Kopf*: On Defeating the White Male Patriarchy One Foot at a Time

As many of you know, I have devoted my life to dueling with and defeating the white male patriarchy. It is has been a tough slog.

I admit that sometimes I have waffled and reverted to the old ways. But now, I have discovered a path for male[i] readers of Simple Justice to take concrete steps that will ultimately result in defeating the rampant scourge. As you will see, it takes courage and can only be accomplished one foot at a time.

However, I must first make an admission. This past year, and despite the best of intentions, I transformed myself into a pirate. Pirates are emblematic of male dominance.

I just couldn’t help myself.[ii] For a moment it was liberating—pirates dominate the high seas–and then the shame rolled over me like the giant ocean waves at some famous surf beach.[iii]

I was shaken to the core because of my immoral and unwoke behavior. But I have been saved, praise be the God(s).

My wedding anniversary arrived just days ago. Joan has devoted much of our marriage to kicking me in the butt when I have said or written stupid Scheiße (perhaps like this). This time she gave me a gift that would transform me into the image she probably prefers. She had purchased and booked a pedicure for me.

In our family, my feet have special significance. Our oldest granddaughter has labeled me as “Stinky Feet Grampa.” She did that as a toddler and the accurate appellation has stuck.

Indeed, while on the beach in Australia this Christmas, my son, a PhD in biology, remarked, “You know Dad, your feet are gnarly!” I asked what he meant, and he said I had toenails like a Velociraptor. He informed me, rather condescendingly I hasten to add, that these long ago creatures had sharp, deadly, sickle-shaped, retractable 3.5-inch claws on each foot.

Anyway, desiring to shed my pigment challenged compulsion for dominance, I hiked myself over to the strip mall near our house. I walked into the place Joan told me to go. It was buzzing with activity.

Large white women (of a certain age) and small Vietnamese women abounded. I was the only person there (that I know of) with male genitalia. I was terrified.

Even then my inherent penchant for dominance arose. The Ride Of The Valkyries sounded silently in my ears.[iv]

Using my unusual facility for sign language, I was able to make clear that I wanted the $22 basic pedicure. (Joan had paid for more, but I desperately wanted to get the hell out of there.) With some difficulty, I was informed to take a seat in a comfy chair, shed my shoes and socks, and put my feet in a bowl from which warm water gurgled soothingly. The bowl had a plastic liner to catch the detritus of what I was about to undergo.

The very nice Vietnamese lady who worked on me immediately donned a face mask that covered her nose. I noticed that the mask was unusual. None of the other white women receiving a pedicure required their operators to treat their feet as hazmat sites.

And, so, the procedure began. The water was warm and smoothing. The cleansing of my feet with a soapy scented substance went well. The clipping of my toenails seemed to stress the operator, but only slightly. The white woman next to me remarked that her husband would never get a pedicure. Despite my efforts, she refused to talk to me further.

A large chunk of skin from my heel floated to the top while the operator scoured the underside of my feet with a brisk motion and a stiff brush. After that, I removed my feet from the water and the operator went about the task of cleansing the nails. Then she placed a wonderfully scented balm on my feet and all the way up to my knee. After a while, she removed the balm and did the same with another equally aromatic cream. She then wrapped both legs and feet in warm towels. After she removed the towels, and I looked down, I was amazed. No Stinky Feet Grampa was I.

I tipped the kind operator, and exited as soon as I could. The white women in the shop glared (or so I thought) and Vietnamese ladies giggled (or so I imagined).

I didn’t care. I had been freed of the soul crushing burden of being a white male!

Richard Kopf
Senior United States District Judge (Nebraska)

[i] It goes without saying that the word “male” is a social construct. Thus, I use “male” in the colloquial sense. I trust that you will take no offense at my reversion to slang.

[ii] Although unlikely, it may have been the removal of a cancer from my lip. The through-and-through wedge resection was somewhat disfiguring and the following six weeks of radiation made it more so. On the other hand, my reversion to piracy was much more likely to have been my latent desire to display my white male privilege. That is, dominance in the most extreme form. As I willingly admit, I backslide frequently.

