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feminist perspective on folk songs

GUEST,Deborah 03 Sep 00 - 12:18 PM
Lox 03 Sep 00 - 12:32 PM
GUEST, Banjo Johnny 03 Sep 00 - 01:36 PM
Roger in Baltimore 03 Sep 00 - 01:52 PM
catspaw49 03 Sep 00 - 02:02 PM
Mbo 03 Sep 00 - 02:05 PM
Peter T. 03 Sep 00 - 02:35 PM
Metchosin 03 Sep 00 - 02:56 PM
Jeri 03 Sep 00 - 02:58 PM
Mbo 03 Sep 00 - 03:04 PM
catspaw49 03 Sep 00 - 03:09 PM
Parson 03 Sep 00 - 03:09 PM
Mrrzy 03 Sep 00 - 03:12 PM
Biskit 03 Sep 00 - 03:31 PM
Jeri 03 Sep 00 - 03:34 PM
catspaw49 03 Sep 00 - 03:57 PM
Peter T. 03 Sep 00 - 04:02 PM
Bud Savoie 03 Sep 00 - 04:08 PM
Ely 03 Sep 00 - 04:54 PM
Noreen 03 Sep 00 - 04:59 PM
GUEST,Deborah 03 Sep 00 - 06:57 PM
Bud Savoie 03 Sep 00 - 07:19 PM
Mbo 03 Sep 00 - 07:19 PM
Groucho Marxist (inactive) 03 Sep 00 - 07:26 PM
Bud Savoie 03 Sep 00 - 07:26 PM
Mbo 03 Sep 00 - 07:33 PM
GUEST 03 Sep 00 - 07:37 PM
flattop 03 Sep 00 - 07:40 PM
GUEST,JTT 03 Sep 00 - 07:42 PM
Jeri 03 Sep 00 - 07:52 PM
Biskit 03 Sep 00 - 07:59 PM
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catspaw49 03 Sep 00 - 08:24 PM
GUEST 03 Sep 00 - 08:29 PM
flattop 03 Sep 00 - 08:35 PM
GUEST,Deborah 03 Sep 00 - 08:42 PM
flattop 03 Sep 00 - 08:53 PM
Biskit 03 Sep 00 - 08:55 PM
catspaw49 03 Sep 00 - 08:59 PM
Biskit 03 Sep 00 - 09:00 PM
Mbo 03 Sep 00 - 09:03 PM
GUEST,Deborah 03 Sep 00 - 09:05 PM
flattop 03 Sep 00 - 09:09 PM
Mary in Kentucky 03 Sep 00 - 10:26 PM
sophocleese 03 Sep 00 - 11:27 PM
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LR Mole 07 Sep 00 - 12:39 PM
Lox 07 Sep 00 - 01:31 PM
folk1234 07 Sep 00 - 03:17 PM
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mousethief 07 Sep 00 - 04:19 PM
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mousethief 07 Sep 00 - 05:25 PM
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GUEST,sula 09 Sep 00 - 07:24 AM
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Susanne (skw) 09 Sep 00 - 09:08 PM
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Subject: feminist perspective on folk songs
From: GUEST,Deborah
Date: 03 Sep 00 - 12:18 PM

In another thread yesterday, somebody mentioned the song "Michael Row The Boat Ashore."

I've been thinking about that song from a feminist perspective and am wondering if there is an anti-woman bias implicit in it, and maybe in other traditional folk songs.

Michael, the male figure in the the song, is clearly named and is given the primary role: rowing the boat.

However, the female figure is just called "sister." And sister's role in the song is just to "help trim the sails."

Thus, the male is clearly identified and has the primary duty, while the female is vaguely identified as a helper.

Therefore, we see a definite male-superior/female-inferior bias in this song.

Is sexism in folk music a reflection of the cultures that produced the songs?

Deborah


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Subject: RE: feminist perspective on folk songs
From: Lox
Date: 03 Sep 00 - 12:32 PM

How do we know that Michael is a man? (Given that we have a princess Michael of Kent here in the UK.)


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Subject: RE: feminist perspective on folk songs
From: GUEST, Banjo Johnny
Date: 03 Sep 00 - 01:36 PM

Typical feminist r-e-a-c-h-i-n-g for every conceivable opportunity to whine. Give it a rest, sister. There are a LOT MORE SERIOUS injustices to women. What if the guy in the song was making the woman row the boat? == Johnny (male) in Oklahoma City


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Subject: RE: feminist perspective on folk songs
From: Roger in Baltimore
Date: 03 Sep 00 - 01:52 PM

Deborah,

Folk music by definition is a product of it's time - a product of people living in that time. Thankfully, current folk music, however you want to define it, has a strong current of gender awareness.

But, historically, when the times were sexist, the music of the people was sexist. When times were racist, the music of the people was racist.

If your looking for songs that are pure, from the feminist perspective, historical folk music is a bad place to look. There are a few great ones, but the alpha male vision predominates. If you are looking for songs that promote a feminist vision, current folk music is an excellent place to look.

If you go up to the top of the forum page, you will see a Search Engine for searching the Digital Tradition Data Base. Type @feminist in the block and press go. You will get over 50 "feminist" songs. Some are historical, but many are new.

Good luck!

Roger in Baltimore


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Subject: RE: feminist perspective on folk songs
From: catspaw49
Date: 03 Sep 00 - 02:02 PM

Expanding RiB's point a bit...........Many of the songs of the mountains reflected the woman's viewpoint of their times. Men were often scoundrels and polygamous, untrustworhty lovers as carried over from the traditional root songs and expanded upon by the mountain women or were the butt of the joke in call and answer songs where the woman almost always had the upper hand.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: feminist perspective on folk songs
From: Mbo
Date: 03 Sep 00 - 02:05 PM

Told ye we were all rotten pigs. Oink oink.


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Subject: RE: feminist perspective on folk songs
From: Peter T.
Date: 03 Sep 00 - 02:35 PM

One of the first things that attracted me to serious folk music was the way in which many of the women in the older traditional songs were way outside the middle class stereotype -- you have to check out Emily Bronte and Thomas Hardy before you get even close. The songs are often pretty unflinching about the days before birth control, about the traps of sex and marriage, and class. The starry-eyed maiden doesn't last long in the cruel world. The folk repertoire is worth 100 pasty Victorian novels. It gets laced with later Puritanism and sentimentality, but still. I would defy people to get some of the themes in the older songs onto the MTV or TNN playlists today in these oh-so-liberated days.

yours, Peter T.


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Subject: RE: feminist perspective on folk songs
From: Metchosin
Date: 03 Sep 00 - 02:56 PM

Agreed Peter, after a rendition of My Husband's Got No Courage in Him, even if he was only flagging a bit, that ditty could result in his never rising to the occasion ever again.


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Subject: RE: feminist perspective on folk songs
From: Jeri
Date: 03 Sep 00 - 02:58 PM

Sexism is a product of culture, IMO, or a lack thereof, and there was loads of it. Personally, I'd like to take Jeannie whatsherface in "Annachie Gordon" and give her a good talking to, although it would require a re-write of the world as well as a time machine. (And a magic songbook that lets me go back into ballads, but lets not go there.) I'd tell her to tell her dad to bugger off, and if he wants Lord Saltine so much, to just marry him himself for crying out loud. Or just run off with Annachie and give up on her white slave-selling parents. I've always wished the ballad had a different ending, but even if she ran off with Annachie, he'd probably turn out to be a couch-rooted slug who only talked to her to demand another tankard full.

