Six Things Urban Feminists (Make That Anyone) Should Never Say to Rural People

Yves here. We featured a post last week about prejudice against Southerners. Some observed that the urban/rural divide was if anything worse. This piece lends support to that view.

By Annah Anti-Palindrome, a Contributing Writer for Everyday Feminism and a Bay Area-based writer, musician, and queer/femme antagonist who hails from the working-class craters at the base of the Sierra Foothills. For more info on her work, see To contact her, you can message her via her Facebook fan page. Originally published at Everyday Feminism; cross posted from openDemocracy

Folks with degrees from Smith and Wellesley talked to me in slower, louder voices once they realized where I was from.

This article is for my fellow poor/working-class, rural feminist transplants trying to navigate a movement and culture that centers urban, coastal, middle-class values, experiences, and people.

If your experience has been anything like mine, I know you’ve probably had to walk a long (and bumpy, dirt) road. And for those of you without the citizenship, cis-gendered and white-skin privileges I have, bumpy is undoubtedly an understatement.

While not all of us move to big cities, those of us who do might leave the towns we grew up in because we felt isolated, unsafe, fell in love, or got a fancy scholarship that propelled us into the academic industrial complex.

Others might leave in hopes of connecting with like-minded people, to obtain healthcare, or to gain access to the kinds of resources only made available to urban artists, activists, and culture makers.

I moved from my small, rural, hometown in northern California to the Bay Area because so many of the artists, activists, and culture makers I look up to have lived or still live here.

I wanted to witness their processes, study with them, learn and grow from their struggles and legacies. I wanted my own life and work to be influenced by the same landscapes and conversations as those of my mentors. (p.s. relocation, especially to the Bay Area, is complicated in general, no matter who you are or where you’re from.)

Upon arrival, we tend to be greeted with the simultaneous disgust and awe of a character from the movie Deliverance. Popular culture’s stereotypes and caricatures of us have never been kind.

We’re always portrayed as being a group of exclusively white, mullet-wearing, banjo-playing, lazy, toothless, illiterate, alcoholics and addicts. Casual jokes about inbreeding, incest and bestiality are perpetually being made at our expense, and we’re often depicted as violent, hateful, and dangerous.

When I first got to the city, I constantly found myself having to prove the fact that I, a “rurally socialized person,” could actually be a feminist. People were always insisting on helping me with the use of rudimentary technological devices. Folks with degrees from Smith and Wellesley talked to me in slower, louder voices once they realized where I was from.

People used the term “tacky” to refer to the way I dressed and spoke. And I know that I am not the only person who’s had class privileged, urban folks shamelessly gawk at my teeth, insisting that I “take down the number of their orthodontist friend.”

Being a target for this ongoing barrage of insults can make it hard to remember that these stereotypes were designed to make us feel inferior—to quell our sense of dignity and willingness to fight against injustice.

But make no mistake, these insults were created to reinforce the hierarchies necessary for industrial capitalism, white-supremacy and heteropatriarchy to thrive. They were meant to prevent racial solidarity movements from forming, let alone, from effectively Taking Shit Down.

It’s crucial that we’re able to identify where these harmful stereotypes about us come from, what purposes they serve in the larger context of white-supremacy, capitalism and heteropatriarchy, and why they just aren’t true!

The following six statements are comments that I hope eventually, none of us ever have to encounter again!

And if you’re a rural, working class/poor feminist who hasn’t had the pleasure of engaging face to face with many of your class-privileged, urban and suburban counterparts, you’re really in for…a treat.

1. ‘So you grew up in white-trash central?’

This is infuriating on so many levels.

First off, at this point, we all know that the term “white-trash” isn’t solely engineered to offend white folks living in poverty, right? The underlying implication is that anybody who isn’t white is already considered trash—hence the need to specify “white” when calling someone “trash” in the first place.

Further, people of color and white folks live together rurally in communities all over the country—in the Lower Mississippi Delta, the Southern Black Belt, regions along the US-Mexico border, and large parts of Central Appalachia. I grew up in California where migrant workers from all over South America made up a huge part of the community I was raised in.

Insinuating that all rural, working-class and poor folks are white not only invisiblizes folks of color, it enacts the power of white supremacy by calling on the old, divisive modes of our forefathers who pitted rural-poor white folks against people of color so they wouldn’t have a class war on their hands!

2. ‘Didn’t you grow up, like, with no electricity?’

Since the dawn of western expansion, people in positions of power have constructed strong distinctions between what is considered “civilized” verses “savage.”

Colonizers, by deeming themselves and their ways of life “civilized” (and therefore superior), were more easily able to dehumanize the people in the communities they occupied.

This civil/savage dichotomy is reinforced in all sorts of ways still today—one of them being through technology.

The skills and access required to be considered “technologically civilized” in today’s world excludes enormous populations of people all over the globe, and we – in turn – use that to justify dehumanizing them, appropriating their culture, and occupying their land.

No computer or wireless internet in your house? How savage! Using a clothes-line to dry your clothes? Savage. No central heating system? Savage! Use of non-electric domestic appliances? You get my drift.

To make a long story short, we are taught that “civilized” is superior to “savage,” and that it’s impossible to be considered “civilized” if you lack access to the newest technological resources.

In reality, what we consider “civilized” is actually just capitalism’s way of getting us to assimilate into its dangerous consumption-obsessed culture.

3. ‘But you look so normal!’

As far as I’m concerned, this comment is meant to assert the notion that—due to our “savage,”“animalistic,” “amoral,” and “perverse” sexualities—folks in rural communities suffer from self-inflicted, genetic mutations that render us inherently flawed.

In other words, kids in poor/ working-class, rural schools have lower test scores and literacy rates than kids in affluent urban areas not because of capitalism’s unfair allocation of resources, but because of irreversible, biological stupidity.

In addition, the idea that being “smart” and coming from a rural-poor background is somehow surprising is really hurtful! In the face of this, it’s important to remember that our society values certain ideologies, skills and smarts over others.

For instance, individualism, competitiveness, market economy, industrialization, and the importance of overpowering one’s “animal nature” are typically associated with the “metropolitan mentality” and deemed “civilized.”

In opposition, the adherence to tradition, ritual or religion, the prioritization of process over of product, community infrastructures based on support and mutual aid, and the building of economies that coincide with the rhythms of nature (like farming, for instance), are considered “anti-modern” and therefore, inferior.

So while it may be true that some of us didn’t achieve full literacy until we were much older than a lot of class-privileged, urban and suburban kids did, we knew how to cook a meal, balance a checkbook, and be caretakers of small children by the age of ten.

4. ‘Did you actually come out as queer when you lived there?’

The idea that rural areas are somehow less safe than urban ones for folks deemed “other” has always baffled me.

We live in a heterosexist world where certain people are targeted every dayeverywhere. Have you seen the statistics of trans women murdered this year alone in urban spaces? Of queer kids bullied and brutalized in urban public schools?

We all know that hate crimes happen in rural spaces as well. Of course—by nature of the world we live in—they do.

But the scapegoating and lack of accountability that occurs when people imply that rural areas are “worse” than urban ones in this regard is inaccurate.

5. ‘Growing up around all the rural mysogyny must have really impacted your love life!’

Comments like this usually come in tandem with assumptions about The Helpless Rural Housewife: barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen with two black eyes, sobbing into a mixing bowl while making jam.

I’m not really sure where the image of the meek, rural housewife comes from, but let me tell you —all the working-class, rural women I grew up with were fucking tough, capable, smart, and sassy as hell. They had to be.

