Friday, 27 February 2009

Up next in Herstory...

So the thing is, I've never really minded "chairman". Or "mankind". They've never bothered me. They're just words - and as far as "chairman" is concerned, the fact that "man" is usually pronounced "mun" has blunted it even further. "Herstory" is on the surface ridiculous but actually a useful rhetorical tool, not just silly feminists getting the etymology wrong. "Wimmin" equally. That whole area of feminism always left me rather cold - not because I didn't agree with them when I thought about it, but because, well, I didn't think about it. But since coming to Cambridge, I've had to think about it. Like the other day, when I was happily pootling along in J. E. Neale's excoriation of some poor other "historian" (Neale heartily pours scorn on that particular pretension) when I came across this. He's talking about Elizabeth I, by the way.

"Even so I find it difficult to believe in this deliberate insult following upon the enjoyment of Parker's hospitality; though if I confess that if there is one thing too wonderful for us, it is the way of the woman's mind."

Woah. WOAH.

That brought me up with a jolt. I had to read it twice to get the sense of it, because of course when I read the first clause, I included myself in it - and why wouldn't I, because I was reading it, wasn't I? And it's a fairly common occurrence for a historian to speak of the fellowship in that way. But considering myself very much a part of that "us", it was only to find myself unceremoniously ejected by the second clause. Ho ho ho isn't it funny that women are so CRAZY! Lol omg etc...

This is a particularly egregious example, because it is actively stupid, not to mention pretty irrelevant to his argument. But there are plenty of others which, while equally excluding, are to be forgiven because of when they were written - but are nonetheless actually quite upsetting. I can't count the number of times I've read the construction "the historian ... his" or "the historian ... he will find...". Every time, I am taken aback - only for a second, but enough to unsettle me. Every time. Not only that, but talking about Elizabeth I seems to bring out the worst sorts of generalisations and tunnel vision (when Henry V or Edward IV paid attention to expenses, they were thrifty, but Elizabeth I is of course HOUSEWIFELY! Thanks for that, Simon Adams.) And this made me think about representation, and how important it is that people see a recognition in books and tv and films that people like them exist. Black people. Non-camp, non-butch, non-glossy glammy gay people. People with disabilities (good work CBeebies, incidentally, for employing one-handed Cerrie Burnell as a presenter, but boo to the people who think children will be "scared"). Because if I'm upset by being reminded that once upon a time, historians would invariably be men, poor me, but am otherwise pretty well represented, being a white middle-class Londoner with a posh voice, then how much worse is it for everyone else who's "different" from the norm, for whatever reason?

The thing is, words matter, they matter a lot, and it's too easy to forget that. And it's easy too not to notice the exclusion of others, so even though it pisses me off when white, middle-class men complain about how OPPRESSED THEY ARE OMG, at least it gives them a teeny tiny insight into what it's like for others. Just as Preofessor Happy Institionally Sexist Neale reminded me.

ETA to clarify my point about "herstory", lulz

Saturday, 21 February 2009

Beautiful People: Orla Brady

Inspired by the fabulous Dorothy Surrenders, I want to start doing more regular weekly posts with a certain theme. These will almost certainly be picture-heavy, but this way I can guarantee that I will get at least one post out a week, hopefully two.

So Sunday is Beautiful People Day. Since I am a Hairy-Legged Feminist this will of course include Beautiful-on-the-Inside People too. But today's inaugural post is someone who is very definitely Beautiful-on-the-Outside, and only possibly Beautiful-on-the-Inside. ANYWAY.

In honour of the Beeb's Mistresses restarting this week, I give you Orla Brady, our first Beautiful Person.

An ever-so-slightly photo-shopped promo. After all, the woman's 47, can't have her looking her age, can we?

Orla agrees that would be ridiculous. After all, she's aged so hideously from when she looked like this:

Hasn't she?

She is Irish though, that makes up for it...

About the programme, Mistresses is a lot sillier and a lot more inane than it was last series, although I did watch that when I had a hideous cold, so maybe I'm remembering it wrongly. But here's hoping it gets better - not that it'll stop me watching, of course. Because I didn't mention Sarah Parish...

Thursday, 19 February 2009

It's curious that we can't possibly tell what exactly will be considered great and important, and what will seem paltry and ridiculous.

Thanks, Gordon Jacob!

See, although generally I'm quite reverent about Art and Literature and things, every so often I can't escape the conclusion that I am a Big Fat Philistine (usually about modern art). Sometimes I'll be sitting there, feeling like I'm missing something. Dickens falls into that category, although that's mostly because I was forced to read Great Expectations in Year 8 and HATED it.

So, The Three Sisters? I'm all ready to be told why it's good (no, seriously, if any of you like it, please tell me why). And I spose I can see that it's a commentary and it's poetic and all sorts (although that's a matter of taste, I personally hate poetic plays that aren't Shakespeare because PEOPLE DON'T TALK LIKE THAT, GOD!). But I was sitting there, and all I could think was ...


Stupid, I know, but there you go.

Sunday, 15 February 2009

Sunday Something: BEDS

In honour of the fact that I am KNACKERED and also about to go to bed, I give you ... a PICTURE OF A BED.

But not just any bed. I want this bed so much it hurts.

via Decorology

Saturday, 14 February 2009

Happy Valentine's Day

The Confirmation

Yes, yours, my love, is the right human face.
I in my mind had waited here this long,
Seeing the false and searching for the true,
Then found you as a traveller finds a place
Of welcome suddenly amid the wrong
Valleys and rocks and twisting roads. But you,
What shall I call you? A fountain in a waste,
A well of water in a country dry,
Or anything that's honest and good, an eye
That makes the whole world bright. Your open heart,
Simple with giving, gives the primal deed,
The first good world, the blossom, the blowing seed,
The hearth, the steadfast land, the wandering sea,
Not beautiful or rare in every part,
But like yourself, as they were meant to be.

-- Edwin Muir

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Spot the Difference

Separated at Birth, surely

Audrey Tautou

Adam Brody

Trudat, yo.

PS Have decided that this blog is going to get sillier, and probably more picture heavy. This is so that I actually post, ever. And also because it's my blog, and I can decide what happens here. NUR.