azurelunatic: The Space Needle by night. Slightly dubious photography. (Default)
Azure Jane Lunatic (Azz) 🌺 ([personal profile] azurelunatic) wrote2019-02-06 12:59 pm

KonMarie vs. Me

Once upon a time, I was a wee Smol growing up in the suburbs of Alaska. I had a mother and father and sibling, with some poultry in the yard and a small vegetable garden. (People who claim this constitutes "a farm" are probably unfamiliar with the entire concept.)

Long after I grew up and left home, my father got a diagnosis and treatment for the energetically self-loathing bouts of depression, exacerbated by the 4 hours of daylight in the dead of winter. "Finally!" was the siblings' verdict.

During those years before I was able to to flee the cold dark scary bits for some brighter future, there were two of my dad's hobbies that are suddenly becoming relevant.

I mentioned that it was energetic depression, or something like that. As a fun self-harm tactic that involved the whole family, Dad would go on "search and destroy" missions to rid himself of un-useful objects. While doing so, he mostly confined himself to his own possessions... mostly. He would motivate us children to tidy whatever had been annoying him by threatening to "clean up" those things.

We took him seriously. He had demonstrated that when he was in A Mood, he would do just that. As he did with any object that the siblings were squabbling over. There is a normal level of squabble-negotiation that is normal between kids. It doesn't usually escalate to a fight. Mama would mostly ignore it. Dad ... really hadn't been present enough to understand the concept. So when an object went into serious enough contention to pass his sensory overload threshold, he seized the object and destroyed it, to the sound of two now actively hysterical children fearing for their own physical safety. (With precedent: we had never required medical attention after a beating, but the combined effect was such that my 38-year-old self cringes at a male voice raised in anger.)

Sometimes he would break whatever he was throwing out. Usually he would burn it.

Usually he regretted it afterwards, but regret didn't change any of his actions, remove any of the trauma, or restore anything he had destroyed. It was rarely cheap to replace.

When KonMarie first started going around, I was wary. Then one of the "funny" quotes surfaced, that her siblings had been angry with her for throwing away their stuff. That was enough for me.

I'm unlikely to be engaging with KonMarie in a positive light, even though the aspect of facing up to one's possessions and interrogating one's reasons for keeping it and one's unlikely to be realized aspirations is important emotional as well as physical work. The fact of Marie's history of a less-violent version of this aspect of my father's abuse will forever taint her as a person to me.
atalantapendrag: (Default)

[personal profile] atalantapendrag 2019-02-06 11:54 pm (UTC)(link)
I have similar reasons to be put off by her methods. I've heard that she knows she was wrong for throwing out her siblings' things and freely admits it, and that she's apologized, which makes me a little more sympathetic to her as a person, but no more interested in it for myself.
alatefeline: Painting of a cat asleep on a book. (Default)

[personal profile] alatefeline 2019-02-07 02:44 am (UTC)(link)
Thank you for sharing this. I have different and less fraught reasons to Not Engage with this cleaning fad, but I acknowledge and respect yours and want to appreciate you sharing them.
vass: a man in a bat suit says "I am a model of mental health!" (Bats)

[personal profile] vass 2019-02-07 06:37 am (UTC)(link)
I'm so sorry your father treated you like that. That sounds terrifying and miserable.

And yeah. I had Thoughts about KonMari after reading her book the first time she went viral with an Anglophone audience, back in 2015. (Here, with a good discussion with [personal profile] shehasathree in comments.)

Back then some of what I noticed was that she seemed very, very unaware/uninterested in the more severe end of decluttering/tidying where it interacts with disasters, poverty, bereavement, trauma, mental illness, neurodivergence, or chronic illness. A lot of her advice clashed really badly with some or all of those situations, especially her focus on doing it all in one go without resting, and putting the stuff on your bed while you sort it.

The other thing I noticed was that she was a self-taught professional organiser who's been laser-focused on home organisation since childhood but who hadn't examined any of the prior work done by other experts in the field and was hence basing her teaching on her own life experience plus what she'd learned since she set up her shingle. And her own life experience was that of a single person who in her adult life to date had never shared a house with another person or even had a pet, and her only work outside this industry was a live-in job as a Shinto shrine-attendant. So she had no direct idea what it's like to share a house with another adult, much less a spouse, much less have kids or pets, much less be disabled, and had never worked a conventional job either.