They’d collect truck beds full of splintered lumber with their bare hands to bring home for firewood. They’d keep buck knives in thick leather cases dangling from their belt loops, and they could remove bottle caps with their teeth.

I don’t mean to imply that all rural women are like this—obviously every community, family, individual, and rural culture is different. I’m just saying, the rural women I know are far from meek or passive.

As for the stereotype that all rural men are misogynistic abusers, patriarchy is patriarchy.

There are some men who are allies and some who aren’t—and I’d venture to say there’s a mix of them in both rural and urban spaces.

These gendered stereotypes function to reinforce class-privileged, urban supremacy by using…you guessed it…the civil/ savage dichotomy.

6. ‘Your family shopped at Walmart? What about the boycott of unfair labor practices?’

Just because a community doesn’t organize through consumer-based activism or with the intent to change institutional policy doesn’t mean they’re complacent or apolitical. Activism often looks really different in rural contexts than it does in urban ones.

We know that rural, working-class, and poor folks engage in forms of activism every day, one example being through the practice of mutual aid.

By this, I mean we know how to show the fuck up for each other. Where I grew up, families regularly shared resources without expectation—shelter, food, childcare, money, and so on.

We looked out for each other. Girls and women tagged the names of known perpetrators and abusers onto restroom walls all over town so we knew who to watch out for, whose tires to slash, and who to never leave our loved ones alone with (…unarmed).

We might not organize a boycott against Walmart if that’s the only place to buy groceries for a 100 mile radius, but we will sure as hell fight ICE when they come into our communities trying to detain our undocumented friends, family members, co-workers, and neighbors.

I don’t know about you, but I grew up seeing masses of rural, poor/working-class folks show up with rifles and form barricades to keep cops and immigration officers from invading homes.

We are constantly being told that there is only one effective way to be an activist—and that is simply untrue.

The actual stories, voices, and activisms of poor/ working-class, rural folks are always silenced by stereotypes and media mouth pieces. Urban dwellers have so much to say about the poor/ rural experience, which they do through memes, popular media, books, and movies. But rarely do we hear directly from the voices within our own communities.

Consider Morgan Spurlock, with his premiere episode of 30 Days, in which he and his partner move to a small, rural town in Ohio and each get jobs earning minimum wage for a month – you know, to show everyone how hard life can be for “some people” (before returning to their swanky Park Slope home and lucrative, metropolitan careers).

And you know what? Life is hard sometimes—but we are complicated human beings! We are not defined merely by the hardships and adversities we face.

And further, we are very capable of writing our narratives ourselves. Did anyone ever even ask us what we might have to say?

Enter Barbara Ehrenreich, journalist and author of the 2001 bestselling book Nickel and Dimed, who wrote about her harrowing experiences living undercover as a member of the rural, working-poor for one year.

And, well, I guess that since we’re such “simple folks,” it’s totally possible for a class-privileged urban transplant to understand a lifetime’s worth of cultural nuances from spending just one year among (the likes of) us.

Are you kidding me?!

Some of us want to challenge the stereotypes that exist about us by writing stories that reflect how multi-dimensional and dynamic our lives actually are.

But aside from the publishing industry not seeing us as a profitable or sexy demographic unless portrayed as comedic others, we are generally considered far too stupid to be capable authors in the first place.

Academic and governmental institutions have never taken us seriously. The schools we go to are never well funded, and they generally fail to provide us with the educational resources necessary to succeed beyond mere hand-to-mouth survival.

We never had teachers encourage us to explore our academic passions. Nobody ever told us that college was on the horizon, or even helped us explore alternative paths to finding our own forms of self-actualization.

We are too often funneled from shitty, run-down school districts into labor trades where we’re expected to use only our bodies (until they give out on us) and never our brains.

We often settle into the shame and disappointment of this reality and wonder whether our community’s stories ever really get archived (let alone taken seriously).

In a different world, rural schools would be given access to the same resources that class privileged urban schools do. People like Morgan and Barbara would have offered to share their resources so that rural, working-class, and poor folks could have the opportunities to document our own narratives.

In a different world, there would be grants available specifically for the purpose of supporting poor/ working class, rural writers in the process of archiving our stories. There would be free tutorial and editing resources available to us as we work through our projects. In that world, we would be seen as intricate, complicated human beings with powerful and important things to say.

Unfortunately, we don’t live in that world (yet). But there are some things we can do for ourselves and each other in the interim.

My suggestions to you—regardless of where you choose to live—is to find each other. Cultivate solid, long-lasting, loving relationships with each other. Remind each other how smart, resilient, resourceful, and strong you are.

Immerse yourselves in the cultural work of other poor/ working-class, rural feminists. Share and act on your mutual aid values in every community you’re a part of. Learn more about the marriage between white supremacy and industrial capitalism.

Study the history of solidarity movements between poor/ working class, rural white folks and folks of color. Get involved with and/or support movements that center the voices of poor and working class people of color in both rural and urban communities.

Write your stories and support others in writing theirs—get involved in literacy activism.

I’ve found that these things can make navigating the world feel a lot more manageable.

Oh, and one more thing: It tends to make class-privileged folks real uncomfortable when you have a visible weapon dangling from your belt loop, so whenever possible, keep the buck knife inside your purse.

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  1. bassmule

    Anna, if nothing else, questions like the ones you describe are incredibly rude. It boggles my mind that people will actually behave that way. I guess I’ve lived a sheltered life. Even though my teeth are crooked, too. Best of luck finding those who understand.

    1. Fraibert

      I’m astonished people think it’s appropriate in any social setting to say such things.

      I find one of the linguistic “features” of people with sufficient money is better developed skills of euphemism. To ask these questions shows no class, as well as reflecting a total lack of knowledge about the rural US that could be readily addressed by google. Makes me wonder why the people who ask these questions think they are superior, and reflects another means of forced social divisions.

  2. The Rev Kev

    “Folks with degrees from Smith and Wellesley talked to me in slower, louder voices once they realized where I was from.”

    Maybe they were worried that Annah had a caliber from Smith and Wesson. I know that I should not be but the crass, vulgar display of ill manners by these ‘sophisticated’ urbanites surprises me. It makes them sound like a bunch of hicks. With the type of questions asked you can really only throw them a curve ball to unbalance their prejudices. After all, they are not after the truth but only a conformation of their own prejudices. So, with these six question, you could answer them with stuff like the following example.

    Q. ‘So you grew up in white-trash central?’
    A. ‘Yeah, but I’m going to miss my membership in the local weekly Chaucer Society though.”

    Q. ‘Didn’t you grow up, like, with no electricity?’
    A. ‘Never bothered running it in as we all had our own solar panel array. ‘

    Q. ‘But you look so normal!’
    A. ‘Actually I had to dress down after arriving here as it was so embarrassing being the only one overdressed.’

    Q. ‘Did you actually come out as queer when you lived there?’
    A. ‘Nobody ever cared if I was or not until I moved here”.

    Q. ‘Growing up around all the rural mysogyny must have really impacted your love life!’
    A. ‘Not really. I didn’t even know that wife-bashing was a thing until I started living here.’

    Q. ‘Your family shopped at Walmart? What about the boycott of unfair labor practices?’
    A. ‘Had no trouble with them after our local union formed with the whole town united behind them.

