Destroying the Ancient Dick
November 7, 2019 7:05 AM   Subscribe

"It says that in order for the men to thrive, women must be kept in line and controlled. It says, This starts now. It says women are worth something great to us, and because of that we must say that they are less than us, and we must never let them know what it is about them that we are trying to take for ourselves. It says, Women can’t. They must not. It says, Women are property. Men decide what women can do with their bodies. Men own women. We are all separate and must stay divided. Women are beneath, less than, but also, watch out for them, really do watch out! But act like you are not 'watching out' or scared—act like a good guy who is protecting the holy object." The Code of Hammurabi: Jenny Slate watches a documentary, eats curry, and envisions the end of patriarchy.
posted by HumanComplex (20 comments total) 42 users marked this as a favorite
That was an ... effervescent read. Her writing style is a pain in the ass but she's got a great punch line. "There was a beginning and there can be an end." Down with patriarchy. Up with self-respect.
posted by irisclara at 7:29 AM on November 7, 2019 [9 favorites]

Myself, I loved the writing style ... "de gustibus", I guess. Already subscribed to the New York and London reviews, now I'm afraid I might have to add Paris to the list.
posted by crazy_yeti at 7:32 AM on November 7, 2019 [2 favorites]

The Code of Hammurabi has been a thing I've made a point to see both times I've been to the Louvre in the last 10 years. I find it fascinating, and this is a great explanation as to why.

We took our son, 8, to see it last year and talked to him about what it means for society to have laws, and what it means when they're unjust.

Would have been more fun to scream at it though.
posted by thenormshow at 7:33 AM on November 7, 2019 [13 favorites] this. Not familiar with this writer but now I'm seeking her out.
posted by emjaybee at 7:58 AM on November 7, 2019

emjaybee: It looks like this piece is excerpted from a book called "Little Weirds". It's now on my (overextended) reading list. I'm hoping to do a lot of reading this winter, if I can just tear myself away from the screen!
posted by crazy_yeti at 8:10 AM on November 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

What did you mean by pain in the ass? I thought it was good, natural to read and well structured around communicating the internal thought.

The Code of Hammurabi is the first evidence of legalized patriarchy. Does that send a shiver through your bones? Does that make you feel like we are currently ruled by fucking mummies who hate our mommies? Because that is what it is.

I was more aware of the Code of Hammurabi before this as introducing us all to another stupid ideology, of eye-for-an-eye justice, usually taught to be quite literal.

I love Jenny Slate in everything I've seen her in, I would read more from her again.
posted by GoblinHoney at 8:13 AM on November 7, 2019 [5 favorites]

She has a new standup show on Netflix called Stage Fright and it is really good.
posted by Stanczyk at 8:17 AM on November 7, 2019 [5 favorites]

I loved that. Adding Jenny Slate to my reading list now!
posted by beandip at 9:14 AM on November 7, 2019

Wow. I agree with those who said the writing made this even more effective. I felt this on a visceral level as I read, which I suspect is exactly what was intended, (especially given the curry references).

I remember learning about Hammurabi's code, but I sure never learned THIS.
posted by TheFantasticNumberFour at 9:23 AM on November 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

I've loved her since Parks and Recreation.Her role was...Mona-Lisa. Hahaha.

I love this and she is awesome! Thanks for the post, HumanComplex.
posted by snsranch at 10:31 AM on November 7, 2019 [2 favorites]

not as much cisnormative genital talk as i am always wary of!

i really do love the idea of screaming our worst accomplishments to literal dust. total, collaborative, active denouncement.
posted by gaybobbie at 10:57 AM on November 7, 2019 [2 favorites]

I love this. She speaks in my brain's cadence (which isn't so weird considering our backgrounds have big similarities). I definitely did not know the format of Hammurabi's Code, jeebus.
posted by wellred at 11:24 AM on November 7, 2019

I just don't want to read about her potential curry diarrhea, though. I am so very tired of poop non sequiturs as a comedy tic. Please stop it.
posted by desuetude at 12:28 PM on November 7, 2019 [7 favorites]

Yeah, I gave up part way through because while I was interested in the discussion of patriarchy, I was totally uninterested in the state of her bowels and it got tiresome quick.
posted by tavella at 2:07 PM on November 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

That was better than the comments here led me to expect. Thanks for posting!
posted by Too-Ticky at 2:19 PM on November 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

Not to nitpick, but I don't think Hammurabi actually invented patriarchy, he doubtless just codified and formalized a system of oppression that had been in existence for centuries by the time the Code of Hammurabi was written.
posted by sotonohito at 4:34 PM on November 7, 2019 [3 favorites]

Not sure how you meant it here, but most of the time when writing about history, "doubtless" means "I have no evidence, but it makes sense to me that..."
posted by straight at 7:38 AM on November 8, 2019 [5 favorites]

....and it's an exact continuation of the argument that patriarchy is just "natural," which the essay is, you know, about
posted by schadenfrau at 7:41 AM on November 8, 2019 [5 favorites]

Patriarchy is not natural, but it is well established that it got started long before Hammurabi. I mean, we have pre-Hammurabi records from Babylon which describe patriarchy. Saying 'the great man theory is wrong and it's incorrect to claim Hammurabi personally and single handedly created patriarchy' is not even slightly the same as saying 'patriarchy is natural'.

Centuries before Hammurabi there were ceramic cones inscribed with propaganda from the dictator of Enmetena and Urukagina that also contained a legal code specifying, among other things, that if women spoke out of turn their teeth should be smashed with bricks.

Patriarchy is not natural. It was certainly the creation of men, but men who's names are unknown. We know only the names of men who wrote down, codified, and refined patriarchy created before they were born.

It'd be nice to know the names of the particular people who created it so we can properly curse them, I'll agree with that.
posted by sotonohito at 8:33 AM on November 8, 2019 [11 favorites]

and really, we aren't ruled by mummies, though. We aren't being ruled by Hammurabi's big dick rock. It's just a rock. Whoever "created patriarchy" is dead and dust. Patriarchy is alive because of ten thousand years of living people recreating it day by day.

This is the part that felt most important to me:
Call me a vandal but ... I say, I think maybe we should throw it in the trash. Can something that is important enough to be in a museum go right to the trash now?

Or sure, sure. Okay. The trash doesn’t feel exactly right, so, okay.

What about: Keep it in the museum but say what it really is and what it has done, and make the museum visitors scream NOOOOOO at it, so that people on other floors of the museum are drawn to the spot of the shouting. People from Indiana and India and Iran—on vacation in France—say, What’s that exhibit where you get to scream at something?

They look at their museum maps but they can’t find any information. So they just do what animals do and they follow the sound. They form a crowd around a glass case that holds a random old stone boner and they find themselves screaming NOOOOOO as well. It is refreshing and out of the ordinary to do this, and they like it because it feels good to make big noises as a group.

And the sound waves are so forceful that they wash away the etching of the old, evil laws.

....... Then, place what is left into a little vial. Put that vial in a boring part of the museum. And the label on the vial should read, “These are the crumbs of the code that choked humans for thousands of years. This used to live in our minds and hearts. Now it is here and it is nothing but dust."
What is the purpose of a museum, anyway? It's about preservation, and reverence, but surely the highest goal of a museum must be to edify and enrich and change the minds of the people who visit. So anyway, I like this idea.
posted by Rainbo Vagrant at 12:45 PM on November 9, 2019 [4 favorites]

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