I've heard she's gotten gentler over time. I hope that's true. And I did hear that she's had a a kid since she wrote that book, so that might have given her some needed perspective. I also did read some culturally informed criticism about how both her way of giving advice and the substance of what she's saying get misread in the West because of different contexts on both sides, and can believe that feeds into my reaction to her (and also who knows what the translator did to her tone?) But yeah, this time around I've been strongly avoiding her show.

I'm... unhappy about how racialised the pro and anti arguments about her have gotten, and the kind of gobsmackingly racist things Ellen DeGeneres and Barbara Ehrenreich and Katha Pollitt, among others, have done or said about her. Mostly because racism is unacceptable, of course, but also because it makes it so much harder to either to evaluate her as a decluttering/home organisation expert compared to others in the industry, or for people with trauma like yours or other issues like I mentioned above to discuss the complexities of decluttering or the emotional impact of decluttering fads in general on us, which are discussions worth having!
Edited 2019-02-07 06:38 (UTC)
ravan: head banging on desk (desk_headbang)

Miss Me With DeCluttering Gurus

[personal profile] ravan 2019-02-07 07:27 am (UTC)(link)
I tend to side-eye any popular decluttering maven. They all get so overwrought about... nothing.

One of those decluttering TV shows had the _____ _____ intervention person insisting on throwing out dust jackets for books! The whole thing was abusive as hell of the person they were doing the intervention to. Others advertise what are relatively clean rooms as "before" and "after" looks like a prison or monks' cell.

Do I have stuff I don't know why I have? Not much, because the stuff I no longer have a use for I stick into a cardboard box labeled "donate" and eventually donate it. Any of the rest I just haven't gotten around to throwing out. Yes, my home is still very cluttered - I have a lot of interests and hobbies, so I have the stuff that goes with it.

So no, miss me with KonMarie or whatever her cutsie handle is.

Want some real decluttering advice? If you have memory issues (head injury, stroke, age related, etc), store stuff in transparent bins that stack, and label them besides.

Really Useful Boxes have saved my sanity, and kept me from accidentally duplicating a great deal of stuff because I could SEE that I already had it. I may be replacing my kitchen cabinet doors with clear acrylic for the same reason - so I can see what I have, and where it is. I still have some drawers and cabinets that are mystery spots, because I've literally forgotten what is in them, but that issue is less now. The next stage is shelving for my boxes, so I can easily access and use what I have (fabric was threatening to take over my house...)

Yes, lots of my identity is wrapped up in my books and my crafts. I like it that way. I'm also a shitty housekeeper, because drudgery for its own sake does not enrich my life or do anything but cause me physical pain.
sporky_rat: XKCD's Internet Map showing Dreamwidth, with a Dreamwidth D Spiral. Text:  'This is my home'. (Default)

[personal profile] sporky_rat 2019-02-08 04:40 am (UTC)(link)
She seems much more gentle in person and with the human translator on the show than in the book.

(It's background noise while I knit, I don't want to look up and see the scenery unless it's to see what Marie Kondo has climbed on this time.)
wohali: photograph of Joan (Default)

[personal profile] wohali 2019-02-10 06:10 am (UTC)(link)
First off, I am so sorry to hear about your father's abuse - what a horrible thing. My (biological) mother used to go through bouts of forced disposal of things all over the house, and she used to get reamed for it by her in-laws. It'd happen every spring ("Spring Cleaning!"). I've lost many childhood memories as a result, because there's simply no physical trigger to help me remember it, with the traumatic memory on top of it. I sympathise/empathise, knowing that my trauma varies from yours.

Per the new show, she does seem to have grown since 3 years ago (thanks for the summary from back then!) but my biggest fears are the way this sort of message gets amplified and abused by relatives and Personal Life Coaches who have ulterior motives.

I also agree with the point that these techniques don't work for everyone, and I could never invite that sort of judgmental influence into my house.

If you've seen the show: imagine how hard it would have been for the widow in Ep 4 to stand up to The Expert and tell her in no uncertain terms that she'll go through her deceased husband's clothing when she want to, on her schedule, and ALONE. On camera.

Yeah, count me out.