    1. ambrit

      Sorry Rev, but that last couplet is a non starter. When a WalMart somewhere along the Canada USA border unionized some years ago, the chain closed that particular one down. Being from the Deep South of America, I’ll testify that it will take blood in the streets to restart the union movement in the US.
      As for hiding the Buck knife, well, I’ve met some rural women who carried derringers for protection. As one put it to me on a lunch break once; “All you have to do is show it (a wicked looking .45 two barreled piece, fit in the palm of the hand,) and the a–holes back off.” Nowadays, barefoot and pregnant does happen, but usually not more than once.

      1. Amfortas the Hippie

        rural america is hardly uniform and monolithic, either.
        where I live(county of 5000, one actual city of 4000, 100 miles from any large metropolitan area) we have our numerous poor people, and about 1/3 of the pop is a lovely Brown(the two substantially overlap), but we also have our privileged bourgeoisie, pretending to sophistication and cosmopolitanism, looking down their nose at the poors…smug, superior, would be elite.
        of course, being a small isolated place, everybody’s related, and even if not, everybody knows everybody’s family history…so the above delineated smugness is only allowed to survive at the totality’s indulgence. We know what yer grandaddy did that time,lol.
        The collective memory runs very deep, here.
        I’ve always eschewed status signalling of any sort…being too smart to really fit in anywhere, I embraced my freakdom. This is manifested, at 48, as a total disregard for appearance(i don’t give up on a garment easily,lol)
        at the beginning of my time out here(24 years ago), I noticed that the local pretend sophisticates were always shocked when my slow east texas drawl delivered erudite observations and elegant arguments to whatever condescension they were offering.
        My time here has been educational for those people, if I may pat my own back a little.
        (the tattered cover often hides a great book)
        The point is, people everywhere are prone to diminish others to shore up their own inadequacies.
        the refugees from the big city that come out here, are soon relieved of whatever superiority complexes they arrive with…not least because the Rumor Mill is quite robust, and when they stand too close to the beer cooler and strip naked and roll in the mud, by tomorrow, everyone knows about it.(this really happened,lol)

        1. ambrit

          Oh yes. The Rumour Mill! We were once the subject of that small town misinformation machine.
          One of the local ‘Dames’ asked me why we didn’t send our kids to the local school. I gave the usual counter cultural replies. When she asked how we expected our kids to get along with other people, I replied: “We’d rather that other people had to get along with our kids!” That got a blank stare. Later on in that year it came out that the local middle school principle was having a sexual relationship with a thirteen year old female student. When the school board not only refused to press charges, but transferred the offending Pedagogue to another school way off on the other side of the Parish, the locals suddenly stopped berating us about how we handled our childrens’ educations. This happened back in the ‘eighties. Luckily, none of our children have ended up in prison yet. So, not being “officially” socialized is not an automatic ticket to Gehenna.

          1. Amfortas the Hippie

            we’ve seen a few of those scandals, too…none with as young a kid as that,all were at least a Junior. a coach took a liking to one of his “aides”(student helpers…it’s thing) and ended up regularly getting drunk and lurking around her house at night. he was quietly asked to leave. we even have a serial senior boy loving woman…a teacher…who hails from the richest family hereabouts, and nothing is ever done about her.
            But let a brown skinned person in the employ of the school(my wife is the only “Professional” there with brown skin, the others are Teacher’s Aides or janitors(or school board members)) even look sidewise at a kid and it’s an immediate scandal…all over facebook, too.
            speaking of facebook…it’s just the digitised version of the old timey Rumor Mill.
            …and the good thing about the Rumor Mill is one just has to wait, at most till next weekend, until someone else’s spectacular silliness supersedes one’s own.
            and,lol…there is actually a Good Side to a Rumor Mill in a tiny enclave: my stepmom gave me her scanner some years ago, and whenever she hears the sirens, calls me to find out who/what/where(we can always figure out who, because of address), so she can marshal the forces of Help(rides, looking after the kids, food, etc)…that’s how small town solidarity works, paid for by being occasionally ridiculed for drunken stupidity that would remain unknown in the city.

        2. Oregoncharles

          Do you chew on a straw, just to complete the picture?

          I, also, don’t give up on clothing easily (like that phrase, will steal it), and my job wears out clothes quite quickly, so I identify. And my truck, I’m assured, is the ugliest in town – a town 0 times the size of yours.

          this stuff drives my wife crazy.

          1. Amfortas the Hippie

            my favorite grass for chewing(yeah, really,lol) is Little Bluestem.
            I stole the “give up on a garment” from Gus McCrae in Lonesome Dove, referring to Deets.
            and yeah…I drive my wife crazy with my almost total disregard for propriety and appearances and pretension.
            since the advent of Cripplehood, and subsequent early “retirement”, I have become a Hermit/Wild Man of the Woods.
            when I do venture into town(once a week, generally), it’s an occasion for gawking,lol.
            and I admit that given my early history with rednecks, back home, I do cultivate the crazy as a defense mechanism(Nixon Doctrine)..although much of it is a perfectly natural development.
            Paying disputed(and illegal, it turns out) property taxes in pennies, and the like.

              1. Amfortas the Hippie

                I know a Jim John (and a Tiger(!?)), but no Billy Bob…although I’m convinced they exist.

                my eldest and I have been arguing of late whether or not “Redneck Hippie” is a thing.(I’ve taken Aurelius’ advice, and settled on “hill people”)
                Of course, his generation (at least in this far place) doesn’t place near as much distinction between the two, as my generation(and place) did.
                (Small school…so band and football overlap, so there’s no “band fags”…because the quarterback plays trombone)

      2. The Rev Kev

        Yeah, I knew that last one was a non-starter but the point of it was to be used for a psych-out, as were all the others.

    2. Carolinian

      makes them sound like a bunch of hicks

      Surely all prejudices are the result of ignorance or they wouldn’t be called prejudices–prejudging. What the urban sophisticates are really saying is “we’re tired of political correctness and here, at least, is a group we can openly look down on.” There’s not much worry about peer pressure when it comes to regional prejudices because you aren’t likely to encounter anyone who will object.

      Unlike the author of the above piece I don’t find other people’s ignorance particularly hurtful even if the young and insecure might. When I lived in NY one thing I noticed was the degree the natives were always talking about how great NY is–almost as though they were trying to convince themselves. And indeed living in an exciting and culturally rich place may well compensate for the noise, crowding and inconvenience, particularly if you are rich enough to avoid many of the drawbacks. But it’s quite likely that this urban/rural divide also betrays a certain amount of rationalization.

      1. Plenue

        New York City is to the US what the US is to the rest of the world. Obnoxious; never shutting up about how NYC is the best. About how they have the greatest Chinese/Japanese/Italian food on the planet (Pretty sure the best ethnic food would be in whatever country that ethnicity is from. Also, how would they know, most of them have never been more than fifty blocks from where they were born). They’re also convinced that things like the barely functioning miles of graffitied sewer they call a subway are impressive, or that the prevalence of urine drenched homeless people is somehow charming. I’ve also noticed they frequently have no sense of perspective and are often convinced NYC is one of the worlds largest cities (it doesn’t even break the global top 25).

        1. cripes

          The statement

          “I’ve also noticed they frequently have no sense of perspective and are often convinced NYC is one of the worlds largest cities (it doesn’t even break the global top 25).”

          Is true, but only by comparing apples to oranges. You must consider the greater metropolitan areas with similar size, or compare the smaller central cores of similar size to make a useful comparison. That said, sure New Yorker’s (perhaps transplants moreso) are famously over-impressed with their city’s importance, but that’s true of great cities everywhere.


