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Monthly Archives: October 2012

Problematicity

Moved here from Captain Awkward. Somewhere down in the comments I got all confused because a little spat about problematicness arose, about single women possibly being jealous and/or bitter. It took me a while to catch up with what was actually going on. The we is all about the commentariat over there.


I think…. okay, I think that generally when we’re gonna talk about problematic things, we’ve got to talk about them in generalities and not specifics, unless the specifics we are faced with are clearly problematic. And when the specifics we are faced with are problematic, if we’re going to call them out, we need to call them out in detail, preferably with compassion although I personally would accept clever snark. (note:  it should be clever!)

I say this because problematic is a thing that is all about The Context and the Culture and all that stuff that has clever jargon I can’t remember because it’s been too long since someone summarized judith butler at me. So if we’re going to be all about how single women being jealous and bitter is problematic, we’re talking about cultures and tropes and shit like that.

At Captain Awkward, we are talking about specific people in specific situations, and so I think it is unhelpful to get into abstract concepts or jump on specific language and just stop there. It’s not about Being Right, here, it’s about Being Helpful. I think.

But if someone’s Being Problematic Right Here, then it would be okay to talk about that specific incident, including how it fits within the Greater World of Problematic Shit, but always being anchored in what’s happening here.

At least in spaces like the Captain’s blog, whose owner can obviously disagree with me.


As for the bitterness and jealousy question, I think that yes, in fact, it is a loaded concept when speaking of single women, who are socially valued according to the men in their lives, and who are expected to feel those things when they are unmarried at an advanced age. Where advanced is, depending on who’s talking, anywhere from 21 to 35 or so. Pretty much everyone seems to understand that women who are still single at 35 are suspect.*

In that CA post, the letter writer didn’t use the words bitter or jealous, so that language came from the Captain. However, upon investigation, I think it is appropriate to use those words to describe the behavior of the LW’s friend. Especially since JenniferP is saying “It is okay to feel bitter or jealous, and it happens, but it is not cool to get that emotional yuk all over your friends.” We don’t know how the friend would describe her feelings, but we do know how someone describes her actions.

White Rabbit reasonably posted that hey, you can be single and grumpy about it and not be jealous and bitter. She also pointed out that she doesn’t act like the LW’s friend, so… it’s kind of a point of info, and not any big thing.

Since everyone who’s saying anything specific about jealousy, bitterness, or singleness is saying generally reasonable things, I think that the source of the grumpy is all about the idea of “problematic” and what does it mean.

Thus, my analysis above. **

I conclude that Sarah is the one who went most astray in that commenting section. The big problem with her posts is the lack of stuff. I mean, yeah, there might be something problematic with an advice writer reaching for jealous and bitter as words to describe an unhappily single woman. That might be interesting! But she didn’t really talk about that, I’m just guessing that it’s what she meant. I’m still not sure why she thought JenniferP was trying to insult her commentariat.

*I got married for the first time at 36. I’m in generality-space in that paragraph.

** Everything since the previous asterisk is in specificity-space. See the difference?


White Rabbit wants to talk about problematicness! So I invite everyone over here to talk about it. Go nuts.

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Gnocchi

I made gnocchi with sage brown butter sauce! It was shockingly successful considering: I have never made it before; I had waxy potatoes; those potatoes were green and starting to grow; I don’t have a good masher; we ran out of butter.

The potato did not get entirely mashed, but my lovely husband actually rather liked the chunks. I didn’t get them into pretty shapes; I was lucky enough to get them cut, they were falling apart. I think I might have needed a teensy bit more flour. But they were also tender, because of the light flour, and because the potatoes were undercooked enough to be hard to mash. (Overcook potato ==> needs more flour ==> small white balls of lead, says the internet.)

I forgot to season them when I put the batter together, oops, although I did add butter so that was okay. I used just flour and butter, no egg. An egg would definitely have held it together better but I kinda like not having it.

Then, while the water boiled to cook the things, I took fresh sage and fried it in a small pool of olive oil. This got very spattery since I had just washed the sage. Sage is fuzzy, you see. It holds onto liquid. I needed an oil shield! But fried sage is incredibly awesome, it’s crunchy and yummy, much less bitter, has a much better texture, and the flavor comes on you at the end. Also, this seasoned a bit of oil! Win-win. Added the rest of the butter in the house and browned it up. Also added some garlic-from-a-jar. Not enough sauce to toss the gnocchi in, but enough to put on the table for us to add. Since it would be undersauced, I decided to sprinkle the gnocchis with garlic powder and salt when I got them out of the water.

I was too hungry to get pictures.

They didn’t have a lot of individual integrity, although I think a sauce or an egg would have helped. They were pretty tasty, and the process was easy although time-consuming. I hear you can do it much faster with instant mashed potato.

I used All Recipes – Gnocchi II (and its comments) and this comment I googled up for reference. Go go gadget internet!

Silk Caps

I have been learning a lot about spinning fiber! There’s a whole lot of different fibers out there, and you can get them in various levels of pre-preparation. Most you can get approximately raw, like you can buy unwashed wool, or cotton bolls, etc. You can get anything from that to a “top”, which is fiber that’s been combed or carded and processed so all the fibers go in the same direction and pulled into a kind of tube, so it’s very easy to work with. Mostly fiber is undyed but you can get lots of dyed fiber.

So I needed a small amount of stuff to make up the discount level in my spinning order, (from the Woolery) and they sell “silk caps”. These are single cocoons that have been cleaned (degummed) and, in this case, dyed interesting colors. They haven’t been otherwise pulled apart, though, to make a top or anything. I didn’t know what to expect. It turns out that they’re well-named! They’re about the size and shape of a shower cap, thinner in the middle, thicker on the edges where the cocoon was cut. They’re many thin layers of silk, one on top of another.

Aside from the source probably not being fancy awesome worms (which apparently make golden silk, I guess, that was reserved for royalty in India and I am not good at spinning silk so I haven’t ordered any of *that* yet), these particular cocoons were probably cut, so that the caps involve lots of individual strands of fiber. I guess if you buy a good cocoon complete with dead bug, or if it’s been extracted from the end of the cocoon, then it will be all a single strand. The silk industry is interesting.

I am not up for dealing with dead bugs, myself. Ew.

Also, since I am at the “experiment with everything!!!” phase of this hobby, I ordered the cotton sampler, which came with a neat tiny supported spindle. It includes an actual cotton boll, like it comes off the plant. It also has some fluff that has some bits of plant matter in it. I see why the cotton gin made such a difference, because wow.

Later samplers will include silk samplers, and so I expect to get cocoons that are possibly intact. I’m hoping they will be de-bugged. Some look dyed, and I really had no idea you could dye silk in a cocoon (it looks like easter eggs) so I’m pretty interested about that. If it’s bugged I’ll have to have my best friend help me out.

In the meantime, I have given up the bamboo rayon for the shawl and turned to a mix of merino and silk. It spins up like a dream and I like the feel of it!