Is “UnCultured” Desirable or Even Possible, for Our Girls?

20 07 2009

What’s the opposite of uncultured, I’m wondering today.
Cultured? Which antonym means natural, pure, authentic — cultured, or uncultured? So is cultured a good thing or not? Do we (collectively, as a culture) have consensus either way, have we thought to ask? Is it even a meaningful question, or is it nonsense?

Based on Wired Magazine power of story, Dana asks today just what we are teaching our girls. I saw this at the same time, which suggests that as Dana herself says, it’s not the current state of technology so much as timeless human psychology (mostly of their parents!) that shapes the culture kids will then see reflected back to them, in the most successful public messages.

Maybe youth culture is like driver’s ed as a subset of the general culture, as tweens and teens learn to operate their own psychology according to current road conditions, and affect those conditions for us all at the same time.

Favorite Daughter unschooled, unchurched, and therefore uncliqued, nevertheless identified with the Disney princesses as she danced almost daily through her tween-teen years with a small class of girls self-selected from public and private Christian school cultures. She has a lot to say about Girl Culture for Thinking Parents to consider, especially if it still looms ahead of their children. So here goes (maybe get a cuppa something, it’s long.)

Girls who stay with dance tend to be beautiful, slender, graceful girls blessed with great bone structure, aspiring ballerinas seduced to Dance as little girls by princess-pink tutus and tiaras, by handsome princes, bouquets of flowers and bows to the adoring crowd. Beautiful culture, nothing to fear?

But the world of dance is also unrealistically same-sex segregated. It’s also a culture of heavy stage make-up beyond one’s years, sensual and provocative if not downright sexy moves and costumes, investment in and obsession with appearance to the point of eating disorders, competing against peers to impress teachers and judges and earn external validation, petty dressing room gossip and elaborate in-bred social rivalries because there’s no time for any life outside that world —

At age 16 Favorite Daughter blogged:

Growing up female at the tail end of the 20th century, I hear a lot about the way the media unfairly influences my vision of myself. I can’t help but hear the news reports and studies and talk shows about yet another girl who got lost in a glossy magazine, yet another young woman whose blind ambition to be beautiful ruined a life not yet begun. . . yet I’ve survived spending almost every day with people who challenge my physical self-esteem.

Allow me to explain: I dance.

Nance then offered her a little cultural affirmation:

Yesterday I was talking with a my wonderful sister-in-law about my DD and her friends. They are in the 10-13 age range. And they THINK!! They try different things like being vegetarian — with varying success 🙂 — and they try different styles. And they try different looks and makeup and attitudes. But they THINK! They do not confuse skinny with healthy, for one important thing. And they revel in being their own unique selves.

Unschoolers all! 🙂

May they continue to hold fast to discovering who they want to be, exactly as they want to do it, with you as a wonderful example!

Btw the dancers who stay in that world and thrive, especially ballerinas, are stereotypically far from scholars and curious academic minds (dance professionals we met would use the word “bunhead” for this type, and not in a good way.)

Bunhead cliques pre-date fashion video games and fast food, modern marketing and Disney princesses, just as criminal gangs pre-date violent video games, MTV and sugary cereal marketing.

FavD’s first job was at that studio too, so between dancing and working she spent most of her waking teen hours awash in bunheaddery — including family members who one way or another, surely helped make the bunhead culture individually and socially who they were– yet she wasn’t of that culture, or in it. She never wanted or bought into it, but became a cultural observer and critic of it.

I don’t know how much of that came from nature and how much from nurture, how much was her homelife and unschooled education . . .what I can certify beyond any doubt, is that she had unlimited access to Disney and the Olsen Twins and Barbie, television and movies, music, wigs and hair-dye and ear-piercing, snack food and make-up, even School and Church (but became cultural critics of those as well.)

So let’s stay real — the corrupting influence of exclusive, expensive and desirable culture didn’t just come along with video games and iphones. (Ever read F. Scott Fitzgerald?)

When we worry in my house about what’s being marketed to our teens by a corrupt culture worth working to change, it’s more like this:
Those Who Would Like to Pre-Approve Us All

Of course like teen gangs and cliques, paying for school as Complex Moral Dilemma is older than *I* am never mind older than our daughters, and it wasn’t invented by greedy credit card companies but by the general culture that has ALWAYS gamed higher education as exclusive, expensive and the gateway to the American Dream.