          New York’s 469 sq miles has 8.538 million (2016), but the greater metro area is 20,153,634

          The 571 square miles of Mexico City in 2016 is 8,918,653 residents, the greater metro is 23.9 million

          The 2,448 sq mi of Shanghai holds 24.2 million, obviously a municipal jurisdiction of much greater size then Mexico City or New York.

          1. ambrit

            Such places are also “unique” in having fiendishly fragile logistics. Starvation in those places is usually only three days away.
            As for the Far Eastern metropoli, well, isn’t China supposed to be where newly mutated pandemics start? (This reminds me of how societies used to name particularly virulent ‘social diseases’ after deplorable neighbours. IE: The French Disease, or Le Pestelence Anglais [sic], or the Korean Disease versus the Japanese Affliction, etc., etc.)
            Yes, large urban regions are certainly “unique.”

  3. Christopher Horne

    I have been meditating lately on the idea of ‘community’. I live
    next to an area of California that has been in the news lately because
    of massive wildfires and mudslides. This has been a truly horrific experience, but I notice that a strong sense of community that has arisen
    in the wake of these tragedies. The divide between very wealthy and
    ordinary people has for the moment disappeared into the background with
    the need to work together to recover from these events. I believe this
    is an inherent trait of human beings, built into our very genes by thousands of generations of humans who have lived through countless
    hardships and disasters. Strangely, it is the most ‘human’ part of being
    human. Politicians almost never talk about that sense of community,
    and talk about family in the abstract, as in ‘family values’. Yet these
    values are within us, waiting to emerge when hardships fall on us.
    In this way the entitled urban elites reveal the faustian bargain they have
    made in the blind pursuit of material civilization- to be less human in exchange for material goods and a veneer of sophistication which serves
    to separate them from the most precious gift that the world has to offer
    them, their own human identity.

  4. Darthbobber

    Also: The assumption that if you speak more slowly than the New York/Philadelphia/Boston race to finish the sentence norm you must be- you know- slow.

    Back during the Clinton scandals starting with WHitewater and moving ever further afield, there was a prolonged period when the Northeast press descended on Little Rock and environs, and the alleedly “human interest” and “local color” crap they rolled out, regarding the quaint and backward ways of the natives was actually stomach turning if you come from- oh, I don’t know- anywhere in the south, the midwest, the southwest, etc, etc. Worse than 50s issues of National Geographic describing the assorted colorful but lesser peoples. A very little bit of that crap goes a very long way with me. Probably have a regional chip on the shoulder that doesn’t carry the class chip.

    1. Jim Haygood

      “Hope for Hicks,” reads an NYT headline this morning.

      Oops, they’re talkin’ about a White House aide … my bad!

      You just know them NYT urban slickers wanna do the other “Hope for Hicks” story. ;-)

        1. foghorn longhorn

          The Hicks from Hope have definitely overstayed their welcome.
          Time for the molester and the cougher to move on.

  5. Potato Guy

    The wise man knows that it is much more difficult to move from the city to the country rather than the country to the city.

    If SHTF folks will be heading for the country looking for food after their local grocery stores are looted.

    Having been born and raised in Chicago and declaring at the age of six that I would be a farmer, it gives me great joy to meet a city slicker. When I ask “where are you from?” and they say “Chicago” my response is “oh really, which suburb?” They seem shocked that I know about suburbs.

    When on my 10 or 15 mile jog, rarely does a car drive by and I always see a redtail hawk or an owl. If I pull up lame (although I doubt I ever will) I can stop at one of the three houses along the way and they will be glad to help. The solitude enhances the beauty of the forest, the smell and sound of corn growing, the crunch of gravel beneath my feet and the babble of the creek.

    Raising my own food with so much to spare makes me wonder why I traded the old pickup truck for 20 years worth of potatoes. The abundance of wild black raspberries allows me to trade for more sweet corn, strawberries and pies of all kinds than we could ever eat.

    When I hook up to the stock trailer to haul a hog or steer to the meat locker, I have a big smile on my face while driving down the road singing ” thank god I’m a country boy”.

    On Christmas we go to the city and walk the abandoned streets. The only people we see are an occasional international tourist or some homeless folks shivering beneath their blankets.

    Our rural homeless shelter just completed their latest fundraiser. They are building a new shelter near the Amtrak station to accommodate the city folk who have no other place to go.

    We have more jobs than can be filled. We have more natural resources than can be utilized. Abundance and over production is a greater concern than scarcity.

    Downstate Illinois people know that when Chicago crumbles into the mismanaged democrat urban jungle like Detroit, we will be fine. Really, we will be relieved. Then we will be able to keep more of our tax money to put to use the way we see fit rather than the corrupt politicians and big city virtue signalers.

    1. DJG

      Potato Guy: I was interested till the last paragraph, when you devolve into the usual clichés about Chicago. Chicago is still the economic engine of the state of Illinois. Cook County has more than 5 million inhabitants, or about half of the state’s population.

      Corruption is a problem throughout the state of Illinois, just as it is in every U.S. state.

      Are you from south of Peoria? You are aware that southern Illinois has had problems with economic viability since the founding of the state, some of it stemming from being underpopulated? The part of Illinois north of Peoria accounts for some 3/4 of the state’s population.

      So this urban-rural divide stuff and various fantasies seem to cut both ways. If Chicago terrifies you, I hope that you never have to spend time in the ultra-dangerous Quad Cities or Savanna or Urbana-Champaign.

      1. Michael Fiorillo

        Also, while affluent urban liberals can be insufferable in the their comes-cheaply virtue-signalling, so too can rural conservatives be more than annoying with their “We’re the real, authentic, salt-of-the-earth Americans, unlike… (fill in convenient/appropriate Other).”

  6. rusti

    Is there anywhere in the world where there isn’t this sort of urban/rural divide? The previous Leader of the Opposition here in Sweden said in an interview in her first parliamentary campaign at age 28, “People from Stockholm are smarter than country-folk”. Her non-apology apology 16 years later was, “It was the dumbest thing I’ve ever said, publicly.”

    It’s a pretty accurate reflection of how people here think, in my experience.

    1. Arthur J

      Must be more of an American thing. Here in Ontario I live outside a small village (pop ~700) on a 100 acre farm. Most of what the OP describes I never ran into, except a mild variant of the “no electricity” question.

      When I say yes, we have electricity, but not an electric stove, it generally engenders curiosity about how I cook. When I describe my wood-burning cookstove, the response tends to be more along the lines of “sounds cool” rather than “your poor thing”.

      Sadly, I still seem to be the only one that appreciates my Big Daddy frying pan that can do 3 dozen eggs at a time. The cookstove is the only thing that has a large enough burner surface to use that pan.

      1. rusti

        I don’t think I’ve encountered anyone brazen enough to ask the sorts of the questions that the OP lists, but as a curious coincidence a Canadian friend recently introduced me to the Youtube series, “Letterkenny Problems” which plays on certain stereotypes about rural Ontario.

    1. rd

      I have worked on projects all over North America over the past 40 years. There are smart and dumb people everywhere. The one thing they all have in common is that you can’t distinguish them by their accent or physical appearance. All you can do is carefully watch what they do and say to figure out which category they fall into.

      Even the smart ones will have distinct zones of ignorance, so everybody has to be careful about extrapolating form area to another.

      1. John

        Agree with that. The difference is where the peak of the distribution occurs. There are good people in rural CA but they voted in Devin Nunes. Rural CA voted about 75% Trump.

        1. JP

          CA is a mighty blue state but in rural CA the south won the war. The central valley didn’t just give us Nunes it also gave us Kevin McCarthy. Let’s not forget that Derrell Issa came from CA.

