell, no less.

What’s even worse is when the person doing it is a distinguished writer.

Today it was Max Hastings, writing in The Daily Mail, who argued:

Our principal weapons against terrorists are not tanks, Typhoon fighter jets or warships, but instead intelligence officers using electronic surveillance.

Mr Hastings thinks the security services should have the right to spy on everybody, without objection:

A senior intelligence officer told me recently how dismayed he and his colleagues were by the risk that their listening operations would be curtailed by civil liberties campaigners.

Hastings then rehashes the argument of snoops everywhere – if you’ve got nothing to hide, you’ve got nothing to worry about:

I cannot for the life of me imagine what harm can result from MI5 accessing the phone calls, bank accounts, emails of you, me or any other law-abiding citizen.

In which case, he should pay a visit to parts of the former Soviet bloc.

It’s been more than 20 years since the Berlin Wall was toppled, and yet the effect of living under constant Stasi surveillance can still be seen in the former East Germany. Visit a city like Dresden or Leipzig and try and get a conversation going. People are tight-lipped and blank, still observing rules for self-preservation that haven’t been needed in two decades.

Worse, according to researchers, this ongoing self-censorship is one of the reasons the former East Germany economically lags the former West Germany so badly.

In any case, why exactly does MI5 apparently want the right to monitor the phone calls and bank accounts of ordinary people? Most of us don’t let our closest friends and family members go through our email and bank statements. If MI5 wants this right for itself, then they have to give a very compelling reason why.

The onus should not be on private citizens to explain why they want their privacy. It should be on the security services to explain why they want to take it and under what specific circumstances. And what checks and balances will be in place.

Further, where will the limits of electronic surveillance be drawn? At what point does everybody go: this far and no further.

Britain is already covered in CCTV. Should security services also have the right to put cameras in the classroom, just in case teachers are teaching jihad? Should they be able to put cameras into people’s homes?

How about in doctors’ surgeries? There have been a couple of horrible cases of paedophile doctors preying on patients recently. Maybe if there was a camera in every consulting room, such outrages would have been prevented. After all, why should anybody want to hide their body from scrutiny?

To be honest, I’m curious why Max Hastings – a notable journalist, author and historian – believes we have no option but to surrender every last vestige of privacy to the state:

It is not easy for the authorities and the Charities Commission to move against [radical Muslims], because the claims of human rights, multiculturalism and community harmony are invoked in defence of a right to espouse extremist doctrine.

Well maybe it’s time to have a robust conversation about that instead. One of the pillars of freedom of speech is the right to question and the right of reply. Go and challenge the people defending the ‘right to espouse extremist doctrines’ and make them explain themselves.

Get Jeremy Paxman to interview imams, multicultural campaigners and human rights bureaucrats and put them on the carpet. It could be very useful.

They might have something genuinely interesting to contribute to the debate, that undermines our narrative of shining West versus evil Muslims.

Or they might start squirming, which will make it easier to overturn what they’ve done.

I can suggest a starting point. Someone should go and have a chat with Baroness Warsi. According to Charles Moore in today’s Telegraph:

Before she resigned from the Government over Gaza last year, the Muslim peer Lady Warsi worked with the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, which wants a worldwide ban on insulting religions. She supported the UN Human Rights Council Resolution 16/18, which would declare an attack on a faith to be an unacceptable affront to its adherents and vice versa.

Didn’t Parliament just get rid of blasphemy laws a couple of years ago? So why is a member of the House of Lords using public money in the service of turning religious insults back into a crime? Enquiring minds want to know.

Getting answers isn’t that hard. I have a half-written blog post about some legislation that Baroness Deech is trying to get passed. Concerned that I didn’t understand its implications properly, I sent an email to her parliamentary address. Within five minutes, Lady Deech had replied from her iPad.

If an unknown blogger with three readers can get that kind of response, then I’m pretty sure journalists like Charles Moore and Max Hastings can rustle up an interview.

If Britain truly is under assault, not just from Islamic extremists, but also from do-gooding multiculturalists, progressives, feminists, Guardian readers and so on, the answer isn’t an electronic surveillance free-for-all. Because that just puts everyone in a vice between two forces, with civil liberties and privacy crushed in two directions.

The answer is to use what’s good about the West – its traditions of journalism, argument, mockery, discussion and debate – to get people to explain themselves. Shine a light into dark corners and get it all out in the open. Get people – from imams to Rotherham councillors – to explain and defend themselves. In the open, where everybody can hear it.

Of course, if intelligence services have clear leads, then let them follow them. That’s a different thing from handing them a blank cheque.

