Friday, January 12, 2007

Why Cranberry?

Well, I didn't realize that cranberries were grown in bogs until after I had graduated from college. I'm not really sure why this vital piece of information escaped me. Perhaps because I grew up in the midwest - far from any bogs. But I like the word bog, simply because it sounds like a combination of different messy, unrelated topics. Sort of how I feel about this blog.

And I'm also a fan of Dar Williams.

On her first album is the song "Flinty Kind of Woman". While I was thinking of this entry I realized that I'm not someone who advocates vigilante justice. The women in the song take justice into their own hands defending their kids and chase a perpetrator into the cranberry bog.

More than anything, I think I appreciate the notion of strong women who do what they need to do. One line in the song says "but it's a victory won and it couldn't be done by the hippy-dippy flaky-shaky fun in the sun braless wonders".

Perhaps I have an idealistic view of the nature of being a woman. But I find myself inspired by strong woman who get the job done. I grew up with too many of women who were more concerned with their appearance and with appearing ditzy to attract men.

Sure, there are lots of beautiful women who are also strong, and I'm not disparaging them. I'm not a second wave feminist who believes that makeup is evil.

But images of strong women (like Rosie the Riveter) are few and far between in current American pop culture. Strong women are b_itchy. Strong women can't be happy or be satisfied until they've put on an apron and bake muffins.

I'm over-simplifying this and obviously there are many other examples. Women are complicated - humans are complicated. We do what needs to be done. Some of us live quiet lives of desperation.

It's nice to have those of us who make sure that our kids ride in car seats, who vote, who pay the phone and electric bills and read the paper glorified every once in awhile.

So no other reason than I like the color cranberry. I like the Dar Williams song. I am in awe of strong women. And I'm certain my entries in this blog will be all over the place - a mass of random thoughts that are difficult to wade through.


C. L. Hanson said...

Speaking of fighting back against domestic violence...

Reading your post, I can't help but immediately recall the situation of a normally docile and soft-spoken lady who -- when it came down to it -- ended up clutching a key and bashing her assailant in the head with it in order to gain a few moments to escape...

I don't know if this is the right place for this, but it's something I've been thinking about a lot lately, about how angry I am, feeling triply sold-out by the Dworkin-MacKinnonites:

1. As a survivor of domestic violence: If their first priority really were to put an end to domestic violence and sexual assault, then it would matter to them that there is no evidence that porn causes rape.

As study after study shows that rape decreases as availability of erotic materials increases, I would hope that they would take this information into account and make a serious effort to find the factors that actually lead to domestic violence. The fact that they don't -- and that they keep linking porn with rape despite all evidence -- makes me feel like they're just using people's laudable desire to stop domestic violence for their own personal agenda.

2. As a woman in Mathematics: It disgusts me that I have to explain what it means to have real evidence as opposed to a few anecdotes. It royally pisses me off that I can't expect educated women to have some basic grasp of logic and statistics.

3. As a woman trained by religion to be ashamed of her sexuality: I can't stand the fact that they perpetuate the virgin/whore dichotomy by saying that women who seek out sex for its own sake are damaged goods, lacking in self-respect who must necessarily have been stupidly brainwashed by the patriarchy into being "pleasers"...

C. L. Hanson said...

Sorry for the rant --

Normally I try not to rant on the Internet at all, and particularly not in comments on other people's blogs. But t would appear that I still have a certain amount of anger, despite my desire to be calm and detached...

You may think I ought to reserve my anger for men rather than for factions of feminism, but I guess I hold feminists -- people who lay claim to this term -- up to a higher standard.

Aerin said...

I was going to respond to your comment the other day - things have been crazy since my brother in law and his girlfriend were visiting last weekend. And our basement has flooded twice within the past week. So things have been busy.

AND - I am embarassed to say I haven't read through the real life stalker story. Which I need to do.

I wonder if I can be considered a feminist and not know who Dworkin-MacKinnonites are?

I think I have a good impression though.

We have every right to be angry.

