Why are you afraid of me when I open my mouth but not when I open my legs?
HSU Womens Center sticker, circa 1997.
Why are you afraid of me when I open my mouth but not when I open my legs?
HSU Womens Center sticker, circa 1997.
Birthdays are a time of reflection — but don’t worry, this isn’t one of those sentimental personal pieces full of beauty and gratitude, a wistful and wise piece about aging, or even one of those sad yet triumphant stories of survival. While I have moments of deep gratitude, brief bits of wisdom, and small moments in which I feel triumph sits on the horizon like a ship I can see and might one day board, I’m still working on all those things.
Instead, this birthday is like most birthdays since I was to turn 16. That year I told my parents that I didn’t need or deserve a party; I had achieved nothing and they deserved the credit for having kept me alive. Today I feel rather the same — only with a much heavier sense of futility. For in 48 years, neither the world, my status in it, nor my feelings about it has changed much.
I was born on June 21, 1964; I joined this world, as Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman and James Chaney left it. My mother’s screams may have been dulled by the twilight sleep of that time’s hospital deliveries, but I passed through the same veil, entered the ether echoing with the agony, pain, and fear of those men, their families and friends, and all who possess any shred of humanity… And I have lived in a country filled with those sounds and the stink of racism ever since.
I was born white; but such privilege doesn’t preclude the ability to know how wrong racism is, to hate what separates and enslaves. …To feel the futility of such efforts even to educate that we the privileged have an obligation to do what is right is a heavy rope around my own neck.
I was born a girl; I joined this world with my rights up for debate and my womb under the control of
others men. Any progress towards equality and the right to my own person has been met with struggle, abated with state allowed terrorism, and, indeed, is being wrestled away as I sit here today. Such abuse, rape, and control by the state fills me with the same pain, indignity, helplessness, and shame as the abuse, rape, and control experienced at the hands of individuals. …And then there are the more subtle, less violent, means of control — disrespect, dismissing, muzzling, belittling, economic inequality, shaming — used to assert government control, which perpetuates the abuses by individuals.
I was born “straight”; but, like being white, I know that my privilege of heterosexuality obligates me behave as a human being towards my fellow human beings. Ostracization and inequality based on orientation &/or gender identity is still in practice, in vogue in some places. It sickens, saddens, and wearies me as if it were my own personal struggle. …Then again, since this is very much tied to male power, beliefs about sexuality, it really mirrors — nay, is, my personal struggle.
I was born without silver spoon in mouth, or nearby. My parents worked tirelessly to provide a better future for their children. It was achieved; but brief. Those born with silver services and gold flatware have worked just as tirelessly to ensure that the poor and middle class would assume their place at the feet of their economic masters. I now work tirelessly to ensure my children survive; “thrive” is a question which lies under the boot heels of social and economic masters — i.e. wealthy white men and their corrupt corporations which are allowed human status.
Survival isn’t as easy as it sounds.
So you’d think I could hang my proverbial birthday hat on that, give myself some credit for just having made it to 48.
But I am just too tired.
Too tired to even go, as is my birthday custom, and visit graveyards and cemeteries. For when I see how the nuns who gave their lives in service and faith are buried like paupers, adoringly facing the monuments of their male leaders — presumably to serve even in death, I cannot bear the energy such emotion evokes. Not even when I see that the little cement slabs which mark where the nuns lay are less lavish, less cared for, than the markers for the never-born, the aborted. Really? Are female lives given in such service worth so little that they must still be treated as less-than virtual beings, ideas of beings?! It’s all just too-too much.
A lifetime of so little progress is just too much.
An ad promoting more “feminine” fashions found in a 1974 issue of 19 magazine. Because, you know, ladies dasn’t wear pants.
Diana Pooley Ltd. must have been like Laura Ashley was in the 1980s; the option for “non-feminists” who eschewed being anything other than a lady in a man’s world. Fashion choice is one thing, but forcing such gender ties to fashion… Well, I often wonder if the Pooleys and Ashleys of the world are ever embarrassed to see their old ads.
Vintage ad scan found at Emmapeelpants at Flickr, where she calls it “Brilliantly patronising and rude.”
I don’t suppose it matters, really, if I am a “nerd” or a “geek.” But this “Geeks vs Nerds” infographic got me thinking…
First it was just the statements in the infographic itself. Like, does the “geeky” fact that I collect cancel-out my extreme “nerdy” interest in academics — does the volume of what I all collect tip the scales enough to outweigh the fact that I have a PC, not a Mac?
And what about the way they made each type look? I guess you could say the “nerd” dresses less fashionably. Heaven knows I’ve not only had my own style, but rather eschewed trends, and that’s only increased as I enter crone-dom. I suppose that nerd look could be seen as the look of a less social person… But when they go so far as to depict a “nerd” as having the need for orthodontic treatment — I mean a true need, because that guy looks like he can only roll round food against those teeth to get anything into his mouth — the whole effect is one of slovenly unattractiveness. An ugliness that affects health even.
But all that self-identification stuff seems to take a backseat to the fact that this infographic (and the sites where they sought the information) talk about Geeks & Nerds in terms of their maleness. Not just depicting them as males, but using traditionally male characteristics as defining points or categories.
[This sort of gender bias is rampant in diagnosing autism too; such as topical obsessions which limit (or dominate) conversations — something far more pronounced in boys than in girls, leading to less girls diagnosed and identified as needing services. (This could also be due to the fact that dads are more involved in the parenting and lives of their sons than their daughters; and that too could partly explain higher divorce rates of parents of children with autism.) But I digress.]
For example, how this geek vs. nerd infographic uses science fiction film as a tell. Sci-fi is more beloved and iconic for men — to the point where so many men fear the extinction of the true genre due to “liberalism” and feminism. Yes, a lot of women like sci-fi, fantasy genres, gaming, etc. — but it’s rampant with male privilege and sexism. Honestly, do the “strong women” really need to be limited to Fighting Fuck Toys (NWS)? And what’s up with
marketing pandering to a male audience all the frickin’ time.
