Last week, I saw on TV for the first time an ad for this "Farmers Only" dating site, accompanied by the slogan, "Because city folks just don't get it." I thought it was a joke at first, that I'd surfed onto a comedy channel doing a spoof ad... (Was waiting for spokespeople ID'd as "DaisyDukes744" or "ginghamgirl" etc.) But no, 'twas for real, as I just learned when visiting their site:
"FarmersOnly.com is a dating site like no other. We exist because, the way we see it, there are basically two groups in America. Group one revolves around four dollar cups of coffee, taxi cabs, blue suits, and getting ahead at all costs in the corporate world....Group two enjoys blue skies, living free and at peace in wide open spaces, raising animals, and appreciating nature. We understand the meaning of Southern hospitality, even if we don't all live in the South. This group makes up America's Heartland – the slice of America with good old fashioned traditional values, values that were never lost by the farmers of our country. These values have also been preserved by the cowboys and cowgirls who still live on the edge..."
Their intro page wasn't as wacky as I thought it would be. It sounded fairly reasonable. Sort of. Until I started breaking down their statements:
RE "Two groups of people in America." Hmmm. I've lived in the country with a rural route mailbox address and a pond and a horse and sliding down the random culvert on a piece of cardboard for fun. And then I've lived in small towns of under 5,000 people. And in cities of 60,000; 600,000; 850,000; and 8 million. Where do I fit in?
Am I in Group One? Let's see: Four dollar cups of coffee: Don't like coffee; wouldn't pay $4 if I did. Taxi cabs: Huh? What in the world is wrong with a cab? Blue suits and getting ahead in the corporate world: I realize that a "blue suit" stereotypically represents a "fancy city slicker" who's out to "screw" the "working man"... And I'll grant that many lawyers and financiers and others of that ilk do indeed maintain this uniform and the "getting ahead at all costs" attitude. But "lawyers and financiers" make up a VERY small portion of city-dwellers.
Am I in Group Two? Let's see: Blue skies: Overrated. I actually prefer some rain in between. Living free: Please, who doesn't like that. Wide open spaces: Depressing to me. I like forests and hills, and I also like exciting city canyons of buildings. Raising animals: This is fine if you're just raising cows for the milk and/or chickens for the eggs. But many farmers/ranchers are raising beaucoup animals for the express purpose of slaughtering them for money. Yuck. Southern hospitality: This is nice on principle. Unless it's completely phony, a smile hiding sadistic tendencies, which unfortunately is often the actual case. I personally found New Yorkers and New Jersey folk more honestly nice and down-to-earth.
Good old-fashioned traditional values: This is "code," I assume, for "Christian God only" and "marriage = man + woman." Having been brought up in a horribly dysfunctional, violent straight household out in the country with a "good ol' boy" Texas father, I must immediately discount the claim that "country" somehow equals "old-fashioned traditional values." In my personal experience, when you live out in the country, the violent person can get away with a lot more because there's no one around to witness what they're doing. (And if the police are FINALLY called, they refuse to do anything... because the perpetrator's "name is on the mailbox"!)
As for small-town or country Christianity: I was baptized a Lutheran, and attended various churches (either with family or friends) growing up: Lutheran, Methodist, Baptist (both Southern and Fundamentalist), Church of Christ, even Mormon (with my high-school boyfriend). These were all pleasant places for me, focusing more on one's relationship with God rather than hatred toward others, as seen on TV today by more radical right-wing church groups. But I can't say that they helped me become more spiritual in any way at all, which is what, even back in high school, I was trying to become. I wasn't just in it for the socializing. As I soon realized most people were. (This realization was akin to learning that there was no Santa. And that my university wasn't set up to help me become enlightened! I was a naive child and young adult.)
Plus there was the "dumb" factor in the Bible, regardless of the denomination: If God created Adam and Eve, and they had only two sons, one of whom killed the other... then how was the world subsequently populated? Cain fucked his mother, and we're all a product of incest? And fossils have been found of dinosaurs. And of proto-modern humans like the Neanderthal. Where's this in the Bible's history of the world's formation? (And that's just the most basic beginning of the ongoing ignorance in the book. I personally stopped believing in its "holiness" when I was 15, upon reading its teaching that women were inferior to men.)
So I've gone off on a tangent... Where was I? Oh yeah, the last thing in the blurb from the FarmersOnly site: "...the cowboys and cowgirls who still live on the edge." OK, maybe this means that they're living on the edge of town, on the edge of "corporate society," or somesuch... I suspect, though, that the wording is trying to make the younger farm-oriented folk who have cable and Internet and have thus seen attractive representations of what's available in the outside world -- but aren't quite up for whatever reason to pursuing anything outside of their comfort zone -- feel somehow "cool" and "edgy" despite their actual complete lack of "edginess."
OH, by the way, RE "...values that were never lost by the farmers of our country. These values have also been preserved by the cowboys and cowgirls..." Oh yeah? Read some history of the settlement of the US West: There was a constant political battle between the farmers who wanted boundaries for their land, and the Big Ranchers who wanted no fences so they could, with the help of their poorly paid cowboys, drive their cattle through, unobstructed. THAT was the battle between the haves and have-nots in the 1800s. Since when did the interests of "farmers" and "cowboys" become one?
Funny that there's no "CitySlickersOnly.com" dating site. I don't know that there's any sort of comparative defensiveness on the part of city dwellers (well, except maybe on MSNBC). I think that people who live within civilization are much more self-aware, much more aware of irritations that come with living around lots of other kinds of people. And don't transform such irritations into dogma: "two groups"/"Heartland vs. Other"/"Values vs. No Values." That kind of scared, defensive, completely undatable (to me) world view.