Tag Archives: culture

Hey, UNITED STATES, listen up. This involves YOU.

There’s a new Muslim Travel Ban. It’s just as awful, if not moreso, than the previous one. Then there’s all the wire-tapping business — did it really happen and, if so, was it legal. You know, what has everyone up in arms, what’s spreading like wildfire on Facebook and blowing up Twitter. All these are extraordinarily important concerns and deserve action.

They’re also, partly, a smokescreen for other things that are going on in Congress. What follows was written by “roxiemoxie” on another site, and is reposted here with permission.

Hey! You got kids of the school-going age?

WELL, PAY ATTENTION, CAUSE NOW THIS IS HAPPENING!

House Bill 610 makes some large changes. Inform yourselves.

This bill will effectively start the school voucher system to be used by children ages 5-17, and starts the defunding process of public schools. In addition the bill will eliminate the Elementary and Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), which is the nation’s educational law and provides equal opportunity in education.

ESEA is a comprehensive program that covers programs for struggling learners, AP classes, ESL classes, classes for minorities such as Native Americans, Rural Education, Education for the Homeless, School Safety (Gun-Free schools), Monitoring and Compliance and Federal Accountability Programs.

The bill also abolishes the Nutritional Act of 2012 (No Hungry Kids Act) which provides nutritional standards in school breakfast and lunch.

The bill has no wording whatsoever protecting special needs kids, no mention of IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Act) or the right to free and appropriate public education.

Some things ESEA does for Children with Disabilities:

* Ensures access to the general education curriculum.
* Ensures access to accommodations on assessments.
* Ensures concepts of Universal Design for Learning
* Includes provisions that require local education agencies to provide evidence-based interventions in schools with consistently underperforming subgroups.
* Requires states in Title I plans to address how they will improve conditions for learning including reducing incidents of bullying and harassment in schools, overuse of discipline practices and reduce the use of aversive behavioral interventions (such as restraints and seclusion).

Please call your representative and ask him/her to vote NO on House Bill 610 (HR 610).

Why we need fat activism

This shouldn’t be necessary, but it is, especially after the ridiculousness that was Sunday’s “Dear Abby” response.

We need fat activism …

Because fat people are still discriminated against in our homes,
in our jobs
, in our schools, in the streets;

Because fat people are still denied basic rights;

Because some people really don’t understand that fat people are not driving up healthcare costs;

Because fear and hatred of fat people is so common that some of us are afraid to leave our homes;

Because when we choose to put ourselves first, for whatever reason and in whatever manner, we are told we are being selfish and unhealthy;

Because even our families do not always accept us as we are;

Because we have almost no fat spaces of our own;

Because when we try to create fat-only space, average and slender people demand to be included;

Because we are told to lose weight or we will die;

Because when we choose to reject diets and diet culture and make peace with our bodies we are attacked, insulted and rejected;

Because people do not understand that diets don’t work;

Because when we are raped, people say we should be grateful anyone even bothered to have any kind of sex with us and our attackers aren’t held accountable;

Because when we express anger at being treated like second- and third-class citizens, or like some strange not-human thing, we are told we are imagining things — and just lose weight already;

Because we are the unwilling victims of experimental medicine;

Because when we explain why we need fat-only spaces, we are told we are only justifying our “illness” to one another and then given condescending lectures about why should lose weight;

Because fat people who have become thin look at us with pity and revulsion and say, “I used to be fat, too, but I lost the weight and so can you. If I can do it, anyone can!”;

Because those of us who have rejected diet culture in favor of cultivating healthy habits are told we are “glorifying obesity”;

Because a paradigm shift is long overdue;

Because not all feminists take fat women’s troubles seriously, and we are ignored and overlooked in order to take care of things that affect “all women”;

Because even when we do try to assert and fight for our rights, we’re told we take up too much space and that the real reason we’re angry is that we’re not thin;

Because there isn’t enough room to list all the reasons;

Because together we have the strength and courage to take the risks and make the choices;

Because too much of the world we live in wants us silent or, preferably, dead;

Because Audre Lorde was right — “our silence will not protect us.”

