Ever heard the word “distaff” used in connection with females? Generally, the word is applied to wedded women, as in “His distaff side ain’t gonna like this!”.
I got to thinking about the etymology of the word, and what I found opens lots of discussion possibilities! According to the Mirriam-Webster Student Dictionary, the word comes to us from Old English “distæf”, where dis- refers to “bunch of flax” and stæf “staff”. More precisely, “the spinning of yarn or thread was traditionally done by women using a spindle and a distaff. A spindle was a long spool to hold and spin the yarn. A distaff was a short rod with an opening or branches at the top for holding the flax or wool.”
As the dictionary continues, “Because women usually did the spinning, the distaff came to be a symbol for women’s work. The word distaff in time took on the meaning ‘women’s work’ and later ‘woman.’ The noun distaff is rarely used in this way today, but the female members of a family are still referred to as the distaff side.”
What spun me up is what the word might have come to mean on the streets if it wasn’t somewhat obscure and obsolete, except among those of us with a historical bent. To “diss” someone is to disrespect them. Staff could be seen as an analog of the usage of the word “crew” or “posse”. So the street term could come to mean a group who disrespects someone. Spinnin’ Wheel Got To Go ‘Round!
I told you that tale in order to tell you this one.
Again, a topic was inspired by a comment of a regular in a previous thread. Tarnished related an encounter with the distaff side of her family regarding her relationship status and future. As she put it, “I’ve convinced them that I’ll never be having kids. Now they’re intent on telling me I’m ‘at least going to need to be married, right?’ ”
I believe I’ve said before that women tend to police their own on what behaviors are allowed and what are not, and from an early age. For instance, my five-year-old granddaughter already talks about when she gets married, although in this case I suspect it comes more from her traditionalist father and television than her mother. But we all know little girls who are already caught up in the fairy tale from whatever source.
It’s what happens after the wedding which concerns this post.
I replied to another Tarn query with this: “What you are experiencing is similar to slut shaming, in that women are expected to get some man to marry [her] and give [her] control [over him and the relationship]. That you choose to not do so, they see as cheapening the brand, so to speak. It isn’t The Way It’s Supposed To Be.” Think of what I relate below along these lines.
As I grew up, I’d regularly hear my mom giving my sisters (whom I will call Ree and Tee for my convenience) “advice” on what one does once one is married. It might be couched in terms of “when you have a house of your own” and such, but anyone with a smidgen of smarts knows what is entailed in the vast majority of cases to achieve home ownership – matrimony. To hear the rules of how sex is used in a relationship, however, isn’t something that is usually heard by male members of the family. That would risk exposing secrets!
Ree had just gotten divorced from a guy she bullied into marrying her. They’d once gone camping together, and she let him seduce her. “Now you have to marry me” was apparently the argument, and it went forward. She later complained -after the divorce was final- that on her first anniversary, she sat at home while he was out screwing another woman. She’d already driven him away with her manipulative behaviors.
So the divorce was now final, and Ree was openly on the prowl. I was about to move from Chicago to Los Angeles, and at my farewell party, Ree complained loud enough for all the guys to hear that she hadn’t gotten any in a while. She spent the rest of the evening interviewing potential suitors and rejecting them all due to one reason or another – usually how they had girlfriends or wives. Go figure!
This is where Tee comes in. She had some guys in tow who were from Greece, a couple of Wild and Crazy Guys! She was herself in the process of divorcing a guy who she’d driven insane (literally – he’s still in treatment), and thought the two of them would make good dates. I was still in Chicago when these guys came by to take them out, and I could see the trouble beginning to brew. Ree was dressed in full-bore cock-teaser attire, and their eyes lit up when they saw her. Mom also caught a glimpse of what Ree had on, and the smoke began to rise. “I want to talk to you two tomorrow night,” she declared in a threatening tone very familiar to family members as her way of saying, “Have fun, because I’ll make you pay for it later.”
Ree and Tee were out much of the night, not returning until very early in the morning. I don’t know that anything happened, but they were given the riot act the next evening. They were both told about how they looked like sluts, and that guys would treat them like sluts when they dressed like this. “You save such trash for when you and your husbands have sex in the privacy of your own bedrooms,” was the directive. “You get some kind of commitment out of a decent man before you give in to him.”
I’m sure in part mom didn’t like the fact that these guys were Greek. Northern Indiana Germans aren’t especially known for miscegenation with non-Aryans, you know!
Tarn had asked me in the thread, “Blurkel, You have a daughter, if I remember correctly. What kind of “advice” does your wife give to her?”
Having two daughters, I get to hear a fair amount. My elder daughter had met her current husband, and discussed with her mother whether sex could commence. “Not until you get some commitment out of him,” was the reply. The sign of commitment ended up being the engagement ring. Then it was OK with her mother that they got it on. Sex was now paid for without resorting to using the filthy lucre.
That got the hook in the mouth of the catfish, didn’t it?
Now to set the hook and land the fish.
An ex-sister-in-law was living with the collection of my mother-in-law, me, my fiancée (at the time), and my brother-in-law. BIL was humming as he went about waking up in the morning, prompting MIL to ask ex-SIL why BIL was so upbeat. Ex-SIL replied offhandedly, “Oh, he got a little last night.”
“You’re learning, girl!” exclaimed MIL, and certain light bulbs began to glow under my hood, not so much about that women used sex as a weapon of control of men, but how and a bit about why.
Tarn came up with a reply to my comments which inspired this post: “We often talk of women who are outside our daily lives…I’m interested to see what happens in the families of my online friends here. It’d be enlightening to compare notes on how we vs our female relatives were raised.”
Your assignment, Mr. Phelps, is to add to the discussion of the topic. In the event you are discovered or captured by The Distaff, we will deny any knowledge of you. This post will self-terminate in seconds. Good luck!