And what about "Oh Suzannah?" I'm off to California"...right. What about her? Why doesn't she just say "Whatever, dear. I've been meaning to take that trip to Paris, anyway. Have fun with your banjo."


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Subject: RE: feminist perspective on folk songs
From: Mbo
Date: 03 Sep 00 - 03:04 PM

At least your banjo will never leave you brokenhearted and alone.


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Subject: RE: feminist perspective on folk songs
From: catspaw49
Date: 03 Sep 00 - 03:09 PM

Ya' never know...........Maybe you bore the hell out of your banjo too and it gives up and suffers a breakdown.....so to speak.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: feminist perspective on folk songs
From: Parson
Date: 03 Sep 00 - 03:09 PM

How about the Bluegrass song, "It Wasn't God Who Make Honky Tonk Women." It's in answer to an earlier, "Honky Tonk Women" song. The second one is pretty feminist. That is, the "It Wasn't God..." version is feminist. Wish I could remember who did it. The tune is to the old Gospel song, "Great Speckled Bird."

Randall


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Subject: RE: feminist perspective on folk songs
From: Mrrzy
Date: 03 Sep 00 - 03:12 PM

Deborah, I think the short answer is Of Course...


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Subject: RE: feminist perspective on folk songs
From: Biskit
Date: 03 Sep 00 - 03:31 PM

Angels! Honky Tonk Angels. and by the way Guest Debborah,you can open my doors and pick up the tab for dinner too......only if it'll make you feel better though. *grin,chuckle* peace through understanding-Biskit-


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Subject: feminist perspective: Michael Row the Boat Ashore
From: Jeri
Date: 03 Sep 00 - 03:34 PM

But WHY was Michael rowing that boat?

Possible explanations include Sally winning the arm-wrestling match to see who would row, Sally being only 10 years old and not much good at rowing, but handy with a pair of scissors, (isn't that how you trim sails?) or maybe it was just Michael's turn. The most likely explanation is included in these little known verses of the song. These were collected in the 50's from the clam-boat crews off the Isle of Langerhans:

They're out there on that boat alone
And Michael left his map at home

Mary said we need some course corrections
Why don't you go and ask directions

He refused to do that simple task
Said "Mary, I'll row, if you will ask."
Sorry. In all seriousness, old songs are full of ideas unacceptable today - practically any "ism" you can name. It's a measure of how far we've come that some of the ideas bother us. I wonder what ideas in songs of today will bother us in the future.


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Subject: RE: feminist perspective on folk songs
From: catspaw49
Date: 03 Sep 00 - 03:57 PM

Generally too, if you're sailing, there ain't much need for rowing. Unless you get into a dead calm, and then you're more likely to be sculling....forward motion produced by forcing the rudder back and forth.

Why did they want to be ashore anyhow? Was there a lack of wind? Did Mike have an appointment somewhere? What's the deal here anyway?

Spaw


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Subject: RE: feminist perspective on folk songs
From: Peter T.
Date: 03 Sep 00 - 04:02 PM

Kitty Wells is the answer ("It wasn't God...).

yours, Peter T.


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Subject: RE: feminist perspective on folk songs
From: Bud Savoie
Date: 03 Sep 00 - 04:08 PM

Maybe Michael wanted to get to shore to dump that whining woman.


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Subject: RE: feminist perspective on folk songs
From: Ely
Date: 03 Sep 00 - 04:54 PM

"Honky Tonk Angels" is a response to "Wild Side of Life", just to clarify (recorded by Hank Thompson, but I forget who wrote it).

I always assumed "Michael" was a specific Michael, a Saint or an angel or something (forgive me, I know zip about the Bible), and that the song might be a specific reference or analogy to something he did in the Bible, but I don't know what I'm talking about. Anyway, I never thought it was sexist.

Southern women definitely get their digs in when they have to. Hazel Dickens' "Tomorrow's Already Gone", "Come All You Fair and Tender Ladies", and the like.

Frankly, the most sexist songs seem to be comparatively recent C&W or bluegrass stuff, like "Wild Side of Life", to me.


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Subject: RE: feminist perspective on folk songs
From: Noreen
Date: 03 Sep 00 - 04:59 PM

LOL Jeri- not many people know of the traditions from the Islets of Langerhans- a very insular people. I believe their version didn't include the reference to 'milk and honey on the other side'- can you confirm this?

Noreen


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Subject: RE: feminist perspective on folk songs
From: GUEST,Deborah
Date: 03 Sep 00 - 06:57 PM

I'd like to thank those of you who provided a thoughtful response to my posting.

But I must say to Banjo Johnny and Mbo that I found your responses to be quite offensive. If you disagree with me, that's fine. Provide an argument. Responding in the way you did just makes you look like complete assholes.

To everyone else, I'm sorry for being so blunt. I would think that a discussion on issues pertaining to the cultural and historical perspective of folk music would be welcome at Mudcat, that it should be more than just lists of favorite folk singers.

Deborah


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Subject: RE: feminist perspective on folk songs
From: Bud Savoie
Date: 03 Sep 00 - 07:19 PM

Deborah, Mudcatters are incurable busters and are going to come down on you and me and everyone else. It's the most jolly give-and-take website I know, and most of it is good-natured teasing. The thin-skinned get offended and leave quickly. Best is to come back with a snappy response if you can; if not, just ignore the post and get on.


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Subject: RE: feminist perspective on folk songs
From: Mbo
Date: 03 Sep 00 - 07:19 PM

I was serious. If being serious equals being an "asshole" then so be it. But you won't find me singing any male chauvanistic or feministic songs. Thank you.

--Matt


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Subject: RE: feminist perspective on folk songs
From: Groucho Marxist (inactive)
Date: 03 Sep 00 - 07:26 PM

Mbo,

What you said was: "Told ye we were all rotten pigs. Oink oink"

Based on that, I agree with Deborah. You just come off like a silly juvenile.

Deborah,

Yes, folk music is a reflection of the culture from which it came. "Michael Row the Boat Ashore" is a song that dates back to slavery time. Male and female equality was a long way off. It's actually a beautiful song, though.

Groucho


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Subject: RE: feminist perspective on folk songs
From: Bud Savoie
Date: 03 Sep 00 - 07:26 PM

Me neither, Mbo. But if Deborah is going to get all ticked off every time someone tosses her a load of doo-doo, she's not going to like Mudcat very much.


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Subject: RE: feminist perspective on folk songs
From: Mbo
Date: 03 Sep 00 - 07:33 PM

Good, I'll nip out and shoot myself now. Sorry for the offense.


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Subject: RE: feminist perspective on folk songs
From: GUEST
Date: 03 Sep 00 - 07:37 PM

I think Mbo is kind of funny. He writes with a kind of intelligence that is rarely seen in 11 year olds.


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Subject: RE: feminist perspective on folk songs
From: flattop
Date: 03 Sep 00 - 07:40 PM

If the song was written today, what boating roles would it describe for men and women?


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Subject: RE: feminist perspective on folk songs
From: GUEST,JTT
Date: 03 Sep 00 - 07:42 PM

Considering that mickey is a synonym for the male organ, I think we have something even more sinister here; the suggestion of the all-powerful mickey able even to row a boat is enough to riz any decent feminist. Especially with that triumphalist, phallocratic "Halleluia". And what's all this about "Sister, help to trim the sails"? What exactly is going on here, I'd like to know? "Milk and honey on the other side"? Huh?