He’s about to get kicked out of med school because he can’t pay for classes. He is quite destitute. I worried about him, how was he going to manage? Wait tables? Become a grease monkey? Sell his body? (I mean, of course, his organs. )

Marketers and movie-makers and storytellers reflect our culture back to us, in the languages we’re speaking, more than force it on us. (Even Shakespeare was just giving people what they wanted, back when his plays were meant to play to that.)

Barbie dolls first became controversial cultural message a half-century ago when I was a little girl. In mid-twentieth-century conservative southern culture, that was before television was much of a factor at least for me, much less before video games. I was preschool-aged, too little to listen to rock and roll on the radio, before the Beatles were on Ed Sullivan, before the Kennedy assassinations. But I had one of the first Barbie dolls (several, truth be told) and so did high-tech baby FavD decades later:

If your child is looking to Barbie as her primary role model, maybe you should let her read, or watch television, or leave the house. In a world in which Michelle Obama is the First Lady, Sandra Day O’Connor is appearing on talk shows, and Tina Fey exists, are girls today hard up for flesh-and-blood role models?

And sure, youth culture is about us parents, too. All of us collectively if not so much individually, how we choose to live and die and why. So there’s much we can do and everything matters, but we parents need to be discerning to accomplish that, too smart as “idea consumers” to blame human culture on itself just because it exists, just call it evil and gang up on it because that’s the popular message being peddled to us, too smart and savvy to just define tv commercials, snack food and video games as The Problem. Or to blame a world in which the whole family doesn’t sit down to dinner together anymore, rather than raising children more concerned about how much of the world gets no dinner at all.

Or fashion dolls, cliques or the culture of dance:

More culture of dance? — girls as a group are better dancers (students) than boys and like it more, but still must wait to be asked, held back by the less willling and able boys? How many girls finally become frustrated enough to just dance alone or with each other, forget about waiting for the boys to catch up? Seems to me girls already adept at the dance of cultural change, will not wait long and will be right not to, that they’ll tend instead to make over their identity once again, and never mind those trying to engineer their differences into some standardized social configuration.

Will our nation’s cultures and creeds, our empowered parents and our world-renowned educational institutions, merely keep up our stylized minuet as we go right on fancying ourselves the belles of the cultural ball, uniquely superior to all those backward places where geography and demographics are destiny?

Culture’s got everything! It’s so complex that there’s ample opportunity to choose our own emphasis. So each of us can choose, ask and answer ourselves — will I spend my life-force fearing or cheering youth culture, parenting culture, high-tech culture, global culture, creative culture, the culture of dance?

From the President’s transformational speech at Cairo University to the 20th anniversary of Tiannamen Square to our family here in Florida, where the kids danced all weekend in styles from around the world and where during rehearsal I met another dad with a dancing daughter adopted from China, this week’s power of story is an internationally inclusive progressive dinner, a timeless serial story told with creative, meaningful nuance, cultural sensitivity and — dance!


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45 responses

21 07 2009
Kids and Consumerism « Scita > Scienda

[…] Cocking a Snook makes the point that it’s not about unculturedness, it’s choosing culture in a deliberate, thinking way. […]

21 07 2009
Crimson Wife

My DS loves to dance. I suspect he’d really enjoy a ballet class but I also know his ex-military ex-frat boy ex-quarterback father would freak out at the idea of his son as a ballet dancer (think Billy Elliott). So my plan is to lobby to enroll my younger DD in ballroom dance lessons when she’s old enough and oh, yeah, honey she’ll need a partner… 😉

21 07 2009
COD

My father wouldn’t let my mother enroll me in tap at age 5. I’m still bitter about my lack of grace on the dance floor.

21 07 2009
JJ

CW, just as a piece of info you can do with as you will, football players have been given ballet workouts that kick their asses and make them cry uncle, mainly as a gimmick by their coaches but still, it physically counteracts the prejudice that dance is some kind of sissy-boy thing. Or get a load of the abs on the “So You Think You Can Dance” finalists.