  7. Thuto

    I feel your pain sister. I too have had impromptu deep dives into my “background” to help incredulous audiences in boardrooms from Europe to the Middle East relieve acute cases of cognitive dissonance. “Surely an African couldn’t have a grasp of such issues, it’s knowledge beyond their ken” their incredulous looks would betray, with stereotypes unmasked by seeming praise like “you’re so well spoken and we are surprised at how well put together and researched the presentation was” acting as a preface to cue the deepdive into my “background”. Surely something in said background, a top university or private school, a previleged upbringing etc, should explain this “deviation from the norm” (the norm of course being untested in reality but rather a product of their own stereotypes and prejudices) cos you see, black people are generally assumed incompetent unless proven otherwise (with the burden of proof being on them of course). This same dynamic plays out in my own country with my white counterparts, and judging by this post, afflicts women/poor people/gypsies and other marginalized groups in countries around the world.

    I agree wholeheartedly with Christopher Horne, the genetic impulse is towards a demonstration of common humanity by all of us, that’s why it’s so sad that it now requires a crisis in one form or another for people to override their social programming (replete with biases, stereotypes and prejudices) and act instinctively from their genetic impulses to demonstrate compassion and empathy. Traits that demonstrate the true nature of human beings have become outliers pushed to the fringes of the human experience.

  8. McKillop

    Perhaps people who are the recipients of such comments should consider the sources of the comments and the ignorant banality expressed. It seems to me that ridicule should be the response -or silence- to such stupidities as voiced concerning amenities, skills and work activities and customs and beliefs. It is hard for me to imagine high-heeled workers building dams or stringing electric lines. Harder still for me to imagine sewerwork done by people who graduated from a posh university (paid for by other peoples labour, ususually).
    Merely asking the questions demonstrates deep stupidity and ignorance.
    These people , regardless of catchwords and cliches , are no feminist advocates but rather as repressive as and misanthropic as any patriarch.
    In a society so imbued with various prejudices I think it would be better to resolve personal misconceptions.

  9. Croatoan

    Mutual aid. Yes. When are people who play in politics finally going to put it in practice?

    I found that listening to people without bias, even schizophrenics, is the most compassionate and solidarity promoting thing we can do.

  10. rd

    Back in the 80s I was at a party where I was in conversation with a 30ish woman with an MBA from a top school in the northeast and was on the fast-track in a Fortune 100 company that has since gone bankrupt (the two might be related, but I don’t know). She was quite interested in the fact I had grown up in Canada. At the time, my parents were living in Montreal and had a very nice house.

    I quickly realized she knew nothing about Canada except that it was north of the continental US even though we were only 50 miles away from the border, so I decided to see how far I could go. Somebody finally interceded after I got to the the part where my parents had just gotten running water and were looking forward to getting electricity next year (the party was in a part of the US that actually got electricity from the big Quebec hydro projects).

    1. Jim Haygood

      It’s actually true that Newton County Arkansas didn’t get its first paved road until 1949. :-0

      1. Synoia

        One of my childhood homes was served by a dirt road. With potholes, and huge puddles in the rainy season.

        And it was not a farm.

      2. Anon

        While serving the Nevada bureaucracy, a colleague, who grew up in the Capital City (Carson City), told me that the residential areas if the City weren’t paved until the 1950’s. The main street is US Highway 395, so it was paved before then.

    2. ambrit

      You should have told her about your Uncle Septimus who was a traveling salesman for electric outlet plugs or covers. You know, the ones that keep the electricity from leaking out. Every “smart” country house has them.

  11. Adam1

    I grew up in a small town. I was driving 5 ton tractors down the road pulling heavy equipment at 14, well before I could legally drive. I have basically lived an urban life since going off to college and have never run into this personally but I never fit the hick stereotype even when I was a teen. That said I am quite aware of these predudicez because I know people & have family that would be recognized as hicks.

    Anyhow, I found it amusing that someone would think rural living wasn’t safe. When Igrew up I coulnt have told you where the keys were to the house as it was never locked and the car keys were always left in the car for convenience.

  12. a different chris

    I don’t know, I think she lays it on a bit thick. Or she is exceptionally thin-skinned…. you go to a place where everybody is different than you then you are surprised you get gawked at a bit? Good grief, welcome to life. And the stupidest people are the ones with the biggest mouths — at least they talk to you, I guess.

    >who isn’t white is already considered trash

    No, I’m sorry: “white-trash” has a very clear meaning, it becomes especially clear when we describe ourselves as being it. It isn’t related to any views, which may nor may not be well thought out, about non-white people. Google Scotch-Irish and see how much it doesn’t refer to anybody else.

    PS: I went in the other direction, and no I’m not Scotch-Irish. You get treated funny as a newbie no matter which line you cross. Only the d(family-blog)’s look down on you it turns out. The rest are either just curious or really don’t care one way or t’other.

    1. JTFaraday

      I agree. It’s true I became aware of my own Jersey City via the suburbs idiosyncracies only when I went to graduate school, thereby becoming newly self conscious. My Irish and Polish cousin who grew up truly “urban” in JC in the 70s and 80s before it become hip to go back might sound pretty appalling to the right sort of hoity toit. “White trash” though? I don’t know. Kind of precious to get hung up on something like this.

      Chris Christie isn’t too polished either and he still wanted to keep the Staten Islanders off his private beaches. I’m tired of the rural pity party, frankly. Also the Trumpertantrums and the men’s rights crybabies and those scape goating feminists for things they couldn’t possibly have done.

      What’s the matter with Kansas, OTOH. Still relevant.

      1. CitizenSissy

        Seconded. I’m equally done with this “Real America” superiority of certain rural dwellers. Bottom line: Don’t be an a**hole and lose the chip on your shoulder. This applies to everyone.

        1. jrs

          seems to want to set up rural people as another identity victim group but falls flat.

          “The schools we go to are never well funded”.

          As if they were so well funded in poorer urban or suburban areas. This is part of a much larger problem of wealthier school districts being better off that really has not that much to do with urban or suburban versus rural but is a function of class with some racial elements in the mix.

          “In a different world, rural schools would be given access to the same resources that class privileged urban schools do.”

          It is so rare, only the top 20% or maybe top 30% or so of parents can even send their kids to “good” schools even in urban/suburban areas. But it may have been closer to that world prior to Prop 13 (this being Cali). Long ago at this point.

          1. Lynne

            Wasn’t that the point? The stereotypes comforting working class and poor urban dwellers that they are a cut above their rural counterparts are the same tactics used to alienate working class whites from their black counterparts. It’s all divide and conquer.

          2. JTFaraday

            Yes, see that? “Class privileged urban schools.” It’s like it’s coming from some parallel universe.

          3. marym

            One stereotype I have of white rural/small town people is that there’s a lot of education they don’t want their kids to have – climate science, evolution, other languages and cultures, the history of slavery, indigenous people, and labor movements. I have no information to assess that stereotype, or whether similar ideas permeate urban/suburban demographics, but to the extent it may be accurate, it would not be an issue of funding.

            1. Lynne

              This kind of willingness to condemn a vast population is heartbreaking, not least in its inaccuracy and complacent acceptance of the divide and conquer tactics we face.

              1. marym

                Are you saying I condemned a vast population? Maybe I didn’t say clearly enough that it was a stereotype for which I don’t have accurate information; and that I was only disputing whether inadequate education in this case would be (as post and comments discuss) due to a funding issue.

