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The femininity stamp
This morning I heard Jelly Roll Morton, when I was 1 year old, introduce "Winin' Boy" with the explanation that he had to sing dirty blues in order to ward off "the femininity stamp" due to his playing the piano.  The arts, among the vulgar in Protestant cultures, count as women's territory.

Fancy an Italian or a Spaniard being afraid of compromising his masculinity by playing the piano!  Catholic machismo is crueler to women than Protestant machismo (which, e.g., is less inclined to gang rape & the cult of virginity), but Protestant machismo is far meaner to men.  They have to be terribly watchful of getting tainted by a long list of effeminacies.   They mustn't hug each other or admire each other's looks.

I remember one time, must have been about 1970, being in a barbershop when a young man came in who was spectacularly handsome by conventional standards.  He was the most conspicuous thing in sight, so some comment seemed called for, so eventually one of the chitchatting proles told him he ought to go into show business --- he had a good voice.  The substitution was absurd, but it saved the speaker from the suspicion of being queer.

That kind of thing does seem to be fading.  Times do change.

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When I was in grad. school I starting taking embroidery to some of the lectures, just for something to do with my hands when I didn't have to take notes-- or maybe it was just for between classes, don't remember. This was at Berkeley in the 70s.

I wish I know what had happened to my prize piece. It was a pink short-sleeve button-up shirt. I embroidered the back with a seven-pointed star, with each point a different color of the classical spectrum. Then I decided it needed a better-contrasting background, so I surrounded it with clouds in iirc black and grey, maybe several shades of grey. It seems to have disappeared in one of several moves since then.

It wasn't symbolic. I've doodled heptagrams and other geometric shapes at least since h.s., and my dad taught me the mnemonic VIBGYOR long before I met Roy G. Biv. I don't remember if the rainbow flag was even in use then. ... Wikipedia says it wasn't.

There is a story about a famous professor of psychology (since he denied it, I will not mention his name here) that he was annoyed by a female student who sat in the front row of his class and knitted. He retaliated by working into one of his lectures a casual mention that knitting was a symbolic form of masturbation. She raised her hand and said "Professor ------, when I masturbate, I masturbate, and when I knit, I knit". She returned to her knitting.

I did not pick up the knitting habit from my mother, but at least I grew up taking it for granted that I could sew & darn. (Likewise, I learned from my father that civilians could saw & nail.)

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