OTOH it’s simultaneously true that your DH and COD’s dad are quite right to have social-cultural concerns. There’s a lot about the culture of dance that can sort of make you unfit for return to the ordinary world you came from, especially for boys. Read Mao’s Last Dancer (CW’s hubby would like this, maybe; it’s about communist China and political-economic themes for a male ballet dancer literally dislocating his hips as a poor ignorant boy, to qualify for a brutal ballet school that sounds tougher than military boot camp.)

On my way home from Shakespeare camp drop-off just now, I was listening to NPR’s interview with Charles Siebert on “humanzees” like Lucy, raised as human children and taught to communicate human thoughts and feelings with sign language, to sleep in a bed and prepare meals from the refrigerator, etc. Then when they become pubescent and their “nature” takes over and they are sent reluctantly out of human culture back to chimp culture, they are unfit. Anyway, I think Dance can have that effect, especially on boys . . .

Also I think the Culture of Dance over time turns out to be different in ways both good and bad from what anyone expects. IOW whatever our notions positive and negative, they will turn out to be wrong! 😉

But that probably says more about “culture” than “dance” —

21 07 2009
JJ

AS I commented on her blog when she first wrote her cultural critique of what we’re willing to do to pay for what she called our “education fetish”:

Dear Favorite Daughter, the Culture of Work and School explains a lot about almost everything, though it’s seldom factored in or even mentioned in school or on the job. I guess fish schools don’t mention the water much either?

See “Hell is Not Working”

21 07 2009
Beta

Wow, there’s so much here, I don’t know where to start. I danced when I was young, as well, and I never fit the stereotype. Chubby, geeky, too smart — you name it, I was there.

Alpha and I have proclaimed time and again how “lucky” we are that we don’t have girls. Because, truthfully, I think it’s harder. There are more stereotype, more hurdles to overcome, more conversations that get in the way. My brother took dance for a few years, because my mother thought it would suit him. He was small for his age, soft-spoken, what could suit more? How could she know he’d rather she sign him up for wrestling than jazz class with his sister??

FavD has a real talent for words. I hope she finds the groove she is looking for. As for me, thanks for playing along with dh. He wants an audience, just isn’t sure quite where to find it!

21 07 2009
JJ

Hi Beta, thanks for the kind words about Favorite Daughter’s writing and I think that WILL be her groove — who btw has outed herself this summer, as Meredith or Mer. (I’ll keep using the FavD here, though.)

Your DH might like meeting up with some of the other longtime Thinking homeschool dads online. I am thinking particularly of Daryl Cobranchi who’s a doctor of chemistry, currently with DuPont I think (and dad of four including a ballerina at a special NC arts high school now) and Chris O”Donnell, tech geek and Air Force brat, Red Sox fan, horse and fencing dad, also experienced kid ball coach.

And Rolfe Schmidt the math whiz prodigy dad (from Harvard, MIT, Stanford, can’t recall?) had a GREAT blog for little boys who love travel plus homeschooling math and science, until he went offline several months ago to finish his own doctorate . . . lots of good stuff is still there though, including some very deep religious compassion discussion you might like, and he started a separate math blog for kids that I think he still plays with.

Then Doc is a mom, not a dad, but she’s a hard-science doctor too . . .

21 07 2009
JJ

Beta, did I happen to tell you my dad was an Air Force Colonel, ret. (and then Ph.D. business management-ethics prof for 30 years at UF?) I only mention this because it might help your DH feel there are plenty of people he can talk with who would get him. . .

22 07 2009
Beta

Awww, crap! That’s what comes of commenting while drinking a screwdriver or two. Luckily, I didn’t ramble on too much.

The outing was unintentional, although it’s never been about my own privacy. Rather, it’s about allowing Gamma and Epsilon relative anonymity.

Thanks for the links. I’ll have to recommend them to Alpha!

22 07 2009
writestuff444

Our youngest fell in love with pink ballet and for 7 years she worked hard to be a “ballerina”, but her 5 foot 10 frame with footballer shoulders and solid German body wasn’t air, it was ..oh I want to find the right word. It was Eve in the world, a strong womanly body with it’s own brand of grace and movement, but she did not fit the dance stereotypes of ballet and finally she acceded with a certain level of heartbreak at the decision to switch to volleyball. She grew to love her sport and is still working at loving her body, as are all of us as women.

Meredith sounds like she’s having the time of her life, Amazing adventure JJ.

Should we plan an old lady’s tour of Europe,..for homeschooling mothers who just need to get away! 🙂 I’m up for it.