                I usually post what I believe to be credible links to things I believe are true. As you see, I indicated that I have no such information on this topic as far as scope. One reads about people wanting to homeschool, teach the bible as/in place of history and science, and even the impact on national textbook content. I would be interested in credible information about how prevalent this attitude, and resistance to it, actually is.

                As I indicate in my comment below, white, conservative, christianist self-proclaimed Real Americans are not exempt from the error of being divisive. In fact, as hurtful, counter-productive, often blind to their own failures, and worthy of criticism as liberal divisive attitudes can be, they’re not recommending, say, de-funding rural schools or deporting white people.

        2. marym


          400 years of African Americans, Native Americans, immigrants from all over the world, people from all walks of life, working and achieving in a million ways, and some “Real Americans” decide they have some unique claim on the country and culture; and that the power of the state should be used to ban, deport, incarcerate, demean, and exclude people not like them.

          It’s all very well to tutor “liberals” and identity-oriented activists, but so long as this includes giving the “Real Americans” a pass on the same demands for solidarity, class consciousness, and respect for the broad fabric of US life and its people, we are on a very terrible path.

    2. Rosario

      From my reading, I think the point she is making is, find a way to build bridges and create solidarity (regardless of who one is) or stop complaining about how society is screwed up. Post-Trump (particularly in most of US media and among the establishment “anointed” activists), there are a whole lot of people (predominantly well-off and/or culturally powerful urbanites) making a whole lot of assumptions about a whole lot of predominantly poor rural or small town folks that are pretty stupid, just as dumb as anything an ignorant white person would say about a group of people they don’t like.

      Here is the most important part, and it has absolutely nothing to do with who is in the right, the narratives given for the problematic “rural folk, whites, whatever” are reductionist to the point of having no value in solving the problem. The most popular, indignant expressions of dissatisfaction with Trump and “company” are cathartic diatribes by people angry at the “dumb/racist/xenophobic/(insert generalization here) white people” with references to historical transgressions and university level theory that have no effective political content, outside the choir being preached to, being used as an intellectual bludgeon to kill any productive discussion (political or otherwise) on how to actually link disparate groups demographically, geographically, politically, etc. For a topical example, Ta-Nehisi Coates represents the former while Cornel West represents an attempt at the latter.

      It is almost as if the people in question enjoy things being a mess. Maybe constantly being politically and socially alienated is a job guarantee among liberal culture critics and non-profit complex professional activists? We are required to think that a group of people “finally getting theirs” (yes I have seen these exact words before) is 1) morally acceptable in the 21st century and worst of all 2) a politically effective way of dismantling racism, xenophobia and all other forms of bigotry. Except by a cursory study of US history (and world history) the exact opposite is true! Bigotry always blooms the most in times of economic, and in turn social/political, distress (Nazi party rise and consolidation post 29 crash amid a floundering centrist government) or under strict, exploitative economic systems where labor division and segregation are essential for a highly hierarchical political and social structure (plantation/industrial system in North America and latifundia/post-slavery capitalism in Latin America).

      Race (white/black in North America and Raza in Latin America) specifically functioned as a form of social and political control as it relates to economic/political power. Tragic how it still effectively does so. I think King and possibly X both got the bullet for realizing this (note the liberal white disassociation post “Beyond Vietnam” for King and after X’s visit to Mecca). The rural US is economically depressed, and its very real material problems are offloaded onto the carts of bigotry, as always in lieu of real politics that solve the material problems, and the other side predictably acts morally repulsed all while never solving (or often even acknowledging) the actual material root of the problem, wash-and-repeat forever.

      Claiming the moral mantle and looking down noses, as political platform, is about a lazy and simplistic as it get when it comes to solving political problems. Ultimately good political action is patient and complex. Shaming and call outs don’t work, neither do snide Twitter posts, or off-hand (or overly intellectualized) rebukes. Crossing arms or claiming that the whites/Trump voters are “getting theirs” isn’t valid politics, nor is it effective. Our current situation is proof of that. People are more certain than ever that they got the moral high ground, that they got it figured out, and that kind of attitude is intolerable, ineffective, and lazy. We need to check the emotion for a bit and start looking for the commonalities and realize that we are machines that operate by cause and effect just like everything else in the world. If people are unwilling to take complicated views at complicated problems they will not get solved.

  13. Alex Morfesis

    Annah…learn to laugh at such hilarity…it is the adult version of the kid who punches you because they actually like you but feel uncomfortable liking you so they punch you…

    There are hardly ever any natives in a big city arts community…or pretty much anything cultural…big city meaning with an actual population over maybe 350 thousand…there is a sprinkling of actual locals, but just that…

    In nyc it was easy to spot the bridge & tunnel krewe…or those who after paying two years of rent in mannyHatyn suddenly declared themselves gnuyawkuz…

    not that I was raised at the Pierre…unless one had found me there on an irregular basis helping a cousin of my father making a delivery run of produce…

    As to the bay area…my first wife had grown up in the north chitown suburbs, lajolla and then was around hate-ash in the middle of the noise with her sister who went on to be one of the many castelli gyrlz…

    Bay area…fake-istan…too many confirming non conformists who imagine themselves a part of “something” simply due to the notion their acquaintance with some local person, venue or event somehow bestows upon them some hierarchical leverage without understanding the laziness of local arts media tends to create the illusion of importance when they are simply running a vanity press scam…

    First useless suggestion would be ignore the clowns and fools who actually have the time to mess with you synapses and try to disrupt your frequencies…but perhaps a better verbose imposition on your time, space and obvious frustrations would be to implore you to find two friends you trust, get 500 bux together and just start your own non profit and just do all the things you describe that need to be done…

    Dctv in NYC is probably someone you might try to sit down with and see about replicating what they did for a rural setting…yes, they have been around for quite some time, but they have a nice system in place…they get less than 25% of their funding from grants…they have made the arts a viable “almost” self running perpetual motion machine…they put in more hours than any human should but it sounds as though you have that same spark and passion…they are good people even if at times they might seem abrupt…

    they are just trying to make that 400 hour week fit into 168 hours.

    Make it happen…

    and next time some disjointed fakeandshaker tries to fumble your peace with some junior high school cafeteria slip and slide backhanded insults…

    Just tell them you weren’t as lucky as them to have come from such a sophisticated background…

    Most noise makers will not notice that being called sophisticated is an insult…sophists and all that…

    Bee synful…

  14. Lynne

    My formal education began in a 1-room country schoolhouse which had a wood burning stove for heat and featured an outhouse. This was in the 1960’s. When I ended up at a top-10 law school and big law firm, I enjoyed telling people that just to see their looks of horrified fascination. And yes, they all began speaking more slowly and making comments on how I must have been oppressed by the males in my home. Funny thing about that: the males in my poor little country home were far more “woke,” and respected the capabilities of women more, than most liberals have managed yet.

    1. flora

      Funny thing about that: the males in my poor little country home were far more “woke,” and respected the capabilities of women more, than most liberals have managed yet.


      adding: re “speaking more slowly.” Urbanites do seem to confuse a certain form of verbalization with intellect and accomplishment. Ah well, “when in Rome.”

  15. Steve from CT

    I grew up in a small farming community in northern Utah. I left at the age of 24 in the 60’s to attend law school in Wash DC. I never experienced anything like described in the article. Most people were more interested in my being from Utah and what it was like living in a Mormon town. Obviously things have changed since I moved to the east coast.

