Women in History and the Things We Don’t Know

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Common long time fodder for comedians and pundits alike is the threadbare cliche about how men don’t understand women.   Unless you have been hiding under a rock for the last century, you  have been treated to a surfeit of sketches, the articles, and the stand up routines depicting women as mysterious creatures we simply can’t understand.   Funny?  Sometimes.

But the fact remains that what we really haven’t a clue about is woman’s actual role in history and culture.   I am not talking about the kitchen queen of the fifties or the Woman’s Lib activists of the 60’s and 70’s.    Despite the fact we have a dog’s sense of history and fifty years ago appear like ancient times, there are patterns of acculturation and the roll out of historical events that have gone on for centuries.   And for what we know of those decades, we know so little about the female role in society and civilization.

It is fair to say a great deal of woman’s history has been suppressed.  Hence lecturer, author and vaunted historian, Max Dashu, has compiled over decades boundless information about woman’s role in society.   That is in societies around the world.    Dashu’s website, Suppressed Histories Archives is a daunting work, revealing boundless information about woman’s role in society, almost since time began.

Dashu has compiled images of all sorts and created lectures or presentations oriented toward myriad issues and cases in history.    There are some 15,000 slides and 100 different shows.  Dashu has lectured at colleges and universities as well as to a variety of organizations both in the United States and around the world.  She has created a fascinating DVD, and is currently working on a book series.

For history buffs and for those who think they have an understanding of womens culture, well here is an eye opener.   And for those women who are curious about their universal culture and societal heritage, this is a treasure for the mind.    This is complex subject matter, not some simplistic jargon in the latest fashion magazine.   And Dashu offers detailed analysis of some of the more complex issues of the past and how they affect our culture today.

This is a class act.   And there is no two drink minimum.

Revolution and the Loss of Soft Toilet Paper

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Some years ago I used to joke that America would only launch a revolution should we encounter such catastrophes as the loss of our favorite toilet paper.   Forget the Tax Day Tea Parties and the grousing over bankers’ bonuses.   Those are but minor episodes when compared to the prospect of harsh toilet tissue.  Now it seem there is some truth to that remark, according to an article in the U.K.’s Guardian.

The article maintains that Americans have a love affair with soft toilet paper is made from virgin wood.  Not remnants, nor any recycled material, but pure tree.  In other countries, toilet paper is made from as much as 40% recycled material, but not here.  Here in order to swipe our buttocks in the comfort to which we are accustomed, we need pure, virgin wood for that extra quilted ultra-soft, muti-layered roll of bathroom tissue we reach for with little concern.

Sure, we may make noise about saving the environment, and we go on about saving the trees and developing non-fossil energy forms, but in the end we waste a precious resource each time we wipe our end.    To support this issues, a study reports that there was a 40% increase in the costlier brand of toilet paper in 2008.   The premium brands are often infused with hand lotion or aloe vera.   Seems everything contains aloe vera, these days, but I digress.

As American we already consume more paper than any other country.   It is one thing to use the precious resource for developing majestic theories of life on earth, but quite another to waste itour  on our bodily waste.   With companies spending millions of dollars every year telling us their premium brands  are far superior to the recycled stuff, it is small wonder softer toilet paper is more precious to us than say our Hummers.

I once had an assistant whose very demanding metrosexual boyfriend insisted she run around the city picking up the household products he most desired.   His favorite bathroom tissues was sold, it seemed, at bulk rates at only one big box store.   This tissue was infused with the notorious aloe verga gel.   So to keep him happy, a tough task on a good day, my assistant had to use up what little spare time she had running across town to buy him toilet paper.  Not only was she wrecking trees, but burning gasoline in these senseless journies.

Perhaps this recession is the time when we get our heads on street or at least take our head out of our you know where.  Maybe we will see the light and find we really don’t need to be using virgin wood to accommodate our daily needs.   We can remove our heads from our pampered derrieres and replace them with paper made from recyled products.

The Tax Day Tea Party Ain’t No Revolution

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Yesterday was the Tax Day Tea Party.   Thousands gathered in dozens of different cities to protest the increasingly difficult tax burden on the average citizen.   The protesters gave speeches, held up signs, and threw symbolic tea bags into the waters of the nation.

As what be the case if you threw tiny tea bags into the larger waters of the nation, the Tax Day Tea party was weak.   The call it a Tea Party and model it after the famed Boston Tea Party that helped start the revolution only trivializes itself further.    Despite the homemade signs and the populist atmosphere, this paled in the face of its relative namesake.

For one thing the Colonists took risks.  They didn’t  give speeches or hold up signs.   They stormed the ships by force or sheer volume of numbers and hurled large containers of tea into the Boston Harbor.   They were unruly and destructive.   They defied the law.   They cost the shipping companies money, and they really annoyed the British ruling elements who saw the colonies as their own.

They even dressed like Indians, or Native Americans, if you will, as a vague disguise.   The costumes alone were in themselves a flagrant reproach to British authority.   They did things that could have had them fined or thrown in jail.  In the short of it, they were pissed off, and they showed it.

Supposedly yesterday’s protest was organized by conservative political and social action groups.  Where they were when the past administration was running up the tab simply escapes me.  Not a lot of noise there.   But, nevertheless, conservative, moderate, or liberal, you have the right to be upset.  You have the right to show it.

Let’s face it taxes are insane.  People are hurting and the economy is terrible.  People can barely make it through yet pay for the entitlement programs and myriad expenditure legislators have seen to dump upon us for better or for worse.   When you can’t afford to feed your kids or send your kids to college, then it is tough justifying contributions to what in most minds are abstract rake-ins from every tax branch for reasons ranging from the understandable to the dreadfully ineffective.

But still, calling this a Tea Party?   It’s ironic that the conservative crowd who allegedly takes greater pride in American History saw fit to undermine a great moment in our revolutionary circle with this tepid act.   I understand they want to obey the law, but that in itself contradicts the intent of our forefathers who smashed open the crates and dumped the tea into the harbor.   You can wave a sign, sing a song and otherwise act contrary, but by no means can you hold a proverbial candle to the brave souls who over two hundred years ago boarded those ships in the Boston Harbor.

I’m all for civil disobedience when it is necessary.  If one is an American, then one should believe in revolution.  It is, after all, how this country was born.    But to reference this protest as a Tea Party is like giving every kid in tee-ball a trophy.   You want to have civil disobedience, then have it.  You want to be lawful and make a few speeches, then you can do that.   But don’t confuse the two.

Because if you do, then our forefathers will wonder if you have  a pair, or if they are merely tea bags hiding under your breeches.