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Subject: RE: feminist perspective on folk songs
From: Jeri
Date: 03 Sep 00 - 07:52 PM

I honest-to-goodness thought this was a wind-up. There are plenty of chauvanistic songs out there, but Michael Row the Boat ain't one of 'em, in my opinion. I would have picked one of those "women-caused-all-my-problems-and-none-of-it-was-my-fault" (gimme a minute - I'll think of one) or "woman-gives-guy-clap-and-who-cares-that-a-guy-gave-it-to-her" (The Fireship) or a "my-husband-beats-the-hell-out-of-me-but-he's-a-great-guy-otherwise" (Blue Bleezin' Blind Drunk) songs. Michael pales by comparison.


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Subject: RE: feminist perspective on folk songs
From: Biskit
Date: 03 Sep 00 - 07:59 PM

Another way to look at is he"NEEDS" sister help to trim the sails. I personaly can't think of anything more important in this life than the ability to be useful. And that,..has no gender bouderies


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Subject: RE: feminist perspective on folk songs
From: Biskit
Date: 03 Sep 00 - 08:02 PM

I mean Bounderies *X*-Biskit-


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Subject: RE: feminist perspective on folk songs
From: Biskit
Date: 03 Sep 00 - 08:15 PM

It seems to me, that any time you put (ism/ist)on any word describing a group...well there's gonna be trouble. Fanatasisim in any form,is narrow minded,tunnel visioned thinking,whether it involves race.religion,ethnic background, or financial station.


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Subject: RE: feminist perspective on folk songs
From: catspaw49
Date: 03 Sep 00 - 08:24 PM

I'm still confused over why we're rowing a sailboat.

Seriously, I read a book awhile back that keeps popping up in my thoughts on this subject. I think the name is "Finding Our voice;A History of Women in Country Music" and it covered the earliest roots of country and traced this very subject quite well. I think I'll go check it out again. I enjoyed it the first time around, but now I think I want to go back and read selected chapters.

BTW, the Kitty Wells "Answer" to Wild Side of Life (Hinky Tonk Angels) was the first of several "answer" songs to male releases of that time period. Even Cousin Minnie Pearl got into the act with "Giddy-Up Go-Answer." The reality of the situation was that many of the female C-W women of that time were very strong willed and tough individuals (which was kinda' necessary) and while not feminists in today's parlance, sure as hell came close!!!

Spaw


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Subject: RE: feminist perspective on folk songs
From: GUEST
Date: 03 Sep 00 - 08:29 PM

Mbo is only 11?

I thought he was just a jerk.


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Subject: RE: feminist perspective on folk songs
From: flattop
Date: 03 Sep 00 - 08:35 PM

If Michaels rowing and sister is trimming the sail, either the wind has died down or they haven't been tacking properly and getting michael to row is the fastest way home.

My question was a serious one. I live in a house on a marina that has about 300 boats. When the sailboats pass my window on the canal into Lake Simcoe, usually a man steers and a woman sits up front with her legs spread apart. I don't know why, something to do with sailing. Yachts and motorboats usually have men driving, except when a couple of women are heading out by themselves. I have two single seater kayaks so whoever goes for a ride gets to paddle and steer. That also means that I have to talk to my neighbours when I want to fool around with naughtical jargon.


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Subject: RE: feminist perspective on folk songs
From: GUEST,Deborah
Date: 03 Sep 00 - 08:42 PM

Again, my thanks to those who provided a thoughtful reply to my posting.

To clarify, though, I was not really trying to pick on "Michael Row The Boat Ashore." I have been thinking about this issue for some time and used that song as an example because I was reminded of it when someone made a comment about it in another thread.

I've been lurking on Mudcat for a couple of weeks before starting to post and I've seen a lot of very nasty stuff here. I was just trying to start an interesting discussion, but certain people had to be nasty or turn it into a joke. It's sad to me that some Mudcats won't tolerate an intelligent discussion


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Subject: RE: feminist perspective on folk songs
From: flattop
Date: 03 Sep 00 - 08:53 PM

(Hey, I didn't mean to send the last one yet, I hit the button too soon.)

I can't ask my neighbours about jargon right now because they have an imitation Elvis performing. He started up about 6:30 but seemed to have mechanical difficulties. A few minutes ago, two hours after his original start, I hear his voice again over the PA.

Last night the boaters had a DJ setup not too far from my house. I tried to ignore them and work on my computer but, after dark, a cardboard cutout of an ocean liner, lit up with christmas lights and attached to a motor boat, sailed past my window. That was too much for me. I went over to see what they were up to.

Many of the boaters looked like any perfectly normal family would with a pile of booze on a picnic table. They were often centered around the grandparents who own the boats. Teenagers were running around. A smaller culture centered around beer guzzling, pot bellied men who make their women sit out the dances so that they can yell 'Oooii' at other pot bellied beer drinking men and occasionally get each other into headlocks. At time the women dance with each other and at other times they drag a man to the dance floor.

This Elvis is painful. They let him sing because he's a boater. I can barely hear him but he's making me wince. Gotta go close some windows.


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Subject: RE: feminist perspective on folk songs
From: Biskit
Date: 03 Sep 00 - 08:55 PM

By intelligence do you mean in complete agreement with the way you think??Just about the only thing I will not tolerate is intolerence. And from my experience on the mudcat, most folks here feel the same way.Thats the beautiful thing about the mudcat,you can have your opinion and I can have mine,we both have a right to express our opinions,you may like part or none of mine,or I may like none or part of yours, of course if I like part of yours,then it's ours.*Peace (through understanding -Biskit-


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Subject: RE: feminist perspective on folk songs
From: catspaw49
Date: 03 Sep 00 - 08:59 PM

Well Deborah, there have been several posts on this thread so far that are addressing your topic. Respond to them and continue. Ignore the others. Jeri has a couple of points as do Ely, Parson, several others and indeed myself. Look at my last post and at the others and take it from there......

Spaw


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Subject: RE: feminist perspective on folk songs
From: Biskit
Date: 03 Sep 00 - 09:00 PM

Not to change the subject....but does anyone other than me feel like doing a HearMe tonight??-Biskit-


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Subject: RE: feminist perspective on folk songs
From: Mbo
Date: 03 Sep 00 - 09:03 PM

There are a few there already.


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Subject: RE: feminist perspective on folk songs
From: GUEST,Deborah
Date: 03 Sep 00 - 09:05 PM

Biskit,

Please read up this thread to my second posting. To reiterate, I said that I have no problem with anyone providing a different opinion.

Spaw,

I did say that I'm appreciative of those who have provided a thoughtful response.

I just don't see why every discussion has to be turned into a joke. It only serves to dissuade participation.

Deborah


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Subject: RE: feminist perspective on folk songs
From: flattop
Date: 03 Sep 00 - 09:09 PM

I'm trying to make a serious point Deborah, but nobody seems to be listening. In spite of the political rhetoric we often play comfortable roles. If the song was written honestly today, it would probably have gender roles.