    The Dems have successfully made identity politics into the standard of judging our political discourse. Sad that the divide between the coastal elites and those in the flyover states has become almost too entrenched to change. Getting Indiana to vote Democratic is not in the cards as I see it. And forget Utah and Idaho.

    1. Utah

      I think being from Utah is such an anomaly that people don’t ask the typical questions- they ask how many Moms you have or where your horns are, because that’s what they know of our foreign land.
      However, even Utah these days has horrible rural/urban division. The wasatch front now has 75% of Utah’s population. I grew up in rural Idaho, and my husband is from SLC, and anytime I talk to him about what we need to be doing for rural communities he just tells me that we need to let small towns die. Even when I explain that small towns grow our food and have an important role to play, he doesn’t see their value because they are traditional republican hate-mongers, apparently.
      As such, I have learned that Democrats in Utah don’t know how to talk rural politics. Austin Frerick from Iowa has a campaign that totally hits home with his talk about anti-compete and Big Ag. No Dem in my state could ever pull that off because they only know about organic food as it pertains to the farmers market (and most of it isn’t organic even when the farmers tell you it is, but they don’t know the questions to ask), not how big ag and monsanto are affecting farmers in Box Elder County.
      So no. Idaho and Utah aren’t turning blue anytime soon until the Dems actually learn to talk rural issues, and they can’t because they haven’t spent a lick of time in a rural town except on their way to the national parks.

      1. Anon

        …and the County Commissioners elected by those small town voters in Utah are the folks pushing for the *shrinking* of those National Parks/Monuments/ Native Heritage lands. Somehow the locals (as shown by their Commissioner selections) have come to believe that local control is going to bring County jobs to them. Not Likely. (This is the corollary to coal jobs.)

        Local folks in Utah get a greater subsidy from the federal government than they realize. Managing the land properly is not easy or cheap; the Feds are better than most at it, actually. Rural folks in Utah need to recognize that training in tourist services or natural resource management (if you’re college motivated) is the future employment opportunity; not a boom or bust employment doing Uranium mining.

  16. Olivier

    She lost me when she dumped on Barbara Ehrenreich for having spent only one year among the poor, because everybody knows only the life-long, full-time, committed poor are allowed to talk about the poor. In other words, the usual tired and trite woke bull****.

    1. nycTerrierist

      Agreed. Nickel and Dimed was damned effective, imho.
      Would the poster here approve if it had taken 2 or 3 more decades to write?

    2. jrs

      Yes, I was not aware that Ehrenreich’s purpose for writing that book was to present herself as an expert on the anthropology of rural people so much as to expose the brutalities of poverty.

    3. Mark Anderlik

      Ehrenreich (who was born in Butte, Montana, a daughter of a miner) does not deserve this criticism as she has founded the Economic Hardship Reporting Project. This organization seeks poor journalists to support to report on economic issues.

      In addition, some of the most innovative labor organizing is happening in the South. See for example Mike Elk’s newsletter Payday Report.

  17. XXYY

    A good rant obviously saying things that need saying.

    BTW, I see no need to bag on Ehrinreich, who has spent much of her life doing a solid job of book length reporting on American situations and societies that are mostly unremarked and unreported. All professional reporters are tourists in some sense; this should be factored in but not IMO held against them. Authentic writings by the people who have lived the situation are always preferable and welcome, and the internet is now helping them reach a wide audience and bypass the gatekeeping of the commercial publishing industry.

    I think it’s fair to say that this writer, who herself moved to a “foreign” society and now seems to be propagating insulting and mean stereotypes about the locals she encounters, while bragging about the much better people she left behind in her own society, is not setting much of an example of tolerance and bridge building. Hopefully we can all do better going forward.

    1. Judith

      Yes, it is worth reading Ehrenreich’s wikipedia page to get a sense of who she is and where she comes from.

      For example, one of her first books, written with her then husband in 1971, is “The American Health Empire: Power, Profits, and Politics.” Seems prescient.

      1. Dwight

        Thank you for telling us about the Ehrenreichs’ 1971 book on health care. People might be interested in the Health Care Advisory Group, which made the findings and report that the Ehrenreichs wrote about. This group lasted until 1994 and issued later reports on health care from a left perspective.

    2. flora

      I agree. Ehrenreich co- wrote with Deidre English “For Her Own Good: Two Centuries of the Experts Advice to Women ” about then medical advise women had to endure.

      Here’s one thing I would say no young feminist should say or do: trash talk older feminists for being older and having worked in a different time, as if that somehow invalidates their work. Society grants young women a social power they will lose as they age unless they marry well.

      I notice the young feminist did not denigrate an earlier (1993) book by 2 men.
      “The Hidden Injuries of Class” by Jonathan Cobb and ‎ Richard Sennett.
      Does she not know about this work? Or does she think men’s work retains meaning over time in a way women’s work does not? This is a serious question, though it sounds snarky.

      If young feminists secretly agree with the social construct that men retain value over their entire lifetime but women lose value as they age, then said young feminists are setting themselves up for a failure to transmit learned experience one generation to the next, making building on past experience difficult if not impossible. Feminism needs to be more than a reactionary impulse against the oppression du jour. My 2 cents.

      1. flora

        adding: when I was young I fell into this seductive (to young women) social construct thinking trap myself. It’s only now I see how cutting off one generation of feminists from the next works against feminism over time.

    3. MG

      Productive writers have to be ‘tourists’ unless they want to put out a book every 10 or 20 years.

      As long as they do adequate research, document it, and convey it in an effective manner, I don’t see the problem.

      Judge them much more by what they actually write and how it is presented & laid out.

  18. lyman alpha blob

    A few thoughts –

    Just finished reading Mary Beard’s SPQR on the late Roman republic and early empire. One interesting point she makes is that the Romans were very tolerant of different religions and ethic groups to the point where modern scholars still debate the ethnicity of some emperors because the ancients never bothered to mention it, but they definitely looked down their noses at the provincials. The more things change….

    A friend of mine living in a rural area is putting up a fight against a Dollar General coming to her town as she’s well aware that they will only make her area’s already precarious economic situation worse.

    That being said, I moved from a rural area to a major city and never experienced the prejudice the author speaks about, although it certainly exists. But it works the other way too – it’s very difficult for an urban person to assimilate to a rural town as there is plenty of prejudice against them. I’ll display some myself – I generally dislike people who go to the city to make a buck and then buy up extra real estate in the ‘quaint’ rural areas for vacation homes, jacking up the cost of living for the locals and often forcing them out.

    And my guess is the last sentence was likely sarcasm, but if not, the author’s friends need to learn some manners. Friends and family of mine own quite a bit of weaponry, and none of them sport it hanging from their belt loop. Maybe it’s different in other parts of the country, but my guess is this open carry fetish is more of an urban than rural phenomenon to begin with.

    1. JTFaraday

      Yeah the weapon thing– there’s that veiled threat I see from Trumpertantrums all over the internet comment boards. Their weapons or their disgusting politicians or whatever, because of God only knows what we’re supposed to have done to them.

      Nobody flashes their guns in the city. Don’t be ridiculous.