[iii] “White men will often talk about these things while blocking out the emotional content, or if they do connect with it emotionally, try to move on and/or stay in their heads. When these things come up, try to help participants actually feel what they are talking about. Simply naming the emotion and pausing are often effective.” Quoted from Challenging White and Male Supremacy Curriculum, Example of 4 Hour Challenging White and Male Supremacy Workshop Agenda, Collective Liberation.org.

[iv] Even now, I must confess that Colonel Kurtz remains my hero. Indeed, I shave my head bald and spout crazy nonsense from time to time.

*Ed. Note: TMI.

34 thoughts on “Kopf*: On Defeating the White Male Patriarchy One Foot at a Time

  1. Bear

    My wife and grandchildren tell me I should love the smell of balm—that it smells like victory. I hope I have the courage to follow your example at an appointment this week.

    1. SHG

      My wife once got me a facial as a gift. It was one of the worst experiences I ever had. They can keep their balm.

  2. Beth

    In some alternate universe, Scott and the judge are sitting around in their Brooks Brothers pjs, getting pedicures and shooting the shit about law and stuff.
    In my mind that’s not nearly as creepy as it sounds when I say it out loud.

    1. SHG

      I can’t even. In my mind, we’re in blue pinstripe suits sipping single malt scotch (me) and white Russians (the Judge) discussing the best size for a John Deere tractor.

      1. B. McLeod

        During my recent travels, I stopped in at the Edradour distillery and sampled their single malt, which was impressive.

  3. skink

    Come clean: the lip injury is from a sword fight won by Joan.

    I’m glad you finally ascended to pirate. It’s about damn time! Do you have room in chambers for a pirate flag? I have one, but Mrs. Skink makes me keep it in the garage, even though I have a pole and everything. It gets nearly no use. There is but one thing you should know: pirate flags require rum, not white russians.

  4. Sgt. Schultz

    How did this post not get a trigger warning? I now have to bleach my brain.

      1. Guitardave

        Aw come on KC….all your favorite cartoon characters have 4 digits per, and you love them…right?

        1. Kathleen Casey

          You get weird GD.

          The toes are hard to unsee. But I love the soundtrack of The Ride, with the video. It’s not just for alpha males. Why couldn’t the Judge have given it to us. Or at least to me?

  5. Guitardave

    Just cause your tootsies are now un-gnarled, doesn’t mean you can start playing Ukulele…K?

  6. CLS

    Jeez. Just when I get back into my rhythm of cracking jokes around here I get upstaged by no less than the Judge?

    As the legal sage Rodney Dangerfield once mused, “No respect, I tell you. No respect.”

    1. Guitardave

      Patience grasshopper. If George Carlin came back to life and wrote a post here, would you feel upstaged?…I hope not. My point is, maybe what the Judge reads ( and sometimes writes?) in his daily professional duties is not so far removed from what many of us call satire….??..Mastery through osmosis. True cynicism takes time.

      1. CLS

        My remarks were meant as a compliment, for what it’s worth.
        And SHG and I have a bit of a clue about what Judge RGK goes through in his professional duties. Any time Judge wants to pull back the curtains and show us how absurdist his daily professional duties can get, it’s welcome.

        And while I’m at it, I’ll add my voice into the “TMI” chorus here.

        1. Guitardave

          I suspected as much….but then i had a WWJTD* moment and went with it. I’ll try to refrain next time, but you know what they say when it comes to emulating your heros…fake it till ya make it, amirite?
          *What Would Jim Tyre Do?

  7. losingtrader

    As you well know, I travel to Vietnam every six weeks for a manicure and pedicure. Nobody will recognize you there.

    While you’re at it, the lady who owns the spa also owns the custom suit store. And the custom shoe store. Hint.
    Shall we book your business class ticket?

  8. Ray

    Look, the pirate thing is alright, but the next time you
    feel the compulsive urge to walk in to the nail salon for the pedicure just watch this and you’ll know what to do:

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