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Subject: Lyr Add: HARD IS THE FORTUNE
From: Mary in Kentucky
Date: 03 Sep 00 - 10:26 PM

I agree with Spaw's first post about mountain women. I really don't know why I like "Hard is the Fortune" (Wagoner Lad) so much, I always thought it was the tune...but perhaps the words also speak to all women...

HARD IS THE FORTUNE
(traditional)

Hard is the fortune of all womankind.
She's always controlled, she's always confined.
Controlled by her parents, until she's a wife,
Then a slave to her husband, the rest of her life.

My horses are hungry, they won't eat your hay.
So goodbye little darlin' I'm going away.
Your parents don't like me, they say I'm too poor,
They say I'm not worthy, to enter your door.^^^


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Subject: RE: feminist perspective on folk songs
From: sophocleese
Date: 03 Sep 00 - 11:27 PM

Wow! I read your first post this morning Deborah and then went out for the day. I just came back to it now and noticed that it had garnered 45 posts during the day. Not a small number. Ignore Mbo, he's being grouchy all over the place, not just here.

The topic of feminism in folk songs is interesting and you've gotten some neat replies and songs to think about. A whle ago Peter T. started a thread about women performers and asked whether they faced hurdles in folk music similar to the ones present in other types of music. After looking through the programs for two festivals this summer I can certainly say that women performers represent less than 50% of all the performers in those festivals. That the prime times for performances, those with largest audience numbers for a solo mainstage concert, are overwhelmingly dominated by male performers. That both festivals had a token women's workshop of some kind, clearly labelled "Women...." but that workshops labelled "Songwriters", "Guitarists" are more likely to have no women in them...

Whoops letting the wine talk there.

However taking a single song alone and taking it apart isn't a great way to go about looking for an attitude present in such a large group as folk songs. As the discussion of Matty Groves has shown us its possible to take an old song and present in such a way as to emphasize a particular view point. You might like to check out earlier threads about folk song collecting. Certainly prevalent attitudes about women's place in society, and about proper relationships between men and women, helped dictate which songs got into collections and which didn't.

Personally I think that there are a lot more interesting and varied men and women in folk songs than there are in a lot of rock, pop music. Stereotypes exist but alternatives also exist.


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Subject: RE: feminist perspective on folk songs
From: CamiSu
Date: 03 Sep 00 - 11:55 PM

Since the bias exists with the songs, we have the choice to sing or not aswe feel like it. Most of these songs just report the way things were. Specific to Michael Row.. it always seemed to me that Michael and sister needed to work together. I had always assumed that Michael wasthe angel and sister was any woman who was listening to him and helping out, and as such indicated that the women were often a bit more tuned in to what was neede to be done. Now I have found out that the song comes from the Georgia barrier islands, where blacks first owned land and where Gullah is spoken. There is no way out there except by boat, and my experience is that the winds are a bit dicey in an area like that, but that a sail is still a big help in making the rowing easier.

Don't know about the guy steering/gal sunning bit. I was taught to navigate and steer at a very early age, but did spend my share of time riding the pulpit, as well. It's just plain fun up there.

However Deborah, to get back to your question, yes the bias is there, but if you change the songs without preserving the original, you also rewrite history. I think we need to be aware of how it was to see how far we've come, and remember we still have a way to go. We also need to be aware of places where we do go too far. Equal rights is just that, and I have seen some men and boys marginalized in the name of equality.

Peace


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Subject: RE: feminist perspective on folk songs
From: Bagpuss
Date: 04 Sep 00 - 07:42 AM

I thought Mbo's comment was funny too. I find it strange how people find it hard to distinguish between a little jokey humour and an insult. It reminds me of a joke:

Q: How many feminists does it take to change a lightbulb?

A: (feminist) I don't know, but it's not funny!

I think the boats role in the song is more interesting. In French folk songs "getting into a boat" with a boy is a euphimism for losing your virginity (like having a man steal your thyme is in British songs). And wearing a red petticoat is becoming a prostitute. Does anyone else know any interesting metaphors in folk song?

Bagpuss


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Subject: RE: feminist perspective on folk songs
From: Bagpuss
Date: 04 Sep 00 - 08:05 AM

Re isles of Langerhans: did they get there but sailing up the bloodstream?

Bagpuss


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Subject: RE: feminist perspective on folk songs
From: pastorpest
Date: 04 Sep 00 - 10:10 AM

This is an mportant subject! Guest Deborah, you have openned an important can! It never occurred to me to think about "Michael Rowed the Boat" in your way, but I agree with you. I have come to like the songs of Connie Kaldor, partly because I get to experience things from a woman's point of view.

Two decades ago my denomination sent out a documnet to all clergy asking us to examine our sermons for inclusive language and to examine stories and illustrations in those sermons. Oh what I learned about myself going back through old sermons! In my life time, even in a church committed to inclusiveness and equality, the task of liberating our faith from patriarchy will not even be close to being done. But working on the task has personal rewards.

Folk music has a history of servivng justice and liberation. It has a good fit with women's issues. Because songs help us both think and feel issues, there are contributions to be made here beyond just discussing the issues. We can experience another's point of view, joys, pains, etc.


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Subject: RE: feminist perspective on folk songs
From: Grab
Date: 04 Sep 00 - 10:49 AM

Version I heard as a kid had "brother" and "sister" verses, although maybe that's a recent addition. Anyway, as BJ says, would you prefer the woman to be doing the hard work while the guy sits back trimming the sail? Would this merely reflect the fact that when there's hard physical work to do, the man is normally the one doing it, cos he's stronger? Care to deny this? find me any athletics event where women compete on an equal footing with men.

A more valid complaint is the tyranny of the old over the young, and of the rich over the poor. Consider "Step it out Mary" - Mary and her lover drown themselves cos her father insists on her marriage, and the prime culprit is the squire/lord who thinks he can buy her. Oh, and the tyranny of the armed forces over men by press-gang and conscription - that's one thing the women didn't have to worry about (although rape and pillage certainly would be a concern).

There's a fair selection of stuff out there, though. There's songs about the manipulation and/or betrayal of men by women (Black velvet band, Whiskey in the jar) and vice versa (original House of the rising sun). I'd guess that for most songs about women being done wrong, there's others about men being done wrong.

Note that I'm not denying the sexism of the last few hundred years is unpleasant - I find discrimination extremely distasteful. But discrimination takes other forms, and the discrimination which causes ppl to offer jobs to women instead of men, or to coloured ppl over whites, is just as bad as anything going the other way. Show me a campaign organised by feminists to encourage men to become house-husbands, and I'll give feminism a lot more respect. And for god's sake, stop this ridiculous trend of "Women's literature", "Women's history", etc. If there's great literature written by women (and there is plenty!), or great acts done by women (ditto) then they'll feature in literature or history, full stop. If they don't, then the plan CANNOT be to create a separate course for them, otherwise equality can NEVER occur. And you do want equality, don't you?

Grab.


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Subject: RE: feminist perspective on folk songs
From: dulcimer
Date: 04 Sep 00 - 11:18 AM

Maybe what any performer ought to consider in performing a song is his/her role in perpetuating the message of the song. And issues here abound. "Michael Rowed" would seem can have several levels with several messages and it always seemed like such an innocent little song. If you like the song simply for its artistic flavor and sing it, are perpetuating chauvanism? If you sing it around a campfire that provides a socializing experience, are you promoting sterotypes of male/female roles? If you don't perform a song because it has some ethnic or racially currently inappropriate words or change the words, are you hiding and distorting the past? Do you endorse the viewpoint of a song, simply by performing it? This forum has certainly considered these issues many times, but I think it is important for each performer to think about what his/her songs says and when and where they are performing it. With any song there are always going to reasons to perform it and reasons not to perform it.