Based on “We Are Lesbian Separatists And We Won’t Be Silenced” by jody jewdyke. I recently reread her work and realized so much of what she wrote rang horribly familiar, just for different reasons. No copyright or intellectual infringement is intended. No appropriation is intended, only the acknowledgment that fat oppression is real and is one of the multiple oppressions that still exists.

How “Cheap Amusements” helped change women’s gender identity

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The search for a “good time” is nothing new. Americans (all humans really, but for this post’s purpose we’ll be precise) across the centuries have sought a fun escape from the humdrum of everyday life. Historians, archaeologists, anthropologists, folklorists and sociologists have all looked at what drives us to do what we do.

Again, nothing new here.

But studying people’s pursuit of that fun and, in particular, studying how it changed American culture? That’s something else entirely, and it’s what Kathy Peiss does in Cheap Amusements: Working Women and Leisure in Turn-of-the-Century New York, an engaging and enlightening look at the young wage-labor working women during the latter half of the Progressive era. She uses popular culture history, feminist thought and women’s labor history to show the emergence of leisure culture among young white (European immigrant and Anglo-American) working-class women. These women, she argues, were actively involved in reconstructing cultural notions of gender, as well as heterosocial versus homosocial interaction. She also shows that the “reorientation of American culture” began not with the “elite 400,” but with the single working-class women in urban centres.

Working-class women’s leisure choices re/constructed gender identities and helped to mostly destroy the cult of “true womanhood.” Commercial dance halls, for example, often offered far less regulation and more heterosocial behavior than their middle-class counterparts; they also had lower admission and hatcheck prices for unescorted women. This served as inducement to attend dances without an escort or companion. These young working-class women rejected the social patterns of the previous generation. They flouted middle-class expectations of respectable behavior and domesticity. Instead, Peiss argues, they indulged in a world that promoted pleasure and enjoyment.

However, their choices also lead to their commodification and the commodification of women’s sexuality in general. Because many of these women were economically dependent upon “gentlemen friends” for part of the entertainment, an unbalanced scenario of “treating” developed. Treating could be anything from buying a woman a drink to helping out with her rent, depending on the extent of the relationship, and a certain amount of reciprocity was implicit. These young women’s casual contact with male strangers and wild and carefree dancing had shattered Victorian notions of decorum and propriety, but their flashy dress and those relaxed attitudes, combined with treating, blurred the lines between respectability and prostitution. Sensuality and sexuality (especially women’s sexuality) became something that could be bought and purchased legitimately.

Rather than “trickling down,” this new socially proscribed female gender-identity moved outwards to embrace others of the working class at the same time it moved up into the middle class and elite. Peiss posits this heterosociality and relaxed deportment became accepted behavior via commercialized entertainment, which began to spread the idea to the population at large through movies, nickelodeons and tamer versions of the large commercial dance halls. Modes of dress and interactions between the sexes were circulated through commercial entertainment, and previously unacceptable behavior gained acceptability among the middle-class. And all this spread so rapidly and thoroughly that middle-class moral reformers — who may or may not have been genuinely concerned with the working woman’s plight — were forced to dilute their message of cross-class sisterhood to maintain relations with working-class women. This weakened an ideology already being challenged by more liberal thinkers.

Was this all part of a larger cultural transformation? Yes. Peiss’ point, however, is that the reshaping of women’s gender-identity and its prohibitions were due in large part due to the young urban working-class women in the early twentieth century. By exploring the genesis of commercialized entertainment, as well as early twentieth century women’s labor history, this study neatly shows how the two were intertwined and how the middle-class was already changing. While a more in-depth look at the differences in immigrant/second generation and multi-generation American women would be beneficial, the connections Peiss draws between women’s wage-labor, leisure time and commercial amusements cannot be easily dismissed.

SSP

Most of the Southeast is suffering from SSP. That’s Southern Snow Panic, for those wondering. See, we don’t get a lot of snow down here and, if we do, it’s usually only a dusting to an inch or so. We’re more likely to see ice (grr arrg).