I think the reasons you list for anger are very valid. Growing up, I remember being taught that women should never be angry. They should just "take it" - whenever someone else used them as a doormat. This (thank goodness) was not the only message I heard, but it was very loud and vocal - especially from most of the mormons I grew up with.

I really should send you the feminism and post modernism text I read as a part of my women's studies class. It was truly eye-opening. I think there are many different kinds of feminists and feminist perspectives. I don't really understand the objectification argument either.

I will say, I think it takes a long time to rethink and re-examine previous positions a person has had. Some people never have the time or capacity to do this. While one person could throw out their formative belief system, they could keep some of the tenets of another; not realizing that they are incompatible.

I think my comment response is getting too long - I'll post about my theories about feminism and the sorry state of logical arguments in the US at some point. I do hear what you're saying though - thanks as always for your comments.

C. L. Hanson said...

I'm glad you're not annoyed by my comment of tangential relevance... ;-)

I figured that since you've taken some real women's studies classes you're a good person to discuss such subjects with -- I'd definitely be interested in reading the text you mention if you can send it to me (or at least a reference).

Throughout my college years and through the beginning of grad school I was a passionate feminist, reading everything I could get my hands on. But the more I read, the more I felt like there was a certain popular current of feminism that excluded all but those who match a certain mold, and as a consequence I felt unwelcome to call myself a feminist and ended up avoiding the subject for many years.

Even while I was actively doing some rather feminist things like getting a Ph.D. in math and fighting off a violent ex-boyfriend, I was hestitant.

On the bright side, the whole experience has been rather seminal, if I dare use that word ;-) (I mean like seeds, y'know, like plant seeds or something, not... oh, nevermind... ;-) )

But seriously, it has made me think twice about how important it is to affirm other women's choices -- even if they're different than my own -- rather than insisting that true empowerment is for women to feel exactly the same way that I do about their own sexuality, etc.

Liseysmom said...

I really really so strongly agree with cl's last statement. As I've gotten older and found my own niche in life, I've realized that my choices work for me, but maybe wouldn't work for another woman.

The important thing is to make sure all women have choices, so we can all find our niche and be happy.

Aerin said...

I agree with John at mind on fire about the different types of feminism and feminists.

I think there's a wide range of what a feminist is and who can be considered feminist. I think feminist is a loaded word that has many connotations. Personally - I think feminism means being pro-woman. For the longest time - I didn't consider myself a feminist - because I remember all the negative baggage I had with that word growing up.

There are some feminists that I disagree with.

One is Shula Firestone. I thought I remembered her writing an essay that women and men should live separately and that childbirth was slavery.

Now that I read her wikipedia entry, I may have her confused with someone else.

I agree with Lisey's mom - it is important that women have choices. It's also important that women have the support they need.

chanson - I find as I get older I'm more of a humanist. The definition of humanist is my own - I'm sure it has a more well-known definition that I'm not familiar with at the moment.

So I'm pro-woman but I'm also pro-man as well. I believe there are male victims of patriarchy (talk about contraversial!). I want to see all parents have the support they need. I want people to feel free to decide to become parents or choose not to be. I want to make sure that no one is discriminated against in the workplace. I want birth control to be covered by all the insurance companies who cover viagra. I'm not sure how comfortable I feel with designer babies - where parents choose what gender their child will be. I want to continue the discussion about what it means to be male and female in our society. I want women (and men) to feel safe in our communities and to have the support they need to leave abusive relationships.

In the end - I'm an idealist. Many of these things will never happen - but I want to work towards them happening.

C. L. Hanson said...

I see many fascinating discussions in our future!!! ;-)

Regarding designer babies -- I'll admit that when I was planning to have kids I wanted only girls. Because I had a bunch of theories about raising girls, whereas I felt like I didn't have any particular affinity with boys (or even with moms of boys...)

So I got some books on "how to choose the sex of your child" and followed their advice, and -- needless to say -- it didn't work.

But now that I've got my kids I love them to pieces, and I wouldn't trade them for any other kids in the world, even the imaginary kids I'd thought of having. And I think I'm up to this unfamiliar challenge of raising boys!!!

So I guess, like you, I'm not sure how I feel about the subject on principle....