Where are the other options for more traditionally female genres of films? Just look at the (white) male-centered film section on the infographich and note the absence of female stars/characters.
Of course, you can argue that the movie industry is still struggling from the film code which damaged films. Especially those movies for and about strong or even interesting women. But that only makes this girl geek or girl nerd’s point. Include classic film, especially pre-code film (NWS), along with the sci-fi, because that’s a perfectly “specific niche interest” and/or “academic” thing to offer here.
Other examples would be to include cooking gadgets with computers and tech gadgets; knitting and ASCII art with screen printing; researchers, librarians, curators, museum and library sciences with the other careers — in fact, where did all the bookish things, once so nerdish and geeky, go? Nerds and geeks read, dammit. (The truth is, stressing gadgets, technology, omitting books, etc. not only precludes women, who earn less money then men, from making the grade — but is racist in application as well.)
We don’t want a “geekette” or “pink nerd” option; we want y’all to recognize that females are geeks and nerds too.
When I mentioned to hubby how this whole “gender biased infographic for geeks and nerds thing was sticking in my craw”, his response was to mock me and say, “I doubt that was their intention, Dee.”
I love you, hubby, but that was spoken like a true person of privilege, i.e. a man.
Because that’s my whole point about gender bias, sexism, racism, etc.: Privileged people so “naturally” dismiss other people.
In other words, geekdom and nerdiness are the white man’s world; women (and non-whites) need not apply to this boy’s club.
This seems to be exactly the problematic thinking behind the “brogrammers” problem, and why we shouldn’t be asking, “Why aren’t there more women in tech?” or science, but rather “How do we change the culture to be friendly to women?”
Obviously is starts with including women in the Geek Vs. Nerd debate, however silly, geeky, and nerdy that may seem.
The “Me Jane” spread-legged plastic clothes hangers.
Sorry, ladies, these vintage novelty hangers were “for men.”
Because nothing says, “I’m secure in my masculinity, my sexuality, my self, and my life,” like a closet full of these gems. The reason these are the ultimate bachelor pad item is because they help guarantee a man remains a bachelor.
What I don’t get is the leopard print bikini panty. Why pretend modesty now? …Maybe the makers didn’t know what it looks like under there. (Makes me want one so I can peep beneath the fabric panty to see if it’s like Barbie. Or Ken!)
Remember William Wants A Doll from Free to Be, You and Me?
Well, William — and millions of little boys just like him — have wanted dolls through the ages. Some were lucky enough to have had parents who weren’t freaked out and let them have dolls. Some parents even took photographs of their boys with their dolls, like these from 20s and 30s.
Images via bondman2 @ eBay.
I’m sure this pair of vintage advertising pieces from/for the Hi-Shear Rivet Tool Company were intended to be humorous, in that oh-so-popular risque way of 1952; but I find them predictably insulting. It’s not that they’re nude — I collect vintage nudes and risque materials. Or even that “he” is allowed modesty while “she” wears the gloves and smile of a burlesque performer. (Frankly, as nearly every woman has noted in the Anthony Weiner affair, the less male genitalia seen the better.) But it’s what else is seen inside these “Top Secret” cards when they are open…
He has a number of dependents — dependents, not children; she has none.
He has a payday; she has none.
He has a car; she has none.
He has a hobby; she has a pastime — with places to check “yes” or “no”?!
Maybe women wouldn’t be seen as gold diggers if they had the opportunity to earn their own paychecks, own their own cars, not be seen as dependent children… Have a legitimate hobby even.
Both vintage pieces from the collection of Jim Linderman.
Speaking of suffrage colors…
A news clipping from the New Brunswick Times, October 15, 1915, about Miss Ellen Murray who threw an anti-suffrage party:
The house was decorated in the colors of the antis, pink and white and anti-suffrage posters were in evidence. The girls were given anti-suffrage pencils and the boys anti-suffrage buttons. The prizes were dolls in the dolls in the suffrage colors and the refreshments were also in these colors. One of the games was an election in which the antis won.
I can only assume that there was an error and that the dolls and refreshments were in anti-suffrage pink and white, right? And good heavens, why would girls need pencils?! Silly Ellen; only boys need to write! Plus, buttons are like pins, which is jewelry and more girl-like. Sheesh.
A quick news item found in the May 1, 1944 issue of Pathfinder magazine; with links added by yours truly:
Pledging support to candidates in the coming election that favor the Equal Rights Amendment, the National Council of the National Woman’s Party has asked President Roosevelt for an early audience for the 27 national organizations that are supporting “woman’s rights,” so the President “may hear their views on this issue.”
“There’s A Tremendous Difference Between A Pansy & A Chimpanzee” …But both use gasoline?
Vintage ad for Ethyl Gasoline, found in a 1950 Life Magazine; via GeriADtric.
Sometimes being 46 years old — and a woman — is an amazing thing. I’m often fascinated by the cultural shifts I’ve witnessed; too often dismayed by the cultural shifts promised which have not occurred, been set further back even… But it sure has been a shifty four decades.
I often wonder if other individual women in other generations have anything to compare…
I’ve thought my Great Aunt M had lived through some amazing changes — suffrage, working during WWII and returning back home when the men came back to claim “their” jobs, the choice not to have children in the atomic family age… Amazing cultural shifts in one lifetime.
I’ve long been aware of my mother’s experience — but usually from the point of view of what it’s been like to have been her daughter. She was the first and only mom I knew who consistently worked outside of the home. At first it may have just been for the money; waitressing and the like. But by the late 70’s she was progressing from “just an office job” to reading The Assertive Woman, attending workshops on how-to-dress-for-success, and actively pursuing a career. As the only kids in the neighborhood — and in our family — with a wanting-to-work mom (and a father who supported her choice and her work), my sister and I had a different perspective of women’s lib: equal parts of liberation, greater responsibilities, and increased expectations. …This could be a long post by itself.