22 07 2009
JJ

Let me do what I can to erase you, Beta. 🙂

(Better now?)

22 07 2009
JJ

Miss Betty, I always did like the way you think. The girls started out just planning it as the fun, without really thinking it would happen, and they had such a good time for a year with that. We certainly can start THAT part — maybe start by putting Belgium on the list because I’m sure Beta wants to make screwdrivers for us . . .

Hmm, I wonder if we could get a book or movie deal out of it like Julie and Julia?

22 07 2009
JJ

Betty, tell Em we have a famous volleyball player slash model from FSU, six foot two I think, named Gabrielle Reese. She was a local celebrity here before she became world famous. I even saw her shopping one day back then, and she’s just stunning even in the grocery store. Wikipedia says she didn’t take up sports until the 11th grade. It also reports that she co-wrote a book Em might like the title of, called “Big Girl in the Middle.” 😀

22 07 2009
NanceConfer

She grew to love her sport and is still working at loving her body, as are all of us as women.

****

Ain’t it the truth! 🙂

But we’re trying to do better for our daughters, aren’t we? At least we’re open about the image issues and aware. I don’t remember this sort of discussion when I was a girl. Many eons ago. 🙂

One odd thing here — DD is tall and has fallen into a pool of girls who are actually as tall or taller. In the local acting school. Why would that be? I don’t know but we’ve all noticed it and DD is very happy with it. 🙂

Off to swim now. Not to change my body shape but to be healthier. Right? 🙂

Nance

22 07 2009
JJ

What fantasy destination will you add to our Thinking Crone tour, Nance? If swimming is your thing, how about the Cote d’Azur (south of France) or maybe off the coast of Capri? I have my travel journal out from 1985, documenting the only European swim I ever got to take:

“At the top [of the island’s funicola] the view of the coast was gorgeous. I bought a white polished cotton dress for 95,000 lire (under $50) and after a cool drink at a sidewalk cafe, descended and joined the group at the beach.

The beach is narrow and comprised of rocks rather than sand. They are black, grey and white rocks ranging from the size of your fist down to the size of small pearls. And they hurt! Now I understand why swim shoes were invented. The rocks go out into the water until you reach almost shoulder depth. Then it’s absolutely glorious.

I swam along the coastline looking back at Capri with the sun almost right on top of the cliff face, turning it a hazy gold. The Mediterranean water was very cold for July in such a hot climate, but once in, I didn’t want to get out. I swam about 40 minutes, then climbed back along the rocky beach to enjoy a beer by the dock, before we left for Naples via hydrofoil . . .”

22 07 2009
Beta

Thanks, that was kind of you!

Come on over, I’ll get you all soused too. Although, for the time being, I think I’ll be sticking to herbal tea in the evenings!

I vote for the Greek Isles, personally. And Switzerland. And can personally attest to the beauty and timelessness of Scotland. Only five more weeks and we’ll be there, in our home away from home. Can’t wait!

22 07 2009
JJ

Oh yes, definitely Scotland! Okay ladies? Beta can get us soused in two nations . . .and then when she is old and her home education a fond memory, the next generation will do it for HER.

22 07 2009
writestuff444

Keep tempting me….I’m wondering along the lines..of homeschoolers all over the world…if a trip abroad..and doing some form of homeschool mom exchange trip..might not be a fabulous adventure! Especially with Emily away at school this year, won’t I need some adventures of my own…

I think the Greek Isles..Oh, my God, I can’t imagine seeing them! Rome just doesn’t excite me as much as Greece..or France! And I’m even tempted by Austria and Germany.

but having never been abroad I’d settle for a little old hut in any country there..:)

22 07 2009
JJ

I guess I’d better get that passport application pulled together soon, just in case! 😀

22 07 2009
Nance Confer

Well, I found my birth certificate. Don’t rush me on the rest of it! 🙂

Greek Isles has a nice ring to it though. . .

Nance

22 07 2009
JJ

Why should we BELIEVE you on that birth certificate?
😉

23 07 2009
Beta

My best friend here, Eleni, is from Athens. She’s actually back “home” visiting right now, poor thing. It’s miserably hot right now, of course. I’d aim for mid-spring or mid-autumn. Wait two years and she’ll be back in Greece for good, and we’ll have our own personal tour guide!

