11/28/2017 0 Comments
Three movements are examined here: ballet, medicine, and clothing for children
Suddenly masculine, suddenly feminine is a lyric from this song:
I don't know if trans women are really women, I don't know what makes a woman, but I do believe I am one, if not a totally effeminate one
I used to be whole-heartedly open and supportive of the transgender and gay communities, mostly because i only seemed to attract these kinds of people into my life as friends. I feel as a woman who never really had maternal feelings ( and has just turned forty and STILL doesn't want kids but still wants adventures), I was an unfit fish for the general pond, and these people could smell it on me. (I also used to have lots of black friends, before I totally eschewed the concept of friendship now and forever)
I tend to be more of the school that humanity has a variety that goes beyond gender, race, anything ; people have different personalities and wants and dreams and why does it matter what they do? Why do you even care? You will always find someone who is like you,THEY EXIST, so what do you care about the others (unless they willfully irk you, but otherwise, if they don't) ? Groups end up being oppressed and then they become the oppressor when the pendulum of capitalism starts to swing in their direction
But in the interest of the further acquisition of general knowledge in my life, it was fascinating to learn that certain things we currently are used to being under the auspices of one gender, used to actually be dominated by the contrary gender oh so many years ago ( and according to certain white men, the mantle of oppression has switched shoulders now too)
Let's make a foray into hidden history and examine lightly the transition of three modern day phenomena that we take for granted for their supposedly immutable gender roles, (and we can also take in some other startling conclusions along the way)
excerpts from "Ballerina" by deirdre kelly
I had no idea being a ballerina was such a dirty profession. And I finally understand where the term "working girl" comes from
I have never liked ballet. I have always thought it so narrow, too binding, too unwelcoming of difference, so unrelatable, TOO BORING
All that changed when I learned about its seedy underbelly and its true evolution. How miserable the working-class women who entered it were, so many of them, especially in France, forced to supplement their meager incomes from dancing with prostitution
But the practice of ballet started out male - it started out as a hobby for male royals who gradually allowed women to participate
Also originally used as a way to exercise military maneuvers, it's not really such a strange thing when in some eighties sitcom a teenage boy admits he takes ballet to help with his football moves (although we are all meant to be stunned and intrigued when we hear this; how unusual! ) Female roles were danced by men, same as we find in theater with the roles found in ancient Greek tragedies and Shakespearean plays
After a gradual introduction of women into the balletic sphere, the inevitable happened one day, and the male royals had been almost completely run out and the world said "Okay ladies - it's YOURS now..."
Its main participants may have become women, and originally very wealthy and influential ones, but these became lower class women who struggled to survive at the mercy of male patrons who could make or break their careers. And hello Harvey Weintstein! They had to sleep with them too, so for women, sleeping your way to the top of a profession has always been the norm (thank goodness that never changed! Some consistency!)
(I also learned that Edgar Degas was a total asshole who relished the poverty and the suffering of the young women he captured in his art. What is that you say? "The great people in history" have personalities? Commit errors? Have faults? Can be mean? And demean?)
Especially if they are men? That's also something not very new
evolution of the "working girl"
I remember a stigma being attached to women who entered the workforce in the beginning of the last century. It was showcased in movies and television shows, older ones, and I never understood it. I could understand the sexism of not wanting to see women able to support themselves though gainful employment, but that didn't seem to quite explain it completely for me; now I finally understand
Women who have to work are sluts
Both ballerinas and sweet little children could burst into flames due to their highly flammable outfits
In recent years there has been an ongoing kafuffle instigated by two seemingly random and dangerous developments in our culture: the emergence of unisex clothing for children, and the emergence of the tendency to break gender clothing rules for children, allowing them to wear the "uniform" of the gender they may currently "feel" more like
And when I say random, I mean it seems that way because the majority of us 'Muricans don't know much history, and even fewer of us even bother to investigate it, so we act surprised ( because we are) when we hear of stuff like this, when it dares to accost our ears!
We see this trend that we don't recognize because of our ignorance and we say "hohoho, what's going ON HERE!??!! This is an abomination, never before seen! This will not be allowed by any powers that be!!!"
And that just isn't so...
photos from "pink and blue: telling the boys from the girls in america" by jo b. paoletti
In Victorian times, babies were considered just babies. No emphasis on the gender, not until they reached a certain age. Until then, both girl and boy babies wore long white dresses of plain white cotton which was the easiest material to wash and least expensive to procure. Babies were innocent creatures whom the notions of sex and the sexes had not yet contaminated, so white seems to have been a fitting color.
Styles have varied more dramatically for men through the centuries, going from shorter pants to longer pants while women pretty much wore long skirts until about the last century. Older children's clothing tended to imitate adult styles, but colors had not yet been relegated to each sex.
The most emblematic example of childhood sartorial gender bias is the decision to assign colors, and this occurred much more recently than most people suppose
excerpts from "pink and blue: telling the boys and girls in america" by jo b. paoletti
So such and such a color being for boys and the other for girls, and this style for boys, and that style for girls, is kinda arbitrary, and just a style trend.
Not a real indication of being a pansy or "gay"
be gone the urban, literate woman: witches, midwives and medicine
In keeping with the "burn" theme, we turn now to another group of disparaged individuals whose probability of ending their lives in a blaze was also very high
For centuries (and again, we're looking at this from a Western, European perspective), women were relegated to home chores: cooking, cleaning, taking care of the children, and consequently, taking care of all the medical issues
Because they had to be the head caretakers, women cultivated a deep knowledge and understanding of plants and other natural substances: how to identify them, how to prepare them, what were their medical uses
Then high and noble men decided they wanted to dominate the field and a consequent purge of the witches occurred, singling out the women who were lay healers, the wise women the people of the village would consult. There were probably other reasons involved as well, like finding excuses to take people's property, keeping women in their place, and asserting the authority of the church, but this was a pretty compelling one in the mix
excerpts from "Witches, midwives, and nurses: a history of women healers" by barbara ehrenreich and deirdre english
Ignaz Semmelweis (1818 - 1865) went insane trying to convince the medical orthodoxy of his time that it was super important to wash your hands before delivering a baby, especially after dealing with corpses all day long. One of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of puerperal fever, the death rates amongst new mothers was higher when the babies were delivered by the dirty-handed doctors rather than the midwives. Women feared having the maverick male doctors deliver their babies, because you know, they might have died
The tide of course, started to turn in the other direction as the century wore on
Established medical orthodoxy (i.e. male obstetricians) launched campaigns to undermine the reputation of the safety and efficacy of midwives. Cleveland was an example of one such city where this occurred
exhibit panels from the dittrick museum of medical history at case western reserve university
As I have gone through reviewing these phenomena and "the switch" between the sexes, I have noticed there is a negative connotation assigned to a movement once it becomes associated with the feminine
Pink is hard to extract from femininity, and is saturated with the notion that it is the color of weakness and frivolity
The history of medicine took a turn for the worst with the purge of female lay healers whose talents and skills have been all but obliterated from history, and their historically designated position as midwives has been tarnished in an attempt to discredit them in the eyes of the public: male obstetrician good, female midwife bad. Old time female healer=witch; old time male healer= scientist, doctor
Ballet fell from being the lofty hobby of male kings to the refuge of poor working class females trying to eke out an existence in the 18th and 19th centuries, an art form dominated by men in its management, and basically a venue of prostitution that funded the great opera houses of France
This could be a very important point to the article, apart from the observation that while things may change very little in history, if you don't know history, you'll think stuff is always changing for the worst
Fluorine Magellan hates nature and loves evil