But just a few days ago I had an astonishing talk with my mother which made me reexamine just what it must have been like for her…
She and I had been discussing how different my sister and I are (I’ve always said that if we hadn’t been born sisters, we never would have met), and I said, “I could understand it better if she and I had been born further apart, but there’s only a year and a half separating us — we were raised by the same parents, at the same time in their lives.”
And then that’s when my mom shared some stories that rocked my brain.
When my mom was in high school, this would be the late 1950s, she wanted a summer job. Her father said he would recommend her to the diaper washing service next to his auto-body shop if she promised to work every single day — not miss one day, or ever be late. She agreed, he made the recommendation, and she got the summer job.
She went in to work every day, all summer long. Then one night, she and her boyfriend — her first love, broke up. She spent all night crying, as teenage girls will do. When she woke up and her father spotted her in the hall, he asked her why she wasn’t yet dressed for work. She responded that she was a mess, that she could barely see through her puffy eyes, that she wouldn’t be going into work that day. Her father looked directly at her, said, “You gave your word,” then turned on his heel and left.
Mom quickly got dressed and to work on time. She never missed one day of work and lived up to her word.
When it came time for her younger sister Vickie, mom’s junior by nine years, to get a summer job, Vickie only worked four days before she quit. Years later, when having some sister-chat, my Aunt Vicki asked her sister, my mother, “Why didn’t they teach me to be responsible, like they did you?”
My mom’s response was, “You came along at a different time in their lives; you were their baby and they had different expectations of you.”
That is probably a fair analysis. And an amazingly insightful, non-spiteful, response from my mother to boot.
But my mom wasn’t done sharing her stories.
A few years after the summer laundry job, my mom worked full-time as a secretary at a finance company. This was at the same time that her brother, Mike, just two years her junior, was working at Pabst. My mom was paying $15 a week in rent to her parents. She thought nothing of it until she discovered that her brother wasn’t paying anything to their parents.
When she asked her parents why she paid rent and her brother did not, the answer (given in that “you’re so silly to ask” tone of condescension) was that “she was working for pin money, but Mike was a man.”
Even though “Mike the man” wasn’t supporting a family (his paycheck went to purchase beer), the assumption was that he was working for a future, that his paycheck and job were more important. He was expected to work; she was not. The price for her frivolity in dabbling in employment was one she would have to pay for.
Even now when I think about this I am amazed. Not just that this greatly shifts my perception of my beloved grandparents, who were a product of their own times, but that my mother who was raised by and living with these people had the guts to question her parents about this gender bias.
But that’s not even the worst of it.
When I expressed my surprise and shock — including that I’d never heard these stories before, my mother shared one more…
This one is about my cousins, Lisa & Danny, who are my Uncle Mike’s kids.
Recently, my cousin Lisa was out to lunch with my mom and she confessed that both she and her brother felt they never pleased their father; Danny for not being a macho sports guy — and Lisa for not being a boy at all. It was so bad that Lisa said, “You know, my mom never read to me. Not once. She read to Danny.” And then she rapidly tacked on — as if risking being accused of being unfair or mean-spirited, “I could listen though.”
Images of a small shy child silently lurking in the doorway while a mother snuggled with a sibling on a bed, reading to him from a book he’d selected… *shudder*
I always wondered why my cousin Lisa was so shy — painfully so. Ill-confident, uncomfortable in her own skin. How can you be anything else when your own parents don’t think you’re worthy of being read to because you’re not a male child?
It sounds the stuff of the 1950s, not the 1960s and 70s… If “America” at all.
But here it is, gender bias bullshit, from real lives, not text book depictions; from my family, some of it even in my lifetime. It’s real. It’s still living here, if only in echos. And poor self esteem.
Image via Steady Mom.
I’ve been listing a lot on eBay, so be prepared for observations and odd thoughts on what I find — like this gem: a vintage medical advertising blotter for triple-barbiturate capsules by Wyeth called Ethobral.
“for all patients who cannot sleep…”
“nearest to the ideal hypnotic…”
What strikes me most about this promotional piece is the sexist ageism. First, note that illustration: A little old lady, complete with her hair in the “granny bun,” has what appears to be a box of open chocolates on her lap — and still she weeps.
Above that, in extra-fine print, “Sleep for the menopausal patient.”
We’ve all heard about the misogyny in medicine; we’ve all heard about the medicating of women for all sorts of “mysterious ailments” that men just don’t suffer from. And we all know about the giving away of barbiturates to women as if they were candy. But seeing this, seeing a “menopausal patient” — which can only be female — depicted as a crying grandmother trying to self-medicate, ineffectively and stupidly, with chocolate, as the only image on this advertising piece for medication “for all patients who cannot sleep” drives the point home like a railroad spike. To the chest.
From issue number two of The New Krofft Supershow comic (1978), deep insights into gender and fashion…
In panel two:
Turkey, why are you wearing your socks wrong side out?
Shh, there’s a hole on the other side!
‘Cuz men are stupid; they never change or replenish their socks — or underwear.
(Confession: I sit here right now, my bare toe sticking out of — wait for it! — my husband’s sock. Why? I am in need of purchasing more socks for myself. …However, it is so fun to say, “My toe is sticking out of hubby’s sock.” That’s how close we are!)
In panel three:
Oh, these pants are tighter than my skin!
How can anything be tighter than your skin?
Easy! She can sit down in her skin, but she sure can’t sit down in those pants.
‘Cuz women are stupid; they kill themselves for fashion.
(Confession: I wore tight Jordache jeans. They were tight… But obviously if I wore them to school or took a ride in a car, I could sit in them. …And I do recall that men’s jeans were just as tight. In fact, I vaguely recall it being some sort of a competition.)
PS Bonus points for the ironic “Watch Your Step” sign in the background of that last panel.
Ranch Romances & Adventures, May, 1971.
Contrary to what Jack Martin/Gary Dobbs says, I do not see Ranch Romance (& Adventures) magazines as primarily for women.
