February 27th, 2011

interview with Peggy Orenstein in Spring 2011 Bitch magazine

Bitch is the name of the magazine, a "Feminist Response to Pop Culture".

I have been busy not buying Orenstein's book _Cinderella Ate My Daughter_. I respect women who write books that get a lot of press and make a lot of money; more power to them. OTOH, that doesn't mean I have to inflict what they write on myself if it's abundantly clear that while I might learn something from the process, it won't be enough to make up for the frustration it causes me.

This interview did nothing to cause me to change my mind. However, it did raise a lot of additional questions.

Question 1: "And that well-meaning part is really key. I mean, when you walk into Pottery Barn Kids, it's like apartheid in there."

I'll ask my readers to observe a moment of silence to get over the sheer, utter shock that anyone would use _apartheid_ as a comparison to gender divided bedding and furniture. Trivializing the pain of poor people of color? Ya think?

In what world does well-meaning -- as applied to parents -- exist familiarly with "Pottery Barn Kids"? Oh, wait: the same world that thinks comparing gender divided bedding and furniture to _apartheid_ is a reasonable execution of the literary form hyperbole: white, privileged and fabulously oblivious.

Question 2: "I really [sic -- verbal tic on the part of Orenstein] do believe that change can be made on a micro level. [walkitout here: because you're white, privileged and fabulously oblivious] You can think about it and make decisions about what you buy...I think it makes a big difference. I mean, I know it does. My daughter was Athena on Halloween this year. That's a long way from Little Mermaid. One of the ways we countered the princess thing was to read a lot of Greek myths. She needs models of femininity and she needs to act out fantasies that affirm her as a girl. She hooked into Athena -- that's a lot better than the alternatives."

The verbal tics suggest Orenstein has some reservations about this idea. I wish she'd thought this through a little better. What, for example, is better about Athena? Let's think about Athena's obvious attributes:

(a) Virgin. Possibly appropriate for a small child, but not as a model of adult womanhood.
(b) Sprang full-formed from the brow of Zeus after having been born _inside_ Zeus by Metis (parthenogenetic birth, no less), who Zeus _ate_. That's not a great role model for a small child to think about family structure. In fact, it's kind of awful.
(c) Goddess of warfare. Really? You want to go there? Okay. Your business. I'd rather not.
(d) Patron of Athens. You know, land of boy-raping in which the only women who were literate and got to do really interesting things were hetarae.

I'm okay with slamming Ariel. Really. You can go there. But here's the question: in what world is Athena a better role model of femininity and affirming someone as a girl than Ariel?

Question 3, to be left as an exercise to the reader: We need role models to learn how to enact gender why, exactly? I mean, replacing crappy ones accepts the box. Let's just _exit_ the box, okay? Soon? Let's have role models who happen to be women (or girls) and role models who happen to be men (or boys) and lots of other ones who we're maybe not entirely certain about either way and it doesn't matter either.

my skanky gramma

A while ago, my cousin J. (who shares this gramma) told me that when my mother and his father went over gramma's stuff after she died, they found some paperwork that suggested a wedding had had to happen in a bit of a hurry.

Well, that turns out to be only half the story.

J. and I initially thought this must have been our half-uncle's birth, but I didn't have his birthdate and couldn't be sure. Today, I was trying to nail down some information about her oldest son, and realized that the birthdate given in the printed family genealogy differs in the year but not the month and date from what pipl was finding for me. And let's just say I trust pipl a whole lot more, because it is going through an assemblage of public records (voters records, directories, blah, blah, bleeping, blah). Easy to lie to the family genealogist. No reason to lie -- and a lot of reason not to lie -- when registering to vote.

To make a sordid story short, if you get married in June, you should not be producing a baby in the first week of November of the same year. No wonder she went back down to the States to produce the child.

There's a marriage that produces no offspring, and then a third marriage. It is _as I am writing_ this entry, that I realize these are the dates of the weddings:

Jun 19
Jun 22
Jun 20

I don't have the exact date for the last marriage, but I'd be happy to make a guess!

In any event, after the Jun 20 wedding, a baby arrived on ... January 30.

Also, a conspicuous lack of family stories about how premature her babies were.

I only get more convinced every day that genealogy is fundamentally a rude activity. Sort of like farting, I think genealogy is somewhat inevitable -- we're all kinda curious about where we came from -- but nevertheless stinky and socially inappropriate. Or, at any rate, it uncovers a lot of inappropriateness.