Shameless self-promotion: Me at Skirt!

I have a piece in Skirt! Magazine this month on what it means to be a feminist daughter to your mother:

Growing up, I’d never heard my mother identify as a feminist, and her social and political beliefs had been different than my own in many ways. Usually I would try to bridge this gap by forcing my mother to read endless amounts of feminist literature, with the hope that she’d better understand my positions, and maybe, begin to share them. Luckily my mother, God love her, has actually met almost all of my literary demands thus far. But some mother-daughter feminist problems haven’t been simple enough to resolve with a visit to the library, mostly because sometimes being a child to someone conflicts with being a feminist supporter.

Check it out!

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Looking for more hits to your blog?

Just write posts about kids’ movies that include the words “androgynous” and “queer.”

My Wall-E post has been read more than 12,000 times, which for my blog is about 11,998 times more than the average post.

Seriously though, where did you people come from?

No BIG vacation this year? Cry me a river

SmartLikeMe at the Feministing community blog has a great post about the classism of all the articles being written about the affect of gas prices on summer vacations. No, they aren’t making families so poor they can’t afford time off work. No, they aren’t making families so poor they have no entertainment budget. Apparently the big tragedy is that this summer families can’t drive or fly thousands of miles away, and they have to find entertainment closer to home, something cutely called, a “staycation.”

Why are middle and upper-middle class families and their precious Disney vacations the face of the rising cost of gasoline and not the working class families who lived month to month as it was before the exponential price increases…who maybe have to skimp on food or medical services, and for whom a Myrtle Beach trip isn’t even on their radar? Instead of moping about being stuck at home, maybe some of these families should spend part of their summer volunteering for charities who help those who will only ever hear about DisneyWorld in the stories told by other more fortunate kids.

Really, though, how did it get like this? No wonder right wing assholes certain people think Americans are babies about the economy — because they don’t stop to think about how these rising prices affect people already barely getting by, and few people in the mainstream media seem to care to show them.

Honestly, if I ever hear about the tragedy of the “staycation” again…no, no, make that, if I ever even hear the word “staycation” again, I may have to take a permanent vacation from reading travel and leisure newspaper sections.

Cheney, inbreeding, and poverty

Slate has an article (inspired by Dick Cheney’s recent linking of West Virginia to inbreeding) on the origins of the myth that inbreeding is a common or even accepted practice in WV.

They quote a historian who researched the topic specifically:

“In 1980, anthropologist Robert Tincher published a study titled “Night Comes to the Chromosomes: Inbreeding and Population Genetics in Southern Appalachia,” based on 140 years’ worth of marriage records. He concluded that “inbreeding levels in Appalachia … [are neither] unique [n]or particularly common to the region, when compared with those reported for populations elsewhere or at earlier periods in American history.”

So why the myth then? Slate attributes it mostly to the visibility of poverty in West Virginia, and a public desire to blame their poverty on some action, in this case, inbreeding.

Stereotypes about West Virginian breeding practices have long been linked to the state’s poverty. When Eleanor Roosevelt visited West Virginia mining towns in the 1930s, national newspapers ran pictures of rundown shacks and barefoot kids in rags, which left a lasting impression of the state as a backwater. West Virginians became the prototypical “hillbillies,” and incest served as a crude “scientific” explanation for their downtrodden social condition.

In more recent memory, the 2003 film Wrong Turn helped perpetuate the inbreeding stereotype. Set in West Virginia, it features cannibalistic mountain men, horribly disfigured from generations of incest. Then, in 2004, Abercrombie & Fitch released a T-shirt emblazoned with a map of the Appalachian state and the words “It’s all relative in West Virginia.” In February, a casting director for the upcoming thriller Shelter put out a call for extras with “unusual body shapes, [and] even physical abnormalities” to depict West Virginia mountain people.

Charming. The inbreeding hillbilly stereotype serves a purpose outside simply explaining poverty, as it simultaneously reduces sympathy people might otherwise feel for those in poverty. When we all accept some cultural myth that poverty is the result of something other than structural economic and political problems, in this case, a perverse activity the poor participate in, what point is there to reforms or even to charity?

Thrillers and horror movies love to exploit images of people with disabilities or working-class people to freak out the more “normal” protagonists who happen to stumble upon the lair of horror. These film narratives match the cultural narrative that led up to the offensive jokes of A&F and Dick Cheney: Low class status and abnormal physical appearance and ability are a reflection of low moral character.