23 07 2009
JJ

We can do that — two years of blissful fantasy planning, then we GO! 😀

23 07 2009
Nance Confer

True. Maybe I am a secret Kenyan. 🙂

Nance

24 07 2009
JJ

At Lynn’s: The Power of Art

24 07 2009
JJ

In my local newspaper:
We Need to Help Girls Survive Being Girls:

My friend was disparaging the critical-thinking processes of teenage girls. While I opted to cut the back-and-forth short and wished upon him a fatherhood pox of little princesses, his comments made me think about what leads girls to do the things they do.

25 07 2009
writestuff444

Em will almost be out of college in two years. I might even be able to afford an European adventure!

25 07 2009
boremetotears

From “We Need to Help Girls Survive…”:

Ward’s revelations made me think about the example young girls see in women my age…. “They are our responsibility,” Ward said.

I was struck by something Nigel said to (older) dancer Melissa about her breast cancer performance (referenced in “Power of Art,” linked above). He said that, as an older woman, she had a “responsibility” to the piece, which she seemed to understand. Interesting, as I don’t think that many people (men or women) spend much time and energy considering their influence in this way.

25 07 2009
JJ

YES! I was struck by that too. I feel that same responsibility or I wouldn’t blog btw. I think of it more as artistic “integrity” I guess — the way Howard Gardner describes the best leaders as those who best “integrate” their public and private power of story in ways that ring true.

And this is the critical difference for me, between those I admire and those I disdain (or sometimes even despise).

Did you ever see the movie Excalibur? — in which an old Merlin darkly warns, “When a man lies he murders a part of the world.”
Just shooting off your mouth in circles or doing cutesy posing and shock-jock stuff, is all a form of lacking integrity and therefore lying imo. You have a responsibility to the truth of the thought, the words, the human meaning, to think and then express at the very highest level you can manage, and to never be satisfied that you’ve achieved it.

30 07 2009
Favorite Daughter Safe in LONDON for Last Week of Adventure « Cocking A Snook!

[…] 30 07 2009 She just called. They have tickets to see “Billy Elliot” on the West End, Dance as Cultural Power of Story, what […]

15 08 2009
JJ

JJ above: “Marketers and movie-makers and storytellers reflect our culture back to us, in the languages we’re speaking, more than force it on us.

(Even Shakespeare was just giving people what they wanted, back when his plays were meant to play to that.)”

Sandra Dodd on Bringing Shakespeare Home:

Luckily for us all, we can see Shakespeare in our own homes, done by professionals, and we can pause or rewind or fast forward, we can eat chocolate chip ice cream or hamburgers (neither of which were known to anyone at The Globe Theatre), sit on soft couches with kids in our laps, have subtitles playing… I love DVDs.

And I’m grateful to anyone who has ever made a film of Shakespeare. Netflix has a DVD for rent (which means it’s for sale too, but it might not be so cheap) of some of the earliest silent movies of Shakespeare plays. Sometimes it’s only one scene of a play, and some were very experimental things with interesting special effects.

13 09 2011
“Partisan Polarization” Just Another Pathology of Hypercompetition? « Cocking A Snook!

[…] there you go! If only all our daughters were so ferocious about “winning” think what full and happy lives they’d have, right? . . .”It was not that chess was too […]

19 09 2011
bpbproadrunner

Total NonDancer. If it were possible to have three left feet, I would and they would all be on one leg like some ancient Celtic monster. *sigh* But I loved martial arts. And the katas are a kind of dance. I wasn’t very good at those either, but they did improve my sense of physical self.

I get suspicious whenever anyone starts hawking culture. To me that usually leads into some utopian desire for *the way things ought to be–when men were men and women were women and ant eaters were platypii or some such.

I would rather see all human beings striving for personal authenticity. Girls sometimes feel pressured to be something else entirely than who they are. And they miss out on the wonderful notion of simply being themselves without apology, without the need to contort their ideal self into a shape deemed more pleasing [intellectually or physically or spiritually]. But I think that happens to boys too.

Strict gender roles suck.

19 09 2011
JJ

Yes, learning to dance with democracy is for boys, too:

A time to dance, in freedom. It’s serial power of story, this learn-to-dance theme, crafted over time in far-flung yet close-to-home pieces like Dickens telling his own life story in fiction, or Sherlock Holmes brought to life in the old Strand Magazine.