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Subject: RE: feminist perspective on folk songs
From: WyoWoman
Date: 04 Sep 00 - 11:30 AM

I have an idea, Deborah. Why don't you go ahead and join the Mudcat and get out of the "guest" mode? It's so much nicer to have someone who is so obviously interested in deep, serious, intellectually challenging discussions, as you SO obviously are -- even though your question was answered by about post #4 -- become a full member of the 'Cat, with all its attendant responsibilities and privileges.

WW


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Subject: RE: feminist perspective on folk songs
From: Biskit
Date: 04 Sep 00 - 12:40 PM

Well put Grab,Oh and by the way Deborah,A hearty, warm and love filled welcome. -Biskit-


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Subject: RE: feminist perspective on folk songs
From: Roger in Baltimore
Date: 04 Sep 00 - 03:52 PM

There are many offensive songs, just as there are offensive people. Most of the time we get to choose the songs we sing and the songs to which we listen. If a song offends you, then you put it away. If you fear it offends others, you can put it away.

Jeri was wondering about songs more offensive to women. I think the blues provides some of that. I immediately think of this line: "I feel like snappin' a pistol, babe, in your face. You know that graveyard will be your restin' place. That woman is killin' me, she's killin' me by degrees." Why would anyone stay in that relationship, man or woman? Beats me.

I am attracted to the powerful way the statement is made. Is he angry! You bet he is! Would I sing it? I don't think so. Would I listen to it again? In a heartbeat.

Roger in Baltimore


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Subject: RE: feminist perspective on folk songs
From: Biskit
Date: 04 Sep 00 - 09:05 PM

Thats why they call `em the "Blues" Roger If all was hunky dorrie and everbody was gettin along, they'd have to call it somethin' else.-Biskit-


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Subject: RE: feminist perspective on folk songs
From: GUEST,John
Date: 04 Sep 00 - 09:23 PM

Has anyone yet pointed out that Michael is DYING? Does anyone really want to demand to switch places with him?


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Subject: RE: feminist perspective on folk songs
From: Jon Freeman
Date: 04 Sep 00 - 09:32 PM

Tell me something, if the song went,

Michelle row the boat ashore...
Brother help to trim the sail...

Who whould make an issue of it - the men or the femanists?

Jon


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Subject: RE: feminist perspective on folk songs
From: Mbo
Date: 04 Sep 00 - 09:42 PM

Well let me tell you, I rarely ever drive without my sister who acts as my co-pilot and safety officer (so she calls herself.) She works the windshield wipers, the radio, the AC & heater, the cell phone--while I drive. She handles all that, ensuring that my mind stays focused on driving and driving safely. She takes it very seriously. Since when is a man & woman working effectively as a team considered sexism? Have you even seen women boatswains in male rowing teams? They take their jobs seriously, and though they aren't doing the rowing, they are respected by the rowers as an integral part of the team.

--M


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Subject: RE: feminist perspective on folk songs
From: Lox
Date: 04 Sep 00 - 10:00 PM

Deborah.

After writing your short essay, you haven't actually "discussed" the issue any further, despite having posted 3 times.

Would you like to develop your opinion or just say thankyou to those who are patting you on the head, whilst attacking Mbo, whose comment about pigs was SELF depracating.

If you want to row, then take the oars and steer your boat where you want it to go.


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Subject: RE: feminist perspective on folk songs
From: CamiSu
Date: 05 Sep 00 - 08:45 AM

Grab--

Distance swimming (i.e. English Channel) Auto Racing (not strength,true. But coordination and guts) Carrying packs, water and children (Stuff carried on the hips). And both rowing and trimming sail take upper-body strength. You know, I don't mind doing the heavy work, as long as I'm not trying to carry 70% of my body weight up 3 flights of stairs. I'll let that fall to the people for whom it's only 40%. (But then I've not been much of one to talk a lot about feminism. I've just done what I wanted, even if it's something 'traditionally' a 'man's job', and encouraged other women to do the same. p.s. My husband does most of the cooking and laundry around here, and mops the kitchen floor more often than I do. My son and daughter both do stuff based on what needs to be done, not on gender roles.)


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Subject: RE: feminist perspective on folk songs
From: GUEST,John Bauman
Date: 05 Sep 00 - 09:11 AM

Does anyone see the ironic connection between this thread and the "451 Farenheit" thread. With best of intentions we start saying that some works have a right to exhist but others...


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Subject: RE: feminist perspective on folk songs
From: Grab
Date: 05 Sep 00 - 09:31 AM

CamiSu, I'll give you swimming! :-) But that's apparently cos women's bodies have more fat deposits, which (a) help buoyancy, and (b) keep the warm in and the cold out. Sailing - yes, again, although that's not really an athletic event. I think the Olympic dinghy-racing is segregated though.

Tempting as it is to get into a discussion on mixed and non-mixed sports, I'll drop it now! Enough off-topic for the moment. :-)

Grab.


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Subject: RE: feminist perspective on folk songs
From: SINSULL
Date: 05 Sep 00 - 09:37 AM

I am with Spaw on this. Why the hell is he rowing a sailboat? Obviously, Michael is drunk. Sister is trying to salvage the trip. And once again again some drunken sot is screwing up the life of a perfectly capable woman who if she had any sense would have made the trip alone.

I am in sore need of a definition of the "feminist perspective". I spent years working my butt off to prove that a woman could function and excel in a "man's"job. I fought for equal pay for equal work and got it. I demanded that a woman who chose to work in the home receive the same respect as men and women who chose to work outside the home. And through it all I maintained my femininity. Now I find that I was misled and the crux of the feminist movement revolves around not being allowed to row. For the record, my brothers made me row and fling chum besides. I prefer sail trimming.


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Subject: RE: feminist perspective on folk songs
From: GUEST,Mbo_at_ECU
Date: 05 Sep 00 - 10:24 AM

That's right, CamiSu, defying gender roles RULES! After all, I am the best kitchen-cleaner in Eastern North Carolina! ;-)


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Subject: RE: feminist perspective on folk songs
From: Hollowfox
Date: 07 Sep 00 - 11:22 AM

Hi, Deborah, welcome to the party. One person who has really done her homework on your question is Peggy Seeger. At Old Songs festival a couple of years ago, she did a *very* thorough workshop over the course of two days. There is a synopsis at her website: (www.pegseeger.com), and if you ever get a chance to attend this particular workshop, it will be well worth your time. As for MHO, yes, there is sexism in all the traditional performing arts, most but not all male sexism. Since these traditional performances come from the past, they reflect the attitudes of the past, or they wouldn't have been created in the first place. How we handle this stuff today is another matter, and that reflects our attitudes at this time. I know a version of "Wife wrapped in a wether's skin" (a bouncy ditty that advocates wife-beating), but I don't sing it. I dearly love humor in performance, including bawdy songs, burlesque routines, and the limerick song, but here, too, I'm selective between what I know and what I share. All the songs, etc, discussed on the 'Cat have been around for a long time, for various reasons. There are some songs I sing that have boring lyrics, but the tunes/harmonies are a joy to my heart. There are some that have boring tunes, but compelling words. And remember, some of thes pieces - and their uses - change over time. The song "Wraggle-Taggle Gypsies" is based on a lady running away with the gypsies, and the lord had all the gypsies killed. There was probably a ballad that included this part, but the versions that most people know end with the lady telling her husband to buzz off. The listener draws quite a different conclusion from the two versions. Also, to paraphrase Peter Bellamy: "...to describe something doesn't automatically mean that you agree with it."


