If the above vid is not the perfect illustration of concept I don’t know what is. This is the most recent YouTube upload by Royalty Soaps, what used to be a one-woman soapmaking business that has grown over several years into something else. The backstory here seems to be that at some point, the eldest yet still teenaged daughter in some freakishly large Quiverfull-type family consisting of a mother, a father and a dozen(ish) Irish twins* started making soap and with the help and support of that family has become very successful and has now delegated some of her substantial duties to others.
As described in this vid, this woman’s business recently experienced an unexpected and frightening setback and she relied heavily on her family to correct the situation and save the day, which they did in spades. They also had the time, energy, material resources and desire to throw her an Insta-worthy backyard 25th birthday party in the midst of this family project. The party was beautiful and the familial love and care given and received there, as documented in this vid…well watch it for yourself and see what you think. For me, the experience of watching this was somewhat complicated. I enjoyed it, was moved by it but it made me deeply uncomfortable and thinky…and hungry for salad, cake and sun tea.
What was so deeply disturbing to me about this footage was the backdrop against which it was shot and I’m not referring to her (albeit somewhat disturbing) home state of Texas, or a photo prop. The backdrop here, as it is most everywhere, is the social context of capitalism and patriarchy and what that means is that, in order for this situation and this footage to exist, this woman has had to comply, comply, comply in order to reap what must be conditional rewards of love; affection; physical presence and caretaking; emotional care and concern; and finally, material things that, under the current system, really only money can buy. Doesn’t it? In her case, she has had to buy into the religious, political and social traditions of her family including the patriarchal authority of her parents, the heterosexual and mommy mandates and more in order to have what she has. Of course, the traditions of her family mirror the traditions of her culture more or less exactly.
Luckily for her there does not seem to be any obvious conflict between her own values, conscience etc. and that of her family (or culture) but what if there was? What would happen to her if she woke up one day with, say, environmental concerns implicating overpopulation and natalism, or economic concerns implicating capitalism and the money system and the ethics of making and selling soap (or doing anything) for profit? What if, God forbid, this Quiverfull (or whatever) daughter woke up one day with feminist concerns which implicate all of that plus the destablization of the patriarchal authority of her father/parents, her husband, her church and the State?
Let’s talk about anitauthoritarianism for a bit. Antiauthoritarians, as far as I understand, do not normally stand around trying to sip lemonade through twigs, pissing in the wind or paddling swamped canoes sideways upstream; antiauthoritarians accept some authority in other words, like natural authority/natural law including the laws of physics. As described in this article from the Mad In America blog, antiauthoritarians just flatly reject illegitimate authority, or authority that appears to be illegitimate to them:
Anti-authoritarians question whether an authority is a legitimate one before taking that authority seriously. Evaluating the legitimacy of authorities includes assessing whether or not authorities actually know what they are talking about, are honest, and care about those people who are respecting their authority. And when anti-authoritarians assess an authority to be illegitimate, they challenge and resist that authority—sometimes aggressively and sometimes passive-aggressively, sometimes wisely and sometimes not.
People who do not or cannot accept what they see as illegitimate authority commonly become socially and financially disenfranchised leading to isolation and chronic poverty, homelessness and physical injury and disease.** Contributing to their disenfranchisement, antiauthoritarians are also often diagnosed, by capitalistic patriarchal medical authority no less, as being mentally ill. Which is exactly what authoritarian medical providers would tend to think of — and do to — anti-authoritarians innit.
In the case of the founder of Royalty Soaps, she seems to be doing quite well for herself, as far as we know is happy, healthy, and (therefore implicitly) socially, mentally, emotionally, intellectually and materially well-supported. But what did it take for her to get there? Under the current system of capitalism and patriarchy, since she is not particularly disenfranchised I think we can infer at least that either she is an authoritarian or that she is an antiauthoritarian who has decided that capitalistic and patriarchal authority is legitimate. Can’t we? I suspect that she is an authoritarian but even if she isn’t, in either case, she has been willing and able to take direction and correction from (for example) a serial impregnator (her father), a domesticated/patriarchal woman (her mother), an entitled male child (her young husband) and others with such dubious credentials and she seems to be fine with this. To be fair, her parents and family do seem to be nice people.
Funnily enough, in this vid we also see her taking direction and correction directly from the capitalistic patriarchal State by way of the town’s Fire Marshall who evicted her noncompliant workspace from her property, but if she ever wakes up with antiauthoritarian tendencies and an anticapitalist or pro-feminist bent the Fire Marshall — or even the State — will be the least of her problems.
The concept of antiauthoritarianism under conditions of capitalism and patriarchy has given me much food for thought and insights into my own life and struggles as a feminist woman in a capitalist patriarchy: I am pretty obviously an antiauthoritarian myself and have been unable to consistently take direction and correction from patriarchal authority which I have deemed illegitimate on its face. Of course, under a more or less global social system founded on patriarchy ALL social authority is rather inherently patriarchal isn’t it. That explains a lot.
I simply cannot take impregnators and oppressors of women or their authority seriously, I cannot take patriarchal handmaidens and/or domesticated women and their authority seriously. If some fucking porn addicted greasy manager/patriarchal enforcer/capitalist/prick says or implies that I have to do thus and so or else I will become homeless and raped (disenfranchised in other words) I have always had a serious problem with that.*** I don’t know why more people don’t, except that they are either authoritarians, or antiauthoritarians who think the authority of porn addicted greasy pricks is rooted in something legitimate. Some people probably do think that, yes. But I don’t. And “authoritarian” is not that great of a thing to be.
favoring or enforcing strict obedience to authority, especially that of the government, at the expense of personal freedom.
“the transition from an authoritarian to a democratic regime”
synonyms: autocratic, dictatorial, totalitarian, despotic, tyrannical, autarchic, draconian, absolute, arbitrary, oppressive, repressive, illiberal, undemocratic, antidemocratic
an authoritarian person.
synonyms: autocrat, despot, dictator, tyrant, absolutist.
*The youngest sibling, a toddler girl, was born with Down’s Syndrome and has leukemia for which the parents are subjecting her to chemo and radiation treatment. 😦 On that basis alone some people would start to seriously question the values and customs of this family and this culture but this woman doesn’t. Not yet anyway.
**The author of the article to which I cite describes antiauthoritarians “worrying” that these negative outcomes will materialize for them due to their noncompliance. He does not seem to imply that their fears are unfounded, and I suspect that their fears are quite founded indeed.
***I don’t have any problem avoiding homelessness by, say, not playing with fire, not living on a flood plain if I can help it (learned that one the hard way) or not disassembling my home with a screwdriver and selling the pieces for scrap. That means something. And the sicker I get, not-doing things — as opposed to doing things — is about the best I can do anyway.