It's the holiday season, which means a series of annoyances, including the fake War On Christmas, relentlessly stupid Christmas carols, trying to figure what to buy your loved ones whose taste is impossible to guess, and the fucking cold weather. But topping the list of the most head-bashingly annoying traditions must be the round of ads trying to sell diamonds to straight dudes by arguing:

1) Women are crazy, irrational bitches who just fucking love sparkling shit to wave at their friends to show you spend money on them and

2) Women are all-powerful demigods who can ruin your life if you don't comply with this demand on Christmas, anniversaries, Valentine's Day, birthdays, and pretty much any other occasion diamond sellers can think up.

Regular reader seeker6079 sent me what might be the most obnoxious and obvious example of this sales pitch of all time:

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Summary: Men who fuck up by doing things like buying their wives vacuum cleaners or the Thigh Master for gifts are sent permanently to a prison run by the evil female cabal, who only grants you amnesty if you realize that you need to buy a very expensive diamond to make up for it. I think I was most impressed by the insinuation that men and only men purchase gifts in heterosexual relationships, because straight relationships are business transactions more than intimate relationships. But it doesn't miss a beat in its nasty stereotypes: That women are harsh and all-powerful, that men are exquisitely stupid, that men and women have nothing in common, that men are tortured by doing "feminine" things like folding laundry or eating quiche (things you can escape by throwing more baubles at women).

Of course, I'm hard pressed to think of another way to sell diamonds. I think the most depressing part of this advertising blitz around every gift-giving opportunity is that a lot of people live their lives in this way, where women's compliance is bought off by a false pretense that women have power and a lot of shiny baubles.

But it's utterly pointless to read my cynical take on the tradition of men giving women jewelry, because Jill Soloway has written what I feel is the definitive piece on it. Here are excerpts, but seriously, read the whole thing. Or better yet, buy her hilarious book Tiny Ladies in Shiny Pants. Or both.

Me, I'm not that way so much, I see a big diamond on someone's finger and I say (high-pitched, fake-happy) "Wow!" but I'm actually thinking BLARGURGH or FLUGHVOMIT or some other sound that means I want to choke on my own soul......

I just don't get it, I mean, who ARE these women and WHAT are they doing for these diamonds? Do they withhold sex? Have constant sex? Give great blowjobs? Refuse to give blowjobs? Give blowjobs where at first you pretend to not really wanna be giving the blowjob but then you start to get into it and next thing you know you're just slobbering away like some diamond-deserving secret princess whore of blowjobs?


Are they mean? Are they nice? Do they scream? Do they think of themselves as a special prize that deserves special gems? Are their pussies cleaner than mine? Prettier than mine? Waxed? Unwaxed? Waxed with floor wax? Do they have giant stanky messy hairy retro bushes that don't give a shit at all, bushes that say fuck you - you're going to stick your face in this mess AND you're going to give me diamonds, WHAT IS THE FUCKING DEAL WITH THESE DIAMONDS?

Are they gifts of light for women who agree to be left in the dark? Are they a gift for innocence? You've been faithful to me for three more years, here's another diamond. You've been raising my children for seven years, your market value has fallen, here's some more diamonds. Your face is falling cuz you've been yelling at our children, so you have that line between your eyebrows and I have no idea what you'll get in the settlement when we split but I hope this rock buys me a few more months of peace in this house, here's another diamond. There's a hole in your soul because you gave up everything for me, is this rock big enough for that hole? What the fuck are these women doing for these diamonds?

Few things really make me laugh as hard as this, because I totally get where she's coming from. Even outside the sort of political feminism that defines my writing career, I've never been a member of the diamonds-and-flowers tribe. This would be true even if I'd never read Simone de Beauvoir or discovered riot grrl, I suspect. I don't speak the language, and am especially inept at the wink-and-nudge game where the less powerful person in the relationship pretends to have all this power, though I do see why that act needs to take place. Because when a more powerful person makes the jewelry gesture, then it invokes unpleasant associations. But if you pretend that the woman holds all the cards, then the gift of diamonds feels more like ass-kissing, and everyone can laugh it off, because it's just a game anyway. Like all acting, I can see how it works, but it doesn't mean I have any skills to do it, even if I wanted to.