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Subject: RE: feminist perspective on folk songs
From: Catrin
Date: 07 Sep 00 - 12:01 PM

Well, I don't know how I've missed this thread.

Lots of thoughts on it but I think if singing songs which express an attitude which offends you, its usually not too difficult to find ones that do. I used to sing Annachie Gordon (occasionally as its so long) because I believe that even though the end was so tragic, it was Jeannie's way of refusing to conform. There was no way she was going to sleep with this bloke, even if she had to die. So she died, which I think took some strength.

I ma now much more likely to sing Jock of Hazledean (ironically written by a man - Walter C. Scott) because she gets to run off with her lover.

The whole issue is so complex.
You get songs that are offensive to many people
You can get songs which reflect society as it was at the time.
You can get songs which reflect how society might have been but in which the characters use their own consciences to act (The horn blower in Matty Groves for example).

I find the whole topic extremely exciting and only sing those songs which make the hairs stand up on the back of my neck - and even then there's too many to choose from.


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Subject: RE: feminist perspective on folk songs
From: LR Mole
Date: 07 Sep 00 - 12:39 PM

Ah, well...don't welsh on a bet. Or gyp anyone. Or have too much dutch courage--might have to call the paddy wagon, and go the place where you might get the french disease.Whatever happened to the (usually unnecessary) phrase,"Meaning no offense, but..."?Ain't there enough intentional pain caused in this old world?


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Subject: RE: feminist perspective on folk songs
From: Lox
Date: 07 Sep 00 - 01:31 PM

A SONG!

...by Cindy Lee Berryhill.

It's called "Damn, I wish I was a man". It is very funny, and I recommend it accordingly for men and women of all ages.

This is feminist folk at its' best


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Subject: RE: feminist perspective on folk songs
From: folk1234
Date: 07 Sep 00 - 03:17 PM

Welcome to Mudcat, Deborah. I truly hope you join up. From time to time you may even want to sling a little mud on other 'catters when you think they've earned it.
Now about MRTBA, it is a song of life. Michael represents all of MANkind, while Sister, who may not be Michael's sister, represents all of WOMENkind. They are on a long journey, as we all are, "to the other side". Throughout the arduous journey to the distant, but unknown, promised land, Michael is the traditional hard-working-but-not-to-bright laborer. Sister, on the other hand, seemingly sits quietly and unnoticed in the background. However, it is she who provides subtle course corrections as she so skillfully trims (not with a scissors, Jeri! - How dumb of you! LOL Phil) the sails.
If she does her job correctly, there will be "milk and honey on the other side".


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Subject: RE: feminist perspective on folk songs
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 07 Sep 00 - 04:17 PM

As to why someone is "rowing a sailboat", it could be that there are two vessels. The vessel with the sails is a ship (not a boat) and Michael is rowing the ship's boat, (dinghy, cutter, whatever) ashore. Sister is left aboard the ship. "Boat" in maritime terms usually means a small watercraft, and the big one is a ship.

On the other hand, on the Great Lakes one of those huge ore carriers is not a ship but a boat, for some reason. The same floating object on the sea would be a ship.

And just to make things more confusing, a submarine, even though its home is the sea, is "a boat". Don't ask me why.

DAve Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: feminist perspective on folk songs
From: mousethief
Date: 07 Sep 00 - 04:19 PM

I always thought this song was about the underground railroad, and escaping slavery to freedom in the North.

It seems to me that finding deprecatory gender roles in this song is just a case of looking too hard for something to be offended by. The point is that everybody's help is required for the escaped slaves to make it to freedom (or whatever the actual goal is, if I've got that part wrong).

On the sailing aspects, note that he isn't rowing the boat the whole way; he's rowing it ASHORE. The last 10 feet, maybe, of the whole trip. Sister sailed the thing all the way across the river, and for the last 10 feet Michael gets to row. Who is offended now? The feminists, since Michael made Sister do all the hard work and only pitched in for the last 10 feet? Or the masculinists, since Sister got to do the fun part, and Michael had to do the boring physical labor when the fun part was over? See what I'm driving at? You can slice anything any way. This is why so much of the fault-finding done by feminists is characterized as "whining" by men -- if you find fault with EVERYTHING (it's like the boy (or girl!) who cried wolf), then your credibility goes way downhill.

Finding fault with MRTBA is a little over-the-top. There are plenty of women-hating songs out there to bash, if bash you must. Better yet why not write, or dig up, some songs that have positive things to say about women?

I have known some very strong and capable women, who have done things I'm not at all sure I would be able to do (my mother, her mother, and my wife come instantly to mind), and whom I admire greatly. But I also think 32-20 Blues, which is about a man planning to shoot his girlfriend, has some of the most incredible guitar work I've ever heard.

Somebody mentioned "My Husband Has No Courage In Him" as a song with a pro-female (or at least anti-male) POV. What about "Single Girl, Married Girl"? This is as anti-domestic-servitude a song as one could wish!

But what do I know? I'm married and have kids, so I'm obviously an abusive rapist, right?

O..O
=o=


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Subject: RE: feminist perspective on folk songs
From: Marymac90
Date: 07 Sep 00 - 05:13 PM

Wow! A thread with a lot of meat in it! (Hope I haven't offended any vegeterians by that.)

Deborah, I am very much a feminist, and will argue with Max about women's issues, women as performers, etc, on Mudcat Radio. Tolk about Sister representing Womankind on the boat-I'm there representing womankind on MUDCAT RADIO!!! What an awesome responsibility!

Well, Deborah, by now you see that I may be a feminist, but I'm another one of these Mudcatters with a really irreverent sense of humor. I guess that most of us who stick around here enjoy the banter. Now, on to the topic at hand...

"Michael" is hardly as offensive as the many "Murder the woman" songs, such as Banks of the Ohio, or Max's favorite, Deliah. But it is a reflection of a culture that defined work as "man's work" and "woman's work".

Jeri, remember, if you're changing ballads, Peter Blood has gotten onto a lot of people's s*** list for changing lyrics in his book, Rise Up Singing, and it's predecessor, Winds of the People.

Thank you, Noreen, for reminding me of where I had seen the Isles of Langerhans referred to before. And to think I was gonna check an ATLAS!!! Very clever, Jeri!

I guess flattop has answered the question of why the folks trying to row the sailboat are so weird-they're all three sheets to the wind!

As for Mbo, he's been inadequately socialized. We're working on him, but he's as thin skinned as many feminists without senses of humor. We take turns jumping on his case, encouraging him to grow up, and letting him know we still love him. He may be a juvenile, but he's OUR juvenile!

Sophocleese has a lot of good stuff to say, and is right on about women performers at festivals, etc. That also carries over at open sings, etc, which is why I strongly prefer an open circle, where everyone in the circle gets a chance to sing, etc. Otherwise, you wind up with the "guys with the guitars" determining what everybody sings, based on what THEY know how to play!!!

