In defense of Nancy Botwin
March 25, 2023
April 22, 1971: Walt Kelly suggested that the enemy was us. He was talking about the state of the planet, but aren't human rights part of that state? I've been down this rabbit hole before and it's almost always the same: Women, PLEASE, get a grip. The Collective Consciousness just bristled.
It's easy to hate on men. It's ineffective to hate on men. It's a copout. The Collective Consciousness is barking at my door.
Dear Collective Consciousness: I'm not suggesting that we not hold men accountable, I'm suggesting it's not enough.
I'm the only woman in the room again. For awhile, like in 2018, I had company and then suddenly not. Where have you gone, my sisters? Technology is just not that hard, says the woman with very little formal education and a preference for literature, art, music, dance, and farming. Yes, farming. Technology is lucrative, that's how I got here in the nineties and why I've stayed. It doesn't hurt that I like it, but for the most part I've liked just about everything I've done and that is a choice.
So where have you gone, and why?
I just finished re-binging eight seasons of Weeds and I suspect I'm alone in my experience of what happened to Nancy Botwin. Take the illegal aspect of her home grown business out of the equation (it's a fucking metaphor and a slapstick device) and then swap the gender. Who was angrier with Nancy Botwin, women or men? Who slapped all those red letters on her forehead (BM = Bad Mom, S = Slut), women or men? Who damned her for using her sexuality as currency? Who failed to notice that at whatever dead-end she found herself, she always found a way out.? Who called her a cock tease and celebrated, silently or otherwise, when Andy Botwin unceremoniously banged her on the neighbor's lawn, straightened her dress, and walked away forever? Andy Botwin, the guy best known for his great and careful work as a lover who chased this woman from California to New England until she finally said yes and his need was fulfilled. It was never about Nancy.
Nancy Botwin found herself widowed and broke with two children and an unwanted houseguest AND she kept them housed, clothed, fed, and out of jail (she did his time) until they were grown. She was utterly villainized. What did she do wrong (remove the illegality of her business, it's a metaphor)? She didn't pay enough attention or supply enough stability to make her children happy. One of them confessed to a friend that he was afraid his father had loved him more (Dad's dead and the dead are sainted). They hated her, we condemned her. Her daughter-in-law refused to speak to her.
In the end Nancy is alone and Andy says a thing that's been said to me:
It's over! You owe no one anything! Everything is for you now!
Fuck you, Andy; she's got no idea what it means to be 'just Nancy'. No road out. Reminds me of Shel Silverstein's The Giving Tree. I hate that story.
My point? She walked that eight-year path alone and the stone throwers were women. The men did what they did, but the women tried, convicted, and hanged her.
And the Handmaids march in Israel.
photo credit: Associated Press March 17, 2023