But the sight of journalists and authors calling for more secrecy and more surveillance, just in case?

Surveillance, in any land where it is ubiquitous and inescapable, generates distrust and divisions among its citizens, curbs their readiness to speak freely to each other, and diminishes their willingness to even dare to think freely.

–Ariel Dorfman

Little House on the Prairie and other cherished historical illusions

Despite being a bookworm as a kid, I steered away from any novel about rural American life. That’s because I’d had the misfortune to pick up a book called Caddie Woodlawn, about this pioneer girl who runs around having a great life, until her father sits her down and explains that at some point she has to become ‘a woman’. From that moment on, Caddie takes up housework.

I would have thrown the book at the wall, except  it was a library book and I couldn’t risk damaging it.

But that was it for me and pioneering Americans. Instead, I turned back to Roald Dahl and his tales of cigar-chomping grandmas and factories full of chocolate.

When I was about ten, though, I was sick in bed for a whole week and Mum went off to the library to seek children’s books for me. She came back with a batch that included Little House on the Prairie, by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I remember liking it, so I read the next two in the series. And, of course, I was exposed to occasional re-runs of the television series, where I enjoyed the regular downfalls of the snobby rich girl, Nellie Olsen, and her terrible mother.

Apart from those minor exposures, though, Laura Ingalls Wilder and her tales of life on the prairies in the 19th century largely passed me by.

I came across them again, however, when I started reading Quiverfull blogs about 18 months ago. The Quiverfull movement is an extremely conservative Protestant sect that believes in breeding, basically. They see birth control as an outrage against God and, anyway, they want to have tons and tons of kids to outbreed the liberal.

Mostly the blogs I was reading were written by women who had escaped, so  they had a fairly jaundiced view of the whole movement, but one of the interesting things was how often they brought up the Ingalls Wilder books.

Apparently the books are not only held to be wholesome reading for children, who otherwise need to be shielded from contemporary entertainment, but they model ideal family life: wise father, resourceful mother, and a brood of close-knit children who grow to be self-sufficient. The series is understood to be a fictional version of an historical reality, because Ingalls Wilder used her own childhood as her jumping off point.

Except it turns out that what Ingalls Wilder was describing the sanitised version. This won’t be news to anyone who’s an aficionado of her books, but it was news to me – and, judging from the blogs I was reading the other year, it’s news that hasn’t reached a whole lot of other people either.

In The Guardian yesterday, Sarah Churchwell discussed Pioneer Girl, the original book that Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote. It appears to have been Rose Wilder Lane, her daughter, who helped shape the book into what became the bestselling children’s series:

Pioneer Girl provides a fascinating counterpoint to Wilder’s sterilised chronicle of sunny life on the open prairie. The reality, unsurprisingly, was rather more vicious…

Pioneer Girl reveals that the incident with Mrs Brewster was just one in a succession of encounters with serious domestic violence. For most of Laura’s childhood, she lived in close proximity to drunks, rapists, horse thieves, adulterers and more than one murderer, including perhaps a brush with a notorious family of serial killers…

In the novels, Laura doesn’t leave home for work until she is an adolescent, but in reality she was sent as a child to stay with strangers as a babysitter and paid companion. Once a drunk man came into her bedroom in the middle of the night and told her to lie still. She threatened to scream, and the next day was taken home.

Why this caught my attention is because the Quiverfull movement and its associated offshoots strongly believe that God made women as helpmeets for men, and that women therefore owe men subservience and submission. Not only do they base their ideas on the Bible, but also on history, arguing that in our past, families were all much happier because they lived more in tune with the biblical model. And one of the books that’s supposed to exemplify this is Little House on the Prairie.

Interestingly, Rose Wilder Lane, who may have had a hand in the early books, was the type of woman whose life would be denounced by these same people. Lane had a broken marriage; she was, at one time, one of America’s most successful writers; she subsequently worked as a war correspondent, in both post-liberation Europe and Vietnam; and she thought racism was a fallacy. Perhaps she is forgiven these unwomanly achievements because she was one of the ‘founding mothers’ of libertarianism, which seems so beloved by some parts of the extreme Christian movements.

And, of course, she helped to turn her mother’s unpublishable manuscript into a stream of bestselling children’s books that have become part of the American childhood – a singular literary achievement. But those fictional narratives shouldn’t be mistaken for actual history.

The publication of Pioneer Girl has done more to keep the historical picture distinct, dispelling some of the mists and myths of legend and showing us the dark realities of US pioneer life.