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?