CamiSu gave some good information about the Michael song coming from the Georgia Sea Islands. I hadn't known that.

dulcimer proposed that omitting or changing songs with inappropriate songs might be a way of hiding or distorting the past. Perhaps if one was doing a historical presentation to historians, one might want to present certain songs, but certainly not to general audiences. There are songs with the "N" word, for instance, that I wouldn't sing, though I wouldn't argue that they had never existed. There are songs from the Nazi era that I wouldn't promote. The little pieces of a people's culture all accumulate to describe and promote that culture. I prefer to sing and promote songs that reflect a view of the world, as I would like to see it evolving, but of course it isn't there yet. I also sing songs that expose some injustices that people may not be aware of, and those that celebrate people who have taken action for justice.

RiB made a very thoughtful statement. Songs may be a valid expression of feelings that have a real meaning to us, even if we wouldn't want to promote the action discussed. Bruce Cockburn's song "If I had a Rocket Launcher" comes to mind.

Hollowfox, I never knew that the Lord had all the Gypsies killed. There's something else I've learned on this thread.

So Lox, where's the "I wish I was a Man" song. It reminds me of the song Uncle Bonsai sang "If I had a Penis". And speaking of equal treatment, there's Judy Small's song, "the IPD".

Well, Deborah, I hope you feel like there's been a lot of good stuff said in this thread, and you haven't let our outrageous MUDCAT sense of humor chase you away. But be careful-it's contagious!

Love to you and all the other posters,

Marymac


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Subject: RE: feminist perspective on folk songs
From: mousethief
Date: 07 Sep 00 - 05:25 PM

I love that Uncle Bonsai song! I remember I had a weird conversation with a born-again Christian about that song, back when *I* was a born-again Christian. He was horribly offended by it, but I couldn't really get him to say why, when there were other things (scatalogical jokes, etc.) which did not offend him. (I thought it just as funny then as I do now. Although one in the hand is NOT worth one in the bush, if you will allow me to say so.) I finally came to the conclusion that he was offended in his maleness, and somehow transferred that to an offense against God.

Forgive my ignorance, but who is Judy Small?

I usually am the "guy with the guitar" but if there is something someone wants to sing, and I can't play it, I'll sing it a capella (or hand over my guitar to someone who can play it).

Generally, like you, Marymac (is that your name? My mother-in-law is Marybec), I only play songs that I like and somewhat agree with in message. But that's part of the Folk way, right?

O..O
=o=


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Subject: RE: feminist perspective on folk songs
From: GUEST,Peter, the Netherlands
Date: 07 Sep 00 - 06:45 PM

Accidentily I hit this site because I love, play and sing (Irish)folkmusic.I visit Ireland every year and fortunatily I never experienced any feminist commenting on the songs we sang. Example: The Irish Folk song "Whiskey in the Jar" contains a line: "May the devil take the women for they never can be easy". I love and need women (and they need men!)but do you feminists really want people stop singing these songs??!! Wake up girls, these songs are very old and at least in Ireland women clap, dance and chear when singing this song!Let it stay that way.

I'm utterly astonished that feminists now also want to give their comments on Folk music. For example: This discussion about who is rowing the boat ashore. My advise to any feminist: Step into a boat with a nice hunk of a man (I mean: let him lift you into the boat). then let him row to the middle of the lake, have some good love making and let him row you back and let him bring you home. (much better than doing it all yourself) You will looove it!..... Peter


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Subject: RE: feminist perspective on folk songs
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 07 Sep 00 - 07:30 PM

You can't do that in a boat, it creates a bow wave and you sink. You also get disqualified from the race.....

LTS


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Subject: RE: feminist perspective on folk songs
From: Áine
Date: 07 Sep 00 - 07:44 PM

Dear Peter, the Netherlands,

Darlin', If I was a single girl again, I'd go 'rowing' with you anytime!!

-- Aine


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Subject: RE: feminist perspective on folk songs
From: Lox
Date: 07 Sep 00 - 07:49 PM

Marymac,

I will post it in a minute as soon as I've written the words down.

Liz,

I am in awe of your practicality.

lox (ROTFLMAO.)


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Subject: RE: feminist perspective on folk songs
From: GUEST
Date: 08 Sep 00 - 03:27 AM

Dear Liz and Aine, Thanks for your reactions, they sound very nice, something I didn't expect. Where in the world are you from, how about nice folksongs from that area? Peter.


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Subject: RE: feminist perspective on folk songs
From: GUEST,Peter, the Netherlands
Date: 08 Sep 00 - 03:34 AM

Dear Aine (that sounds like an Irish name,lovely), thanks for your reaction . That sounded very nice. I'm not single myself, but I do own a little boat, so who knows..... Which part of the world do you live, and are there any nice folksongs overthere?

Bye, Peter


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Subject: RE: feminist perspective on folk songs
From: The Shambles
Date: 08 Sep 00 - 08:43 AM

From The Mudcat Songbook, A Mere Man.


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Subject: RE: feminist perspective on folk songs
From: The Shambles
Date: 08 Sep 00 - 08:46 AM

A Mere Man.

I told you.


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Subject: RE: feminist perspective on folk songs
From: harpgirl
Date: 08 Sep 00 - 08:55 AM

..and when I was done enjoying your delights Peter, I'd take up with the little guy behind the boathouse who runs fast!!!! hahahahaha harp


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Subject: RE: feminist perspective on folk songs
From: LR Mole
Date: 08 Sep 00 - 10:54 AM

" Now in this time of confusion, I have need of your company." (says Gnossos)


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Subject: Lyr Add: DAMN, I WISH I WAS A MAN^^
From: Lox
Date: 08 Sep 00 - 11:06 AM

Go on Michael, row, row, harder, faster, harder, faster...

Hold on sister, trim your sails, we're nearly there...puff...pant...

As you can see, it's really a song about incest.

In the meantime, here's Cindy Lee Berryhills song. Enjoy:

"Damn, I wish I was a man" by Cindy Lee Berryhill (1987 Rhino Records)

Damn, I wish I was a man
Like heroes in books, I'd go travellin
Lord, If I was a man
I could take a box car out if I wanted

Damn, I wish I was a man
I'd play the field for nothing but fun
Lord, If I was a man
They'd say "she's gone bad"
And I'd have a good reputation

Damn, I wish I was a man
I'd be a southern California highschool freshman
Lord, if I was a man
I'd call guys wimps by calling them a woman

Damn I wish I was a man
I'd look naturally important at my office desk
Lord, if I was a man
They'd never mistake me for a receptionist

Damn, I wish I was a man
I'd be sexy with a belly like Jack Nicholson …..(boing)
Lord, if I was a man
I'd say " no fat chicks on the bumper of my Lincoln

This song is sung very tongue in cheek.


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Subject: RE: feminist perspective on folk songs
From: Áine
Date: 08 Sep 00 - 12:08 PM

Dear Peter,

Oh well, you've got the boat over in the Netherlands, and there's no water left over here in Texas after this summer's drought. Even the Piney Woods are burning down. Maybe in another reincarnation we can 'set sail' together -- you can row (hahaha) and I'll play with those white things on sticks. We have a lot of great Texas folk songs, and I'm sure you've heard a few of them.