Or maybe it’s the homey yet naturally diverse “progressive dinner” . . .like those social meals my parents enjoyed in quiet college towns, friends and fellows trouping from home to home as the evening progresses to partake of distinctively different but equally delightful courses, all variations on a universal theme. Each host in turn becomes everyone else’s guest, and a fine time is had by all. . .

[P]ower of story is an internationally inclusive progressive dinner, a timeless serial story told with creative, meaningful nuance, cultural sensitivity and — dance!

19 09 2011
bpbproadrunner

Yes.

19 09 2011
JJ

Beep, I particularly like your likening martial (war) arts to dance. Martial arts and dance are intimately connected disciplines, for sure. I want to think more about that.

My first thought was, the Dance of Death connects them!

The number of characters and the composition of the dance vary. . . .Below or above the picture are painted verses by which death adresses its victim. He often talks in a threatening and accusing tone, sometimes also cynic and sarcastic. Then comes the argument of the Man, full of remorse and despair, crying for mercy. But death leads everyone into the dance: [clerics as well as] . . .emperors, kings, dukes, counts, knights, doctors, merchants, usurers, robbers, peasants, and even innocent children. Death does not care for the social position, nor for the richness, sex, or age of the people it leads into its dance. It is often represented with a musical instrument. . . the tempting, a little diabolic, enchanting power of music. Think of the sirens’ song, of the flute player of Hameln, etc. Like them, death charms mankind with its music.

And I see there is at least one international form of martial art described as “dancelike” — “Capoeira, a dancelike Brazilian discipline whose movements are performed to rhythmic music, is gaining in popularity.”

OTOH, I wonder if the physical and mental rhythms being similar might lull us into misunderstanding how different dancing and fighting are, in their essence? In why we do them and why we teach our kids as individuals and as cultures and generations to do them, what these disciplines (arts?) do to the world and to our shared humanity, maybe even who we become and how we do that ultimate Dance with Death waiting for all of us at the end? There’s so much war talk in these tough times, both literal and symbolic. We’re militarily (martially) at war all over the globe, as Paul Ryan this very week accuses the President of “class warfare” as his new Buffett Rule is put forward. Hot wars and cold wars and class wars and wars of mere words that injure and kill too — thinking about teen suicides from verbal bullying, lies told at the UN that mislead us to real war or to set us fighting among ourselves, for example.

Last night I passed this place again. A dozen serious young students in white, and I noticed how tall and slender yet well-proportioned, uniform in physique as well as, well, uniform!

Did they self-select into something that suited their body type in the first place, or did this activity affect how they grew and developed, making them better in such predictable ways that after the fact, it seemed they were born to it?

Which came first, I mused. The kickin’ or the edge? [groan]

And does that answer, whatever it may be, apply to our politics and religion, what attracts and repels us in life as we wind up living it, fashions and friends and mates and careers?

Everything is connected . . .

Hmmm, another connection: the mighty Ronald Reagan who lived out Hollywood war movies while commander in chief, had a professional dancer son. 😉 And there was that absurd video of belligerent “armed and dangerous” spy-behind-enemy-lines-at-the-IRS presidential contender Michele Bachmann, shagging on stage with giggly husband Marcus the gay whisperer, who surely wouldn’t have been able to serve in the military even if he didn’t tell, once they saw him dance?

19 09 2011
bpbproadrunner

Lots to think about.

I liked the utilitarianism of martial arts. It teaches you a mental discipline, it hones your hand/eye coordination, it works the body and strengthens it while simultaneously maintaining flexibility, and it can be a method of self defense if need be.

But mostly in this day and age, it is all those other things first. Even in sparring you don’t really fight. It is not a life and death situation.

It definitely brings a person fully into the body-consciousness. And it can put one in an altered state of consciousness, a sort of meditation.

But what people do with martial arts, what the do with dance as individuals says more about them, than it does about dance or martial arts in general.

The disturbing visual of certain political nutters–yick.
I cannot imagine them dancing for anything good. I cannot imagine them up to anything good.

19 09 2011
JJ

Beep: I liked the utilitarianism of martial arts. . . .and it can be a method of self defense if need be.

But mostly in this day and age, it is all those other things first. Even in sparring you don’t really fight. It is not a life and death situation.