Jack/Gary says they must be “aimed at young women since all of the stories have a romantic element to them.” But come on now, dude, I know this may be difficult for a man who loves Westerns to admit but the whole genre – from books to films — is nothing but male romance novels and dick flicks. Sure, there’s some action in there; but the guns and body counts are there to win the damsel, the dame — the 500 miles he would walk just to fall down at her door.
Stop living in denial.
You men are just as much suckers for romance as we women are. You want to read about a good chaste kiss, a ravishing bodice ripping — and this publication proves it.
Or does it… Perhaps I am biased more than a bit by my feminine experiences and feminist equality-seeking nature. For over at Laurie’s Wild West, Laurie Powers shares the story behind the pulp magazine, using the publication founder’s own words. Harold Hersey claimed full credit for launching Ranch Romances in September 1924 (The “Adventures” joined the “Ranch Romances” in 1969) in his biography, Pulpwood Editor. Hersey writes:
My home run was Ranch Romances. I conceived of the idea of combining the Western and the love themes in a single magazine under the title of Western Love Stories. Our distributors considered it too close an imitation of the Street & Smith titles. We were told to think up another. The result was Ranch Romances and it was an almost instantaneous hit with women readers. Instead of the cowboy hero, we offered the cowgirl heroine. Bina Flynn, the editor we chose to handle the fresh idea, built the magazine into a huge success.
While I think combining Westerns and Romances is redundant, either I’m wrong — or Hersey’s another one of these men afraid to admit the romantic truth about men. Maybe, just maybe, the truth of Ranch Romances‘ success lies in the complicated truth of this simple line: “Instead of the cowboy hero, we offered the cowgirl heroine.”
Women likely responded to dreaming the possible dream of a strong female heroine who was still desired by men. Men likely felt reciprocally reassured that even today’s ballsy woman still could be wooed and won by a macho male. (However, as always, the stories end before the truly difficult part of meshing roles and living happily ever after begins; like dirty dishes in the sink, no one wants to get to that part.)
Laurie Powers touches on some of this modernized gender stuff in her post too, so read that as Exhibit A. And as further proof of the male adoption of this publication I’ll let you know that the previous owner of my May 1971 issue was male. And check out the sexist ad on the back cover.
Anyway, this Ranch Romances & Adventures I have makes me sad. (It probably made others sad too as it was the publication’s last year.)
Ranch Romances may have been more of a pulp publication, prior to the mid-1960s at least, with fantastic graphics and fantasy fiction, but by this point the magazine was more personals ads digest than pulpy delight.
Of course, I may be biased. Again. I prefer the vintage styles more than the retro ones, and my “like” barometer is built upon that grading system. But from what I’ve seen and read, Rance Romances & Adventures is a desperate combination of personal pleas and ads designed to make money off those in despair.
(I’ll be sharing more of scans from this particular issue here and over at Kitschy Kitschy Coo as Valentine’s Day approaches.)
Picture the scene… It’s 1974 and those women’s libbers are everywhere. Before you know it, those damn women will have screwed up everything. Hell, we won’t even be able to tell the boys from the girls. Oh my gawd, what about the children?! How do you combat it? Big Fluttery Lashes.
The amazingly-trademarked Big Fluttery Lashes were copyrighted in 1974, by Imagineering Inc., Phoenix, Arizona (but made in Hong Kong). The lashes sold for 39 cents and they were safe & non-toxic (unless you’re under the age of three).
And good news, boys; if you were caught with one on your upper lip (or simply caught with the package), you could simply say it was a mustache — the package even says so!
Image via Tiki Ranch.
One of the “367 prize winning household hints” Hint Hunt booklet (the better ones will be found at my vintage home ec site, Things Your Grandmother Knew), this tip “for mothers only” advises that “to cure boys of the habit of not keeping shirttails tucked in, sew an edging of lace around the bottom of the lad’s shirt.”
This image alone wants to make me watch Gorilla at Large (1954); normally it’s the girl with the dollie and the boy with the cig.
Glowing Doll Danielle says she was “totally gob smacked” watching Freddie Mercury’s “sexy mustachioed housewife” in Queen’s I Want To Break Free.
In her post, Danielle also wrote:
I love drag queens because they can dress like women but without all of the pressure to look pretty or be sexy. I know there are plenty of women who dress like drag queens but they are few and far between and they tend to be Pop stars.
Umm, I could be wrong here, but I’m pretty sure the sole point of being a drag queen is to look pretty and be the (supposed) feminine ideal of sexy.
I think part of Danielle’s confusion here — and there’s plenty to be confused about traversing those fine, slinky, and slippery lines between drag queens, female impersonators, transgendered folk, cross dressers, fetishists, etc. (note: no mention of gay folk here) — is mistaking Mercury’s artistic gender-bender performance for Mercury being a drag queen.
Freddie Mercury in drag is not Freddie Mercury, Drag Queen.
The simple & pure existence of a mustache sort of illustrates that point — and my point about a boundary pushing performance.
Danielle gets close to those distinctions when she writes the following (exactly as typed at her blog):
To me anyway, Drag culture is as much about attitude as it is about aesthetic. It seems to exude a sort of ‘Don’t give a fuck’ attitude which I think everyone could benefit from. Ultimately there is a humour born from sadness underlying the aesthetic. The theatricality used as a kind of armour against a world that is so un accepting of others.
If I could be a part of either world I just feel that I would be freer some how. I find myself, inpsite of a vast collection of clothes and accessories, dressing drably from day to day. I guess I fear judegement by small minded people and on a deeper level just want to dissapear sometimes (hard to do with electric coloured clothes, spiked accesories and gigantic hats).
The mythical non-mustached Drag Queen Mercury, like other Drag Queens, probably would have had a female name and completely distinct female persona to go with it. And none would have seen drag as an armor but as flamboyant exhibitionist expression — that people would still sling arrows at.