  19. Polar Donkey

    Every 4 years the ncaa basketball tournament comes to Memphis. In the last two cycles, we hosted Kentucky, North Carolina, UCLA, Dayton, and Stanford. Kentucky fans were a little irritating because of Calipari/Memphis thing. Carolina people were nice, as were UCLA folks. Dayton fans were super nice. Stanford fans were not nice. Acted like they were in a 3rd world country and they played the part of the ugly americans. Of course, they had to go on social media and rip everything about Memphis. Like we don’t know we have problems here, but if you want drink, eat, see some history, and take in some music, Memphis is a fun 3 days. Presidents, foreign leaders, U2, William and Harry, the Rolling Stones, all have good times in Memphis. Even the Golden State Warriors party here. (I guess none of the players are from the Bay area). We have BB King, Elvis, Three 6 Mafia, Johnny Cash, WC Handy, Stax Records, and Justin Timberlake. I mean come on, if you can’t have a couple good days here, well then something is wrong with you. Stanford (smh)

  20. Enquiring Mind

    Fear is present in those questioners, yet they try so hard to avoid recognizing it. That manifests itself in various ways depending on whether the fearful are urban, feminist or just human. You aren’t like me, I mean us, I mean the cool kids, so you are to be feared and ridiculed until I, I mean we, decide what to do with you and where to pigeonhole you to our benefit, or at least to immunize us against any harmful rays or vibes or blah blah blah.

    One technique that works is inversion. Take the whole question or comment and invert it or turn it inside out. That often gives you insight regarding the mental state of the person. If you are the playful or mischievous sort, that can lead to some fun in deflating the pretension.

  21. John

    I think both the southerner article and this one show the very human inclination to fear snd disdain the “other”, in whatever form it comes. And it is most always a two way street. Rigid perceptions of class are always loaded into the mix. A lot of this behavior seems to be founded on ignorance and fear. People who are open and curious about the world tend not to have such views. These divides have been going on since Babylon and ignorance and fear of the “other” just as long.

  22. WheresOurTeddy

    Yves, the article is spot on but the title is incomplete! It should be:

    Six Things Urban Feminists (Make That Anyone) Should Never Say to Rural People: Why Clintonites and other Identity Politicians Will Never Win Anything In Rural America

  23. Marc Andelman

    I am from the “deep north” and can attest that the frost can make your neck just as red as the sun can. Moreover, guess which state has the most incest, and where birth certificates are not worth the paper they are printed on? – Answer, Vermont

  24. Marc Andelman

    Also, to be fair, we regularly run into people who migrated here from the deep south, to escape things they did not like about their culture, which they describe as religiously bigoted or racist. This is unfair, because people who have something good to say about where they came from probably leave less often. Moreover, Boston is the last old southern town, deeply segregated and deeply unequal to this day, long after many southern towns became more tolerant. The Boston Globe ran a recent spotlight report on racism, and reported that the average black person in Boston has a net worth of 8 dollars.

  25. Summer

    A good gauge of people is not whether or not they know something, but how willing they are to learn or the reaction when they are told something they didn’t know.

    1. integer

      Well said. In my experience, people who are unwilling to integrate new information into their understanding of the world more often than not have a emotionally-charged attachment to said understanding, even if it is demonstrably false. People who fall into this trap category also seem unable to to accept the sentiment contained within the phrases “live and let live” and “different strokes for different folks”. FWIW it seems to me that this psychological dynamic is underpinning “The Resistance”.

  26. Synoia

    Rural Women….and they could remove bottle caps with their teeth.

    Would explain the need for Orthodontic work :-)

    I grew up partly, in a rural area. Many of the local farm workers had never left the county. In the pub they’d say “You’re not from around here are you?”

    And their “betters” would say “They are not one of us.”

    It was an interesting lesson about class and strangers.


    I grew up in communist Germany…and I heart all of above from many, especially left leaning, liberals and feminists in West Germany. Later I emigrated to Canada and worked in the Filmindustry…there people where full of pity, because they thought my life must have been so terrible and hard…
    I think we all need to constantly check our egos and stereotypes at the “door”

  28. Chauncey Gardiner

    Lots of social and economic divides in our society, many which date back to colonial days. As the author observed, we can see these divisions exploited in the media daily and over time by those seeking to expand or consolidate their own political and economic power. I hope NC will continue to highlight them through articles such as this, as I think awareness and discussion can both help heal wounds at the individual level and to heighten broader awareness of the intent of the speakers, and sometimes their hidden sponsors.

    As far as the particular issue discussed by the writer of today’s article is concerned, I recently saw it play out firsthand. It can start young. A very bright daughter of extended family members who are engaged in farming was told by a young male peer from a more affluent urban background that her family are “hippies”, intended as a pejorative term. I suspect the speaker is likely unaware of the cultural background or values reflected in the term. In response to her youthful observation that “We ARE different”, I told her to wear his remark with pride, and to consider whether the young speaker’s criticism came from a good place.

    Btw, the family matriarch was offered, but declined to accept, a scholarship from Wellesley many decades ago. Instead, she married the farmer. And IMO she made a very good choice.

  29. armchair

    Barbara Ehrenreich grew up in Butte, Montana, so I don’t think Ms. Ehrenreich has to apologize for being an elitist day-tripper. Butte’s topography, and poisoned landscape does not permit its inhabitants to hide from reality.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Agreed on that. Just recently finished a book on Butte and the chapter on the fight against unions a century ago was nothing less than brutal. Happen to have very distant relatives that went to live in that town in the 19th century which is how I came to be reading about that town’s history.

  30. Oregoncharles

    Umm, that last para is very clever, but I live on the urban-rural divide, and I’ve NEVER seen a buck-knife dangling from someone’s belt unless they were out using it. (I carry pruners and often a saw that way, so I’d notice.) An open-carry gun, once or twice, but that’s symbolic behavior. Keys, lots of times.

    So it’s a joke. I think.

  31. California Bob

    “I moved from my small, rural, hometown in northern California to the Bay Area because so many of the artists, activists, and culture makers I look up to have lived or still live here.
    Upon arrival, we tend to be greeted with the simultaneous disgust and awe of a character from the movie Deliverance. Popular culture’s stereotypes and caricatures of us have never been kind.”

    I call baloney.

  32. OldBlueCat

    I’m the daughter of a Midwestern farm boy and an Asian immigrant. When I attended an Ivy school, I laughed at people who expected me to live near the beach and be blonde, as a California girl. I gently pointed out the demographics of the Golden State: many of us are Latinx or Asian. Half of the students at the University of California have at least one immigrant parent.The nearest beach was over an hour away from my parents’ house, and generally too damn cold.

    Once my mother’s native country made it to the world’s second largest economy, people stopped assuming she was anything but the cosmopolitan intellectual she actually is. Some people have asked if my heartland relatives are Trump voters; I have to say that some of them are, but they’ve always been decent to me and my mother and sister, even in the old days when discrimination was legal in their state. FWIW my father loved the SF area and never had any problems in Silicon Valley about being a farm boy. It was good enough for Luke Skywalker…

  33. JohnH

    I always took the attitude of it being something of a badge of honor to be from West Podunk, a place where there were more cows than people, a place they had never heard of. I made a game of it–if they were so smart and worldly, how come they had never heard of the place I’m from?

    I think it gave me a more interesting and distinctive personality. Unlike the cookie cutter kids from wealthy suburbs, I rose from someplace, unheralded and unheard of, to stand amongst them, their equal but not their clone.

  34. MG

    Who honestly ask questions like this even if they were actually presented with the actual opportunity to do so in person?

    I went to school in Boston, lived there for nearly a decade, and had plenty of young and older female work colleagues who had attended Wellesley.

    There is only one occasion I can remember where one of these people was shocked & offended when I disclosed that I regularly hunted including missing a school day the first day of buck season in PA while growing up.

    She was upset that I basically ‘killed Bambi’ yet she regularly ate meat and had leather products including a leather bag and shoes/boots/beats/gloves.

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