Hmmm, so you don’t think that the same thing that attracted you to the martial arts also attracted you to enlist in the actual life-and-death fighting military? Or was it more economic survival than literal physical survival?

19 09 2011
JJ

Don’t tell me if you’d rather not. I didn’t mean for that to sound challenging. I’d really like to know more about how you see it, so I can think about it, add it to my perspective-bank as it were.

20 09 2011
bpbproadrunner

It was more economic survival. Although I was disappointed when I found out I was ineligible for certain jobs as a female. This was many years ago so….

There was no other way I was going to go to college. I didn’t have the grades or the money. And I had no marketable skills [long story]. So I did my time in the military.

It is very common for blue collar kids to do that. The military knows it, everyone else knows it.

20 09 2011
JJ

Yes. Over the years Nance has helped educate me about how military recruiting in schools takes full advantage of that.

Economic survival is life and death, too.

Our martial art — mine and Young Son’s — turned out to be fencing, a graceful dancelike discipline in funny clothes today, but for centuries fencing was real fighting to the bloody death, in funny clothes. 😉

And although fencing is arguably the most esoteric martial “art” because it isn’t even useful as real-life self-defense much less warfare these days, it’s still “martial” and connects to the modern military — it’s an Olympic sport for which national teams including the USA, tend to draw from their military. I found this 1926 film snippet of a military exhibition between the UK and USA (except for hats and shoes, these civilian spectators and military fencers could almost have dressed this morning, not 75 years ago. Wonder what that should tell us?)

Of course the bagpipes are martial art in the same sense — came from real life-and-death war and today continues to draw heavily from military tradition and personnel — in funny clothes that can get you killed if you wear them to school! It’s not dance but it’s certainly art. And the bagpipes can be played FOR dancing, in a ceilidh band . . .

Then Footloose comes to mind, hmmm. A young, undisciplined-in-dress-and-hair Kevin Bacon comes to town where a holy war on dance has been declared. So he fights back for his own survival, because he can’t live without dance. But now I’m picturing an older Kevin Bacon with crewcut and full military regalia and ramrod bearing, in court martial as military prosecutor . . . playing Jack ROSS! (Good name, Ross)

Jack Ross (b. 1958) was a Captain in the US Marines and served as the prosecuting attorney in the 1992 court-martial of two Marines. . . Ross is an avid basketball player and dancer.

It all connects and I didn’t even need Six Degrees! 😀

Resonance comes from the Latin word resonare, to resound. [like orchestrating great dance music for a ballet or ceilidh!]

. . .I hope home education advocates and Thinking Parents of all styles will begin to connect neurological science of human relationships to leadership and learning issues throughout our culture. (How stupid would we need to be NOT to??)

Maybe then in all our degrees of diversity and separation, we may begin to resonate with good vibrations and connect on the dance floor, or at least at the buffet.

20 09 2011
bpbproadrunner

Well many may think that the recruiters are taking advantage of poverty. But when you are poor and your prospects are few. The military is a way out. I think that tracking plays a big part in this. I was tracked for the lower tier as a child in school. So it was decided long before I ever got the notion to try and prove myself, that my future would be bleak. So going into the service was a good choice out of all the other potential choices. Even with all the stuff that wasn’t so great, it was still better than remaining poor with NO access to any college, no world travel, no training, no exposure to any other culture or country than the small towns in the US.

22 09 2011
JJ

when you are poor and your prospects are few

Bingo. Same set-up inherent in both. Society ought to be ashamed.

22 09 2011
bpbproadrunner

I was never approached by a recruiter. There were no booths set up in school or offices. I do not believe I ever recall seeing a ROTC group at that school either.

I had to drive into the city to take my tests and to talk to the recruiters. Months after I joined, and almost a year after I had graduated, I got a call from the Marines but I was already in the DEP program and waiting for my departure date for bootcamp.

22 09 2011
JJ

I saw Emmitt Smith (my Gator!) interviewed last week by Joe Scarborough. They’re both from the Pensacola FL area so they were talking about that, how poor and without prospects Emmitt grew up yet how well life has turned out. At school and at home he was quite clear on his limited prospects. He said he very nearly went into the military and school football was the only other way out, to get to college and “see the world.”

Both are systemically exploitative of capable, hardworking poor young folks.

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