Anysomehow, the upshot is that we don’t know what to do. Snow pretty much fries our collective gray cells; we lose rational thought and start doing stupid things like abandoning our cars in the road and we have to be reminded to drive slowly and be extra careful. *facepalm*

We’re not stupid, really we’re not. We’ve just got a real bad case of SSP. It happens. 😀

Me? I’m staying in and off the road, mostly cause I’ve got this icky crud that’s going around, but also because my case of SSP is just not very severe. *winks*

Snow on the front porch and in the yard. I'm just lookin' at it, not getting out in it!
Snow on the front porch and in the yard. I’m just lookin’ at it, not getting out in it!

Female Monsters and “Bastard Out of Carolina”

The idea of the monstrous female is a pervasive, but relatively recent concept. It’s really only since the days of the conquering, semi-nomadic Indo-European warriors that the female form has been perceived as a monster. The wonder and beauty of reproduction, revered as sacred by many early civilizations, became twisted and seen as deviating from a male norm. From this women became deviant beings capable of hiding things, of being two (or possibly more) people at once, of being recombined. Thus was born the female monster, twisting pre-existing myths into distorted mirror images that have left their mark on our culture well into the twenty-first century.

Bastard Out of Carolina

… is a semi-autobiographical novel set in Greenville, South Carolina. It is narrated by Ruth Anne “Bone” Boatwright, and examines the expectations of gender and mother-child relationships; it also explores how those roles and relationships evolve and conflict. Class, race, sexuality and gender play out in Bone’s life and in her relationships with others. The obvious primary conflict of the story is between Bone and her mother’s husband, Glen, but the less obvious conflict is between Bone and her mother.

It is also a novel full of monsters. Some are obvious, some are not. Some are male, some female.

Some of the female monsters are archetypes — the monstrous mother, the silent but knowing opposition and the independent woman.

The Monstrous Mother

Anney Boatwright is one the biggest monsters of the novel. She is the mother of two girls and loves them deeply. However, her love for the girls — and especially her oldest, Bone — pales in comparison to the passion she feels for Glen Waddel. This inevitably leads to conflict, in her marriage, with her daughter and within herself.

When Glen beats Bone, Anney rails and screams but never interferes; she even goes as far as to ask Bone “what did you do?” Even when the rest of the Boatwright clan discovers the extent of Bone’s beatings, Anney does very little. She moves out, but then goes back. And after the explosive final encounter between Glen and Bone, she still chooses her lover over her daughter, even after having witnessed him rape the thirteen-year-old. Despite her motherly love, Anney abandons her daughter to leave with her abusive husband, an act many interpret as wholly monstrous. After all, what kind of woman puts her lover above her children? And yet, Anney is not an entirely terrible person; she is, in some ways, as much a victim as her daughter.

The Silent Opposition

Bone represents a completely different type of female monster. The story is told through her eyes, making her silent observer, the one who watches and listens and gathers information in order to draw her own conclusions. While it’s clear she internalizes messages from her family and society, she still manages to keep her own counsel and form her own opinions.

It is likely her knowledgeable silence, as much as anything else, that enrages Glen — he can’t control her mind and he never really knows what she is thinking. This allows her to read Glen, to decide what she thinks of him, regardless of what he does. He fears this ability of hers could be his undoing, which might explain why he seeks to force Bone into the typical female mold. As long as the dangerous ability is loose and uncontrolled, she has the power to destroy Glen … if only within her own mind.

The Independent Woman

Bone’s Aunt Raylene is another woman who does not fit the mold and is partially demonized. Unlike her sisters, Raylene never married or had children, lived in the same house while her brothers and sisters moved around and has always kept her own counsel. In some respects she could be seen as an older version of Bone, but not entirely. She recognizes that she could easily have become Glen had a past relationship continued; Raylene, more than any other character in the novel, actually recognizes a good many things about herself and others.

Her main monstrosity, however, is her independence. She has no need of a man to protect her and she can take care of herself. As readers we respect Raylene, but we also acknowledge that the independent, unattached, child-free woman is a source of confusion to many in our society. Because she does not fit the mold she is Other – and Other easily crosses the line into monstrosity.