Mercury in drag wasn’t exactly like Travolta in Hairspray; Mercury’s dress was a theatrical application, use of imagery to make a point. Or at least a slightly different point. And the whole point of Freddie Mercury et al and their obvious appearance as men in women’s clothing (along with other things in this video and aspects of Mercury’s life) was to expose absurdity, especially the norms of “normal,” to break free of everything — everything except that vacuum, that is. *wink*
Pepsi’s latest foray into social media with an iPhone app for its AMP energy drink is more than trending on Twitter — it’s downright pissing women (and men who give a damn) off.
The “fun” application is called “before you score” — and yes, with “score” means what you think it does: getting laid. As in men who “bag” chicks.
For all the gory details, check out Mashable’s post, “Alienate Your Female Customers? Pepsi Has An App For That” (the title of which is where the trending “alienate your female” topic comes from). But maybe all you need to know is the simple premise of the app, as stated by Mashable’s Adam Ostrow: “AMP has actually built features into its application that make it seem one can systematically “score” by exploiting women’s naivety. Beyond that, they actively encourage users to promote such conquests through social media.”
Whether or not the app can really assist in the exploitation of any woman is neither here nor there. And if Pepsi tries to defend itself with a “the app is just entertainment” it’s no excuse. The pure perpetuation of predatory male stereotypes and encouragement of such actions is horrible.
I would rant on & on about this, but there’s plenty of smart comments to read at Mashable (and at Jezebel too). But that won’t stop me from asking a question…
What’s next, Pepsi, a cave man app where you can slip a Mickey into a woman’s drink and drag her off by the hair? Oh yeah, and brag about it too.
At 15, I was straddling the simple romantic fantasies of girlhood by day — and the hormonal induced sweaty-pink-bit-manipulations by night.
By day, I still played with Barbie & her friends. Still playing with Barbies was not something I advertised; I didn’t invite my girlfriends over to play with me. Like my nocturnal activities, this was the solo-play of self-discovery.
Playing with Barbie was like warm comfort food; I understood the rules and romance in playland, even if I didn’t understand the ways of the boys around me who had suddenly started reacting to my well-beyond-just-budding breasts.
But at night, I got hot and sweaty for Andy Gibb — via his posters on my walls.
Especially that poster of Andy with his dark blue satin baseball jacket worn open to expose what I could only then (and now) best describe as a tree of hair — with a trunk that went down past the navel to what I could only then bear to imagine as another system of hair at the root… Leading to that something that beefed-up his tight satin pants. And that magnificent mane of hair on his head, ahhh... it still works.
But before I begin to get lost in teenage masturbation fantasies, let’s just say that solo-play was far more productive in terms of my nighttime studies; learning the ins-and-outs of myself, physically & emotionally, was easier than figuring out interpersonal play by myself. But I did learn much about me.
At 15, I knew the score — or at least what scoring was — even if I wasn’t ready for it. At least not with a boy. If I was going to give in — and I wasn’t sure I was — it would be with a man who knew what he was doing.
Since I was an avid reader, Barbie wasn’t my only form of entertainment. (Nor was masturbation — quit trying to get me off the subject!) As an avid reader with a voracious appetite for books, my parents let me read freely from anything on the bookshelves at home and at the library. I hadn’t needed my parents’ permission for any reading material since what, I was 6, 7? I read what I wanted, and asked questions when I needed to.
For example, when I was about 10 I read a mystery book which presented a mystery it hadn’t intended. I forget the title and author, but the passage went like this: “and then he threw the flaming faggot into the fire.” Since the only definition for ‘faggot’ I knew was the same for ‘gay’ and ‘queer’ (hey folks, it was 1974, and folks were ‘out’ in theory even if I didn’t know anyone personally); I was at a loss. How could a man who was alone throw another man into a fire? And if there was someone around, why hadn’t he been mentioned earlier? Shouldn’t there have been some sort of exchange or motive? Was it just bad writing?
Book in hand, I approached my mother, showed her the passage and asked for help. How she kept a straight face (no pun intended) while explaining that ‘faggot’ was an English word for cigarette, I’ll never know… But I do know that not only had she helped me with my vocabulary but I helped her by letting her know what I knew. That’s what parenting is all about, yes?
So, flash forward five years to me at 15 again. I dragged myself away from Andy Gibb’s gaze, left Babs alone (that’s not a euphemism; I refer again to the classic fashion doll), and look for a book on my parents’ book shelf.
A title caught my eye, The Summer of ’42 — something about it was familiar. I remembered vaguely the book making news… Something about sex & banning the book… Hmm, I thought, I hope it’s not as dumb as Catcher in the Rye. (That book did nothing for me, sorry.) But curiosity won, and I took Summer of ’42 to my room and read it.
The book was well-written, but it was from the point of view of a boy, which I found faintly disinteresting. A group of boys who want to get laid, gee, that was news to a 15 year old girl with big boobs. But I hung with it (to date, I’ve only quit reading 3 books — I’m a girl who believes in commitment), and I learned a few things.
Like Hermie’s date with Aggie. Hermie thinks he’s getting lucky by touching her breast — a deformed breast lacking any nipple — only to discover later that he’d been fondling and groping her shoulder. (Hey, Andy Gibb would never, ever, have made that mistake!) This only confirmed my belief that boys were stupid. They were in such a rush, they missed pretty basic stuff. Idiots.
But at the end of the book, the cumulative lessons learned left me once again surprised: I’d read another banned book that left me wondering why it would need to be banned. Frankly, I still am.
Sure, Hermie (an under-age boy) has sex with an older (adult) woman; but it’s depressing. It’s not erotic. Nor is it abusive or crude. In fact, it scared me about my fantasies about Mr. Gibb. I mean Hermie was in love, head over heels in love — ga-ga — and after what he thinks is such a beautiful moment, this woman cries and leaves him. Sure, she was vulnerable with her husband’s death and all, but clearly, she didn’t want some kid. Ouch. And hey, Hermie’s got feelings! Who knew boys had feelings?
