Tuesday, October 25, 2011

I Just Realized

I'm watching "Our America with Lisa Ling". She's exploring modern plural marriage. I just connected the dots and realized that this version of marriage includes not just one husband and several wives, but also wives who are married to each other as well as to their shared husband. This, of course, results in children who have more than one mother.

I wonder how conservative people in plural marriage deal with this weird parallel.

*Okay. I see that Ling acknowledges the link. A group of lesbian women is working with the women to help them with activism to keep the gov't out of both their bedrooms and marriages. Hmmm.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

In Hair News

Twice recently black hair has shown up unexpectedly on television in interesting ways.

First, on "Reed Between the Lines" Traci Ellis-Ross and her head full of curlies tried to teach her TV daughter a lesson when the daughter straightens her hair. Initially, the straightening is about a role in a play; they give her a knotty wig to wear that looks terrible, so she decides to flat-iron her own hair instead of wearing the wig because the character is supposed to have long, flowing hair. But when her crush sees her and compliments her, she decides that she should wear it straight all the time. Ellis-Ross finds the daughter just before she applies a home relaxer and tries to get her to see the error of changing something she likes about herself in the name of pleasing some guy. Then a rather "Cosby Show"-esque skit ensues when both parents pretend to be a 1950s-ish June Cleaver, man-pleasing couple. The daughter's crush is over for dinner and seems to think this kind of man-catering is a great idea, at which point Malcolm Jamal Warner (just realized that these people have a lot of names--Anna Maria Horsford is on the show, too!) takes him into the kitchen to correct his ideas about gender. Eventually, the daughter just decides that she likes her hair and starts wearing it curly again, telling crush boy to like it or leave it. It was a surprising way to engage black women and hair. Hmmmm.

The second instance was even more surprising. Olivia on "The Waltons" (which my family has renamed "Mommy's favorite show!) is bent on making a change in her mundane, routined life. She settles on changing her hair and gets hooked up to one of those hair-curling monstrosities that you only see in books--with a thousand hooks and cords that descend from the ceiling and look like they would rip every hair out one-by-one. Unfortunately, she hates the permanent wave that results and her whole family laughs at her. So she goes over to Birdie's house because she's heard that her people know how to straighten curly hair. Well, Birdie laughs at her, too, and tells her that the women in her family don't know nothing 'bout straightening no hair because they've always worn it natural. I was pleased at the shout out for natural hair, even in the 1920s, and kind of glad that the one black person on Walton's mountain didn't end up, in this instance, simply serving the random needs of this family. But it was also kind of funny to me that Olivia seemed so desperate to learn the mysterious ways of black folks' hair.

As usual, I don't really have a take on these moments, but it's interesting to me that black women's hair is so pervasive an issue that it finds its way into stories all over the place.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The World of Boys

I freely admit that I do not understand the world of boys. My only experience is of the men in my family--father, grandpas, uncles, but no brothers. Sure, I know boys. The ones I wanted to date. Kind of. And I think I understand girls. I have friends, plenty of women in my family, a little bit of reading in women's studies, and lots of opportunity to observe. But the world of boys baffles me.

I'm getting ready for parent-teacher conferences with my children's teachers, and that got me thinking about how much more often my son has a less-than-stellar discipline report from school. He's a happy child. He's funny and bright and has a way with words. I often think of how he will charm unsuspecting girls with his quirky humor and easy laugh. He has lots of energy, but he doesn't always know how reign it in appropriately. Lately, he's come home with stories of how groups of boys--sometimes all of the boys in his small class--were on the receiving end of a consequence. I know that sometimes my son doesn't do the right thing because he tells me; but sometimes he tells him that he hasn't actually misbehaved and that he's only been playing with the boys when they all got in trouble. Or that the behavior that landed them in trouble was talking too loud or playing too rough. At their old school, the names on the sad face side of the board at pick-up time belonged to boys more frequently than girls. And I know a boy who stayed in trouble with his teacher because he sat with his knees folded under himself instead of on his bottom in the desk.

I'm wondering if this is because that crazy-inducing hormone called testosterone compells boys to break the rules. But the conclusion I'm leaning towards is that the rules may be breaking the boys instead. One of the books I bought to teach me how to raise a boy (am I a nerdy scholar or what?!) suggests this. In fact, I heard a number of books make this assertion long before I even had a son. What if the loud talking and running around isn't really "bad" behavior, just not easy behavior? What if trying to force them to sit down and be quiet and not punch each other or roll on the floor doesn't serve them best? And what if we don't expect boys to be the trouble makers?

I'm just wondering what it's like to be a little boy.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

I'm just saying . . .

Companies who make girls' clothes:

For your information, my daughter does not want to be sexy. She wants to be six years old. Low rise jeans make it hard to play on the jungle gym. Skinny jeans create wedgies. And weirdly cut underwear shift around when she runs. These are not desireable results.

So, get it together, folks.