The Takeway

Although we can define monster in many ways — disfigured, recombinant and malformed — in the end it all boils down to Other. And as a society, we tend to see Other as monstrous. Despite inclusivity politics and increased understanding, we still find the Other in those who disagree with our politics, religion, lifestyle and sexuality, to name just a few. Too many still fail to see that we are all Other. Everyone on this planet is recombinant, made of many facets and genes; taken that way, we are all monsters.

And if we are all monsters, then perhaps it’s time we reevaluate what a monster really is.

Music Monday — BFA

The filk, a form of music formed within the sci-fi and fantasy fandoms, is a long and sort-of honorable tradition. In that spirit, and that of Music Monday, the Bookish Miss presents her all time favorite filk:

Banned From Argo by Leslie Fish.

Yep, that wonderful, crazy, I-have-spawned-so-many-extra-verses-it’s-impossible-to-keep-up-with-them-all, Star Trek parody filk is my favorite.

It was recorded on Solar Sailors in 1977 and is set to the tune of “The Boston Burglar.” The ninth verse originally referenced Klingons, but that was changed to pirates when it was recorded. Why that is, no one seems to know; the song already mentioned Starfleet and Pon Farr (the Vulcan mating drive), so it’s not like changing that word suddenly made the song ostensibly about something else.

In 2003, it won a Pegasus Award for best classic filk song.

All that popularity, however, has had an interesting effect. Banned From Argo, affectionately referred to as BFA, is the only song Leslie Fish refuses to perform.

Here’s a video from YouTube. It’s cheesy (come on, it’s TOS, of course it’s a bit cheesy!) and the visual skips a bit, but it’s the best one I could find. The lyrics are below it. Scroll to the end for a link to download a free mp3 of the song.

Lyrics
When we pulled into Argo Port in need of R&R,
The crew set out investigating every joint and bar.
We had high expectations of their hospitality,
But found too late it wasn’t geared for spacers such as we.

Chorus
And we’re banned from Argo, everyone.
Banned from Argo, just for having a little fun.
We spent a jolly shore leave there for just three days or four,
But Argo doesn’t want us any more.

The Captain’s tastes were simple, but his methods were complex.
We found him with five partners, each of a different world and sex.
The Shore Police were on the way-we had no second chance.
We beamed him up in the nick of time-and the remnants of his pants.

Chorus

Our Engineer would yield to none at putting down the brew;
He out-drank seven space marines and a demolition crew.
The Navigator didn’t win, but he out-drank almost all,
And now they’ve got a shuttlecraft on the roof of City Hall.

Chorus

Our proper, cool First Officer was drugged with something green,
And hauled into an alley, where he suffered things obscene.
He sobered up in Sickbay and he’s none the worse for wear,
Except he’s somehow taught the bridge computer how to swear.

Chorus

The Head Nurse disappeared awhile in the major Dope Bazaar,
Buying an odd green potion “guaranteed to cause Pon Farr.”
She came home with no uniform and an oddly cheerful heart,
And a painful way of walking with her feet a yard apart.

Chorus

Our lady of Communications won a shipwide bet,
By getting into the planet’s main communications net.
Now every time someone calls up on an Argo telescreen,
The flesh is there, but the clothes they wear are nowhere to be seen.

Chorus

Our Doctor loves Humanity; his private life is quiet.
The Shore Police arrested him for inciting whores to riot.
We found him in the city jail, locked on and beamed him free-
Intact except for hickeys and six kinds of VD.

Chorus

Our Helmsman loves exotic plants; the plants all love him too.
He took some down on leave with him and we wondered what they’d do,
‘Til the planetary governor called and swore upon his life
That a gang of plants entwined his house and then seduced his wife!

Chorus

A gang of pirates landed, and nobody seemed to care.
They stamped into the nearest bar to announce that they were there.
Half our crew was busy there and invited them to play,
But the pirates only looked at us, and turned and ran away.

Chorus

Our crew is Starfleet’s finest, and our record is our pride.
And when we play we tend to leave a trail a mile wide.
We’re sorry about the wreckage and the riots and the fuss;
At least we’re sure that planet won’t be quick forgetting us!

Chorus

Wonder why … ?

Download a free mp3 version here.