This was not some sex-filled-romp of adolescence. This was not some titillating erotic entertainment piece. This was heartbreaking. Even at 15, a never-been-kissed-by-a-boy girl, I recognized the agony of misplaced virginity. I knew that a first time, a first love, a first f***, was sacred. This wasn’t some fodder for a solo-f***-fest, some sensationalized erotic entertainment — far from it. It was a warning. Not only were young boys not practiced enough to find a boob, but they were immature enough to not know they should protect their hearts. While I felt that I would fare better in the groping department, I knew I was likely as lame in matters of the heart.
Not long after, Barbie was put away and didn’t see sunlight until we had a garage sale. I had mastered what I needed to know: romance was a fickle bitch, boys could indeed be hurt too, and romance could be as plastic — as one-sided — as a fashion doll.
I still masturbated to images of Andy, but I no longer romanticized meeting him after a concert and that he’d fall in love with me. It was just sex — just sex in my mind. And it was safer for me at that time to leave it at that. Too bad Hermie hadn’t been that self aware, hadn’t protected himself… And no wonder the older woman who should have known better, but was so affected by her own broken heart she couldn’t think straight, left town asap.
I grew up quite a bit reading Summer of ’42, and I likely saved myself some pain. I’m not saying I mad no mistakes; my life is a character-building exercise. But I made less mistakes, less painful ones. I have Herman Raucher to thank for that. And my parents — for they let me read.
Just last week I asked my mom if she knew that I had read Summer of ’42; yes, she had. I asked her if she was, well, creeped out by it. Her reply? “No. You always came to us if you had questions. …It was a sad story, wasn’t it?”
Yeah mom, it was sad. Sadder still to know that some kids weren’t allowed to read it. Thank you, mom and dad, for being good parents.
Epilogue: Some kids and adults are still not allowed to read or view Summer of ’42 because it has been banned from their libraries. Or they’ve been told to avoid such ‘horrible’ works. I can’t speak for the film, but if you get a chance, read Summer of ’42. It might be too late to save yourself from past mistakes, but it’s never too late to learn something.
Ebonya Washingon’s paper, Female Socialization: How Daughters Affect Their Legislator Fathers’ Voting on Women’s Issues, was published in the American Economic Review (2008, 98, 1, 311-332). Washington, Assistant Professor of Economics at Yale, describes her illuminating work this way:
Parenting daughters, sociologists have shown, increases feminist sympathies. I test the hypothesis that children, much like neighbors or peers, can influence parental behavior. I demonstrate that conditional on total number of children, each daughter increases a congress person’s propensity to vote liberally, particularly on reproductive rights issues. The results identify an important (and previously omitted) explanatory variable in the literature on congressional decision making. Additionally the paper highlights the relevance of child to parent behavioral influence.
If you aren’t sure yet that you’d like to take the time to read Washington’s paper (the link to the PDF is above), Les Picker, of the of National Bureau of Economic Research, explains it:
How Daughters Affect Their Legislator Fathers’ Voting on Women’s Issues
“Parenting an additional female child increases the propensity of a member of Congress to vote liberally on women’s issues, particularly reproductive rights.”
Economists have long concerned themselves with environmental influences on an individual’s beliefs and behaviors. There has been significant research done on the effects of environmental factors such as neighborhood, peers, parents, and siblings on such behaviors as educational attainment, welfare use, and marriage. The idea that family, and in particular children, can influence parental behavior seems obvious. In fact, psychologists have shown that parenting daughters will increase the parents’ feminist sympathies. However, among economists, the concept of children’s influence on parents has been neglected.
In Female Socialization: How Daughters Affect Their Legislator Fathers’ Voting on Women’s Issues (NBER Working Paper No. 11924), author Ebonya Washington considers whether children can influence parental behavior outside of the household, in the way that neighbors and peers continue to exert influence over an individual’s behavior even when the individual is not in the presence of the neighbor or the peer. The author chooses to examine attitudinal shifts in the political arena, asking whether parenting daughters increases a Congressperson’s propensity to vote liberally on bills affecting women’s issues. Using Congressional voting record scores compiled by the National Organization of Women (NOW) and the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC), Washington finds that the presence of female children is a positive and significant predictor of voting on women’s issues.
By turning to the universe of votes recorded in the 105th Congress, she demonstrates that the influence of daughters is most prevalent on a women’s issue for which gender differences are small: reproductive rights. The concentration of the daughter effect in the reproductive rights arena is not surprising, given that past research has demonstrated a link between parenting daughters and liberal beliefs on women’s issues. Reproductive rights is an issue that is thought of as uniquely female; for those voting on reproductive rights, having females in their lives would be particularly salient. A second reason for the pattern of the daughter effect is that reproductive rights are a moral issue. Previous research has shown that legislators are subject to less party pressure and are therefore more free to vote their own views on moral issues.
Washington finds that, conditional on number of children, parenting an additional female child increases the propensity of a member of Congress to vote liberally on women’s issues, particularly reproductive rights. Such a voting pattern does not seem to be explained away by constituency preferences, suggesting not only that parenting daughters affects preferences, but also that those personal preferences affect legislative behavior.
These results suggest that there may be other reverse causalities in the parental/child attitude relationship that should be explored. The results also have a bearing on the body of research on Congressional voting. This paper not only provides a robustness check on the finding that ideology affects legislative voting, it also serves to identify an additional component of that ideology: child gender composition.
That September/October issue of Psychology Today is chock-full of incredible information on relationships. On page 45, an article by Jay Dixit examines how men & women remember and count their sexual partners.
Conventional wisdom tells us that men inflate their numbers, while women demur their digits — and according to this article, that’s true. But why? Are we both lying to look better, with men trying to project their stud status and women trying to protect their reputations — or their lovers’ feelings?
Norman Brown, a psychologist at the University of Alberta (who finds that American men report an an average of 18 while women report an average of just 5), says it’s not simply a matter of lying. “It has to do with self-presentation, estimation, and memory.”
