Thursday, March 09, 2006

No Gnome Liberation for Women

(Photo: Duncan Andrew, The Witness)

I have a question I’d like answered: Do you get female gnomes? There seems to be some confusion around this point, as the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s English Dictionary defines a gnome as a very small old man with a long beard and pointed hat. But other accounts and many garden gnome displays lend testimony to the fact that there are indeed both male and female gnomes.

Which brings me to the issue I want to raise, my point(ed hat) of contention, as it were. Having been alerted to the issue of garden gnome liberation by a cutting-edge journalistic piece appearing in our local newspaper this week, I did some investigation into the phenomenon. And what I found was alarmingly reflective of the discrimination perpetuated against women in (real) society.

As reported in The Witness this week, “garden gnome liberation is a worldwide phenomenon…a political movement dedicated to liberating gnomes from the gardens in which they are shackled…removing gnomes from gardens and either taking them out to the woods to release them or smashing them to set their spirits free.” A (g)noble cause, and one taken up in earnest by liberation movements around the world – like the Free the Gnomes group in the United States.

But if one looks more closely at the reports and photographic testimonies of the struggle for gnome civil liberties and rescue attempts around the world, one notices that the gnomes that are liberated all share one common characteristic: they are all male gnomes. What about the female gnomes? Could these liberation fronts be operating on the assumption that women are more contented to stay ‘shackled’ in floral domesticity, while men have the biological need and moral right to be set free, to run wild?


Ryan Morrison said...

I wrote the BBC Jersey article you linked to.

My feeling on the no female gnome issue is that the female gnomes probably organised themselves to escape years ago (which is why all gnomes are now old men - no women, no new gnomes).

The men have just been to lazy or contented to stop fishing and leave the gardens.

Finally they're clothes are getting smelly, they'vee run out of fish in the pond and there is now beer in toadstall so when they called for their wives and got no response they decided to get up and go looking themselves.

Debra Leigh Marais said...

I am deeply ashamed by my very unfeministish letting down of the sisterhood, and not looking at the lack of female gnome rescues from that perspective.

You are of course right. Womenly gnomes have in all likelihood been burning their pointed patriachal hats for many, many years already. And having the kind of fun that is making the toadstools they dance around blush.

Male gnomes, bless their hearts, are only just waking up to the fact that the easy - albeit imprisoned - life of garden dwelling lacks all colour and pleasure without their women.

Thanks, Ryan, for pointing out my error in judgment.

Tamara said...

Willow Mclovin
I have been a great lover of gnomes for several years now and I never realized how oppressed they really are! Gnomes should be entitled to the same rights as other people. Gnomes deserve to be honored for their peace loving ways and we should learn from them, not keep them as slaves to our desire for trendy landscaping.