Monday, February 18, 2013

Le deuxième sexe

Where were you born, when? What kind of "upbringing" did you have? How much "socialization?" How did you learn about the world, how do you learn about it now? All these "factors" go into our worldview, our ideology, our way of perceiving, filtering, interpreting "reality." So it's no surprise that people -- those who publically share how they think about perception and ideology -- tend to emphasize one or two elements and neglect others. "Race." "Gender." "Socio-eocnomic class." "Religion." "Sexual orientation." "Disabled Status." Political theory -- or political "leanings." Dispositions. Preferences. Response to the "laws of the land," especially those contested or challenged. All worth thinking about, as a mix and blend just as much -- more so, as far as I'm concerned -- than as isolated or stand-alone ingredients. The whole is greater than its constituent parts. Strength through diversity, as it were.  

Year of birth, location, situation. Consider that in 1967, Loving vs. Virginia overturned the status quo about "race relations" in the USA: henceforth, "mixed" couples could be together without being criminalized.

Consider that in the previous year, James Brown scored a hit with "It's a Man's Man's Man's World."

Some of the lyrics:

You see man made the cars
To take us over the world
Man made the train
To carry the heavy load
Man made the electric lights
To take us out of the dark . . .

This is a man's world
But it would be nothing, nothing
Not one little thing
Without a woman to care . . .

Consider that "adult women" (21+) could only begin voting throughout the entire United States in 1920. 

Consider that "black people" (then considered anyone with any degree of African ancestry -- did that include those of "white" African ancestry, too?) were "guaranteed" equal protection as citizens in 1868 (a direct result of secession and the American Civil War).

Consider a core component of the XV (15th / Fifteenth) Amendment to the US Constitution (1870):

The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.  [Note: women therein obviously not conceived of as citizens, nor anyone under 21].

Consider the case of the War of 1812 veteran who purportedly killed Tecumseh in battle -- Colonel, Congressman, Senator and US Vice President Richard Mentor Johnson (1780-1850) and his "common law" wife, Julia Chinn, who happened to be "black" (or "mulatto," as she was sometimes characterized at the time).

1) They were never formally married.
2) They were an "interracial couple."
3) They had at least two daughters (Imogene and Adaline/Adeline).

Consider that upon is death, Johnson was honored with a considerable obelisk in the Frankfurt (Kentucky) Cemetery, but that after her death in 1833, Julia Chinn (without recorded birthdate) received no marker at all (so far as I can determine). Also, she'd been his father's slave. But unlike South Carolina Senator and presidential candidate Strom Thurmond (1902-2003), Johnson was quite open about his "crossing of racial barriers" in his own time and place while he (and she) lived. 

Now, pluck Julia Chinn and Richard Mentor Johnson out of their time and place and drop them into the world of 2013.  What would be different? What might be the same? How much would it matter whether they lived in Paducah or New York City, Palookaville or Phoenix, Arizona?  

Today's Rune: Journey. Pictured above: the latest English language edition of Simone de Beauvoir's The Second Sex, originally published in French in 1949 as Le Deuxième Sexe (Tome I as Les Faits et les Mythes).         

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