Women are more likely to “just know,” or to have a tally somewhere, a method psychologists call “notches on the bedpost.” Women are also more likely to use enumeration (“Let’s see, Dave, Tarik, that guy from the gym…”), which produces underestimates, since people forget instances.
Men are more likely to use rough approximation (“Jeeze, I don’t know, like maybe 50?”) or rate-based estimates (“Let’s see, one a month for the past five years…”) — a method that produces overestimates.
But the gender discrepancy isn’t just a matter of poor counting either; the survey method itself matters.
Extremely sexually active women downgrade phone estimates compared to onine. (Men don’t.)
While the article doesn’t expound, I’m guessing vulnerability and anonymity are key here.
Another factor is undersampling prostitutes, who don’t get included in surveys due to “lifestyle issues” — they’re not in the phone book and they aren’t often home during dinner hours.
This is especially important, in my mind, because male clients are included in the surveys — and surely such professional interactions inflate their numbers. (Enlarge scan below to see evidence of this in male celebrities’ self-proclaimed numbers — which, by the way, does not include female celebrities. Arg!)
Surprisingly, men base their sexual partner count on the overheard comments of others — lowering their count to match conservative opinions, raising their count to match permissive sentiments. Women who overhear such conversations are unaffected.
I cannot but help to wonder if it this sheep mentality on the behalf of males which dictates a knee-jerk response to the “moral majority” — men clearly are more insecure and willing to submit to conservative cultural conformity (in word, in preaching; not in deed), and this must drive much of our current politics and societal conversation (including the control of women who aren’t affected by such espoused norms).
The article ends with more familiar territory; in which men are more likely to inflate their numbers when the researcher is female, even though the research shows that the more sex partners a man has had, the less attractive he seems.
Wouldn’t it just be simpler if men just resisted the urge to do or say anything to get laid? It doesn’t work anyway.
For the past several years, hubby has tried to sell his Castle of Greyskull at our rummage sales — and every time I have whined.
It’s not that I’m so very protective of his childhood memories that I would second-guess what he ought to part with (and, frankly, he’s sold plenty of his original He-Man collectibles); but I wanted that castle.
It’s not that I have any childhood memories connected to He-Man or that castle either. In the 80’s I was out wearing skanky Madonna fashions — and, yes, that was far more appropriate for a young woman in her 20’s than playing with Mattel’s He-Man toys &/or watching He-Man and the Masters of the Universe; I won’t apologize for it.
But something about that plastic castle intrigued me…
Maybe it’s because I was a huge Thundarr The Barbarian fan — and we never got no stinkin’ toys. Or maybe it’s because He-Man’s castle was so much cooler than any playsets Babs had. (Other than that 1970’s Barbie Country Camper — which my BFF Heidi and I used with her cat’s kittens, filling the sink with kitten food, and driving tiny sleeping kittens up and down the block — Barbie’s toys sucked.)
Anyway, every year that hubby dragged the 1980’s Castle of Greyskull up from the basement I whined that I wanted it; but hubby wanted the money more.
I think it was his way of punishing me for my perpetual yanking his chain by calling action figures “dolls.” And once, when he asked me what I’d do with the castle, I responded that I’d put tea light candles in it and set it in the window for Halloween; that idea received a sneer.
So every year that the castle went up for sale & didn’t sell (even at $10?!), hubby returned it to the basement for the next sale. That is until this year, when my 9 year old son saw it — really saw it.
The boy had walked right past it sitting there on the lawn, and even shrugged it off when I pointed it out at previous sales. But this year, when Hunter spotted the castle, his eyes grew into the proverbial saucers, and he whispered that boy-ish “whoa” of being deeply impressed. His little boy wonder plucked my husband’s heartstrings in a way my wonder had not, and the boy ended up with the toy. Even more than that, hubby went prowling through other boxes (those set out at the rummage and others in the basement) for more of the He-Man (and other 80’s toy) stuff.
I don’t know who was more excited — Hunter or me. (And hubby certainly enjoyed giving Hunter, who’d never seen the He-Man cartoons, the scoop on just who was who in He-Man’s world.)
The next day, when hubby went to work, Hunter and I played with the Castle of Greyskull and the He-Man toys.
At first, my son was thrilled with the idea that I would play “boy stuff” with him. (Let’s be honest, moms, there’s a limit to how long we can push cars around — let alone make car noises that satisfy our sons; so boys too-quickly learn to play without us; and we are a bit relieved.) But…
I sat with Hunter, surrounded by He-Man folk and assorted paraphernalia. I asked which guys I could play with — and was given two of the bad guys. There was a three second pause… An awkward pause. I suddenly realized I was going to have to do battle — I, the non-violent-preaching-mom, was going to have to make my bad dudes fight his good guys. Could I do it? I don’t know for certain, but I’m pretty sure my son was thinking the same thing… And I knew I had better start playing before both of us freaked-out from the pressure.
So I started with what I thought was a logical place: I had my two guys talk to each other.
Hunter just stared at me, his He-Man action figures limp in his hands.
Nervous, I just kept going on — thinking, like I always do, that I can talk my way out of anything. Realizing I needed to put some action into my action figures, I began to make my bad guys argue about who’s idea for getting into He-Man’s lair was better — and then fight. I looked up and saw Hunter just staring at my hands making my guys wrestle and call each other stupid.
Like a television narrator I said, “Now, while they’re busy fighting, it might be a good time to capture them.” Hunter jumped in with his guy to snag one of my guys (while my second guy got away). Hunter’s capture of my guy was my personal rescue; it was no longer some lame girlie theatre performance of one. I don’t know what it really became, this playing He-Man with mom thing — at least not in Hunter’s eyes… He hasn’t invited me to play again.
But I have hope.
Anyway, the Castle of Greyskull is indeed way cooler than any Barbie house. Instead of blow-up and other plastic furniture, sticker home decor (which has to go in the place the instruction sheet says, or else it won’t be perfect!), and vinyl window scenes, He-Man’s castle has real windows, look-outs, and functional pieces, which, while admittedly for violent purposes, make the castle fun to play with.
In fact, just the sticker-carpet-covered trapdoor would have improved any of Bab’s residences; triple the fun factor if Barbie’s Dream House had had a dungeon. (I’m not saying what I would have done to Ken there… I’m just saying it would have been more fun.)
And I guess that’s the point about these old He-Man toys — they just looked inherently cool. I had no knowledge of He-Man, nether had my son; we didn’t even have the original toy packaging to sell us on it or the mythology. But we both just knew He-Man’s world was cool and fun to play with. Even if we need more practice at figuring out how to play it together.
For the first time in my life I wished I’d have been a kid in the 80’s… Well, at least they could have given us Thundarr action figures and playsets. Then I might have been better prepared to play with my son.
Then again, I think Thundarr would kick He-Man’s ass.
A recent study reports that today, in 2009, 71% of Americans think women should take their spouses name after marriage — and half of the respondents said the act should be a legal requirement!
Researchers from Indiana University and University of Utah say these findings come despite a clear shift to more gender-neutral language. “The figures were a bit sobering for us because there seems to be change in so many areas. If names are a core aspect of our identity, this is important,” said Brian Powell, professor of sociology at IU Bloomington. “There are all these reports and indicators that families are changing, that men are contributing more, that we’re moving toward a more equal family, yet there’s no indication that we’re seeing a similar move to equality when it comes to names.”
Laura Hamilton, the Indiana University associate professor who lead study, was interviewed at NYDailyNews:
When the respondents were asked why they felt women should change their name after the wedding, Hamilton says, “They told us that women should lose their own identity when they marry and become a part of the man and his family. This was a reason given by many.”
Other respondents said they felt the marital name change was essential for religious reasons or as a practical matter.
“They said the mailman would get confused and that society wouldn’t function as well if women did not change their name,” Hamilton says.
Americans who feel that women should take their husband’s last name also tend to be conservative in other areas, according to Hamilton.
“Asked if they thought of a lesbian couple as a family, those who believe that women should take their husband’s name are less likely to say yes,” she says. “If you’re more liberal about the name change issue, you tend to include a larger population in the definition of family.”
Research done at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health Centre for Prevention Science in London, Canada, reveals that a course on dating violence and healthy relationships may provide benefits for high school students, particularly boys.
According to ModernMedicine.com:
David A. Wolfe, Ph.D., of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health Centre for Prevention Science in London, Canada, and colleagues analyzed data from 1,722 ninth-grade students attending schools that were randomly assigned to the intervention or to serve as controls. The intervention was a 21-lesson program led by teachers, integrating dating violence prevention with core lessons about sexual health, substance abuse prevention and healthy relationships.
After 2.5 years, the researchers found that physical dating violence was higher in control versus intervention students (adjusted odds ratio, 2.42). Although boys in intervention schools were less likely than the controls to engage in dating violence, girls in both groups had similar physical dating violence rates. Condom use was higher among sexually active boys in intervention schools (67.9 versus 58.6 percent).
“We found support for the hypothesis that teaching youth about healthy relationships and ways to avoid physical dating violence in Grade 9 Health classes would reduce physical dating violence 2.5 years later, but this effect may be limited to boys,” the authors write. “Although overall rates of substance use and peer violence were unaffected by the intervention, exploratory analyses indicated that boys in the intervention schools reported safer sexual practices (indicated by always using condoms).”
Before I say anything else, let me give a great big “Hooray!” that more young men were using condoms!
And a giant “Wo0t!” as the kids would say, that the boys were less likely to be involved in dating violence.
But isn’t it interesting that while the boys in the class were less likely to participate in dating violence, the girls in class were still experiencing the same amount of dating violence…
That sorta changes that “Wo0t!” to a “Shoot.”
Do we conclude that there was some gender bias in teaching &/or course work, and so the girls didn’t learn or accept the information as readily as the boys?
Do we conclude that a large number of the girls date boys outside those classes — and that the girls “knew better” but in the intimidation of the moment(s), they fell prey to boys with a more predatory nature?
Are there just a few bad boys dating all the girls?
Or do we conclude there is some sort of discrepancy between what the boys reported and what the boys did — *cough* LIARS!
Because the abstract gives very little information & reading the full report & findings published in the August issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine requires a fee, I can’t really say for certain what I think…
Do you have any ideas?
If you follow me on Twitter (and you should; I’m told I’m a hoot), then you “heard” me mention that I had a fabulous email regarding my post on New Year’s resolutions and that I was excited to post about it. The email was from my bud, Slip of a Girl — and even cooler than her email was the fact that she’s posted the whole story and then some at her blog.
Now, aside from the fact that I do so enjoy being the center of attention, Slip makes some good points about how you need to not only be honest with yourself about your pet peeves but know which ones are important enough to be deal breakers for you — and that you can’t expect others to read your mind and know them, you have to communicate them. If only to spare yourself from suffering.
But I’ll be honest here and say that the best part of her post was when she goes off about one her largest pet peeves — which we share — that of men who make ‘ick’ faces about menstruation:
You men (and any women who loathe themselves & their bodies thus) need to accept the realities of a normal, healthy female body.
We women have to accept such things about men — even if we don’t completely understand them.
For example, we have to accept the fact that you guys will wake up with morning wood 99% of the time. We can’t blame you for it. We don’t have to do anything about it; but we do have to accept that your hormones cycle daily and so you have heavy loads of testosterone just waiting to be released along with your seed.
We have to accept that your delicate dangle, that thing there between your legs (which I can only imagine is something like a small, narrow, third breast just hanging there), will suddenly jump up and point like a fool whenever aroused — and beg to be used — like some independent tool with impulse issues.
And you pee from it!
We don’t understand it, sometimes it embarrasses us, and quite frankly it seems weird. But we mature. Even if we remain ignorant to “knowing”, we accept it and stop acting as if (& thinking that) you are freaks or gross or dirty.