All the best and welcome, welcome, welcome to the Mudcat, Aine (and yes, my name is Irish)


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Subject: RE: feminist perspective on folk songs
From: Tinker
Date: 08 Sep 00 - 12:48 PM

JUst a quick expansion on Mousetheif's Underground railroad theory. My husband remembers it being written up as one of the code songs (Like Drinking Gourd) that gave directions and encouragement to both the the slave headed to freedom and those who would help him/her on their way. Sister help to trim the sails was a request to help smooth the way. Very few slaves had traveling freedom and the ability to talk to others from even neighboring plantations. House slaves particularly maids who would accompany the ladies of the house could pass on the message that someone was beginning the journey. River Jordan is deep and wide (difficulties of the journey ) Milk and honey on the other side (Land of Milk and Honey = Caanan = Freedom). As one of the formost conductors, Harriet Tubam didn't hold with any female stereotypes.

I tend to use the .."Those who don't learn history are bound to repeat it philosopy" Folk songs can be a great way to open discussion on how things have changed. Daily Growing with its father dictated marriage between a 24 year old daughter and 14 year old boy always gets rapt attention and discussion when we review Child Ballads in the 3rd grade Midevil study unit. Boys and girls both take offense at being bossed by the grown ups. It adds a "reality check " to history if we use folk songs to take a snap shot of where peoples relationships were when the evnts were happening.By the time the PC police clean it all up there isn't much meat left on the bone to hold anyone's attention.


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Subject: RE: feminist perspective on folk songs
From: GUEST,sula
Date: 09 Sep 00 - 07:24 AM

I have heard the female genitalia referred to as a Man in a boat,(how sexist is that!) And the rowing is a very back and forward sort of movement isn't it?. Trimming the sails would sortof fit in with the anatomy also. Another song I have wondered about whether it is as innocent as it seems is the nursery rhyme "I had a little nut tree" The silver nutmeg and golden Pear sound similar to fruits bourne at either end of the male member. Now wonder the King of spains daughter travelled such a long way! Maybe I'm just obsessed!


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Subject: RE: feminist perspective on folk songs
From: SINSULL
Date: 09 Sep 00 - 08:48 PM

Question to Liz:
Was that practicality or the voice of experience?
Mary


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Subject: RE: feminist perspective on folk songs
From: Susanne (skw)
Date: 09 Sep 00 - 09:08 PM

This thread reflects the difficulty faced by all those people trying to fight gender (and any other form of) discrimination: Most of it is in the eye of the beholder - meaning, we all perceive and judge the same occurrence against an individual backdrop of personal opinions and experiences which makes it hard to agree on anything. I think Deborah's reading of 'Michael' is legitimate. It fits her 'backdrop', and I cannot argue with that. On the other hand, although I consider myself one of that despised and vilified (in this thread, too!) breed of 'feminists', I wouldn't read it in the same way because the version I know also has an anonymous 'brother' in it.
As has already been pointed out, there are quite a few folk songs which could be seen as discriminatory against women. My remedy wouldn't be not to sing them but to put them in perspective by an appropriate intro. This would create much more awareness of the issue than just avoiding them.
Few people have considered me humourless so far, but I didn't find a shred of humour in a couple of the initial responses. They may have been meant to be funny, but I felt the contributors were just being rude about something they either didn't understand or pretended not to. Again, a matter of perception. The best policy might indeed seem to ignore such comments - but is it really? You may be aware that in Germany problems with right-wing organisations are growing again - partly, I believe, because people keep saying 'ignore them, we know what they're like', and few people have the courage to stand up to them and tell them 'We think your opinions are harmful', which might (just) cause one or two of them to have second thoughts. (Note: I am NOT meaning to say any Mudcatters' opinions are fascist! Certainly not! I just wanted to point out a matter of principle.)
Peter, the Netherlands: How old are you? I've had this 'a spot of good sex will put you right, girls' attitude from old men of military background, but thought it had mercifully died out. Most women I know can live happily without sex unless they have a really good partner because they know from experience that most men are not good at sex (at least not the way women would like it - perception again ...)
Mousethief, if you've managed to read through to here, Judy Small is an Australian folksinger and feminist. Some of her songs should be in the DT or in the forum, and she has several CDs out. Her website can be found here. She once told me that sometimes during her more radical songs, like the already mentioned 'IPD' (which I find radically funny! It's in the forum.), the venue's sound system unaccountably packs up ...
Sorry for rambling on, but this is a really interesting thread, with far too many points to take up all at once. - Susanne


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Subject: RE: feminist perspective on folk songs
From: mousethief
Date: 11 Sep 00 - 12:14 PM

Thanks, Susanne! I'll look her up.

I also like what you say about "an appropriate intro." I love the song "Two Magicians" (the version I'm familiar with is the Steeleye Span one), but it requires an intro because of the reference to the "coal-black smith" -- if you don't understand the background it sounds like it's degrading persons of colour. But the real reason she doesn't like him for being coal-black is much simpler and more easily defensible -- he's not a black guy she hates for being black, but a white guy who NEVER TAKES A BATH! Once you explain that, the song no longer puts sensitive people on edge and the humor of it is more easily swallowed.

Other songs really are written from a discriminatory POV, however, and the introduction would have to reflect that.

I'm definitely against bowdlerization in all forms, however. "Those who do not remember the past are doomed to repeat it."

O..O
=o=


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Subject: RE: feminist perspective on folk songs
From: GUEST,Peter, the Netherlands
Date: 11 Sep 00 - 05:17 PM

Dear Aine, thanks for your very warm welcome. Tell me, are you really a feminist and tell me more about your points of view in this matter. I couldn't find an Irish folksong with your name in it, but there is one (woman friendly!)thatI know that sounds a bit like it: "Gentle Annie". A very friendly song towards women. Two verses: "Fair and lovely Annie, Your gentle ways have won me You bring peace and joy and laughter everywhere Where you go, the sunshine follows, You're a breath of spring in winter And my heart and soul are always in your care"

"When the mountains all come tumbling And the earth ha stopped it's turning When the winds don't blow and stars refuse to shine When the moon has left the heavens And the seven seas are empty I will still have Gentle Aine on my mind...." Isn't it lovely?


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Subject: RE: feminist perspective on folk songs
From: GUEST,Rich(bodhránai gan ciall)
Date: 11 Sep 00 - 06:42 PM

You're just angry at MBO because YOU wanted to call him and us pigs and he stole you're line! It appeared to me to be a fairly well-meaning, tongue-in-cheek joke. It seems to me we've had some really nasty people on here making all kinds of downright distasteful posts and although we all thought it, we didn't lash out so vehemently as to swear about it. I usually give Mbo a hard time just in good fun(blasting some of his favorite artists etc.) but I gotta agree with him on this one. (Although I'm still not listening to Oasis!)

And come to think of it, a song that portrays the woman as a skilled artisan (seamstress) and the man as a grunt whose only use is putting his back into the oars should be offensive to men, if anybody. ;-) LOL

Slán agat,
Rich


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Subject: RE: feminist perspective on folk songs
From: mousethief
Date: 11 Sep 00 - 07:05 PM

FYI for landlubbers: "trim the sails" means change the angle of the sail vis-a-vis the wind.

O..O
=o=


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Subject: RE: feminist perspective on folk songs
From: mousethief
Date: 11 Sep 00 - 07:21 PM

FYI for landlubbers: "trim the sails" means change the angle of the sail vis-a-vis the wind. Has nothing to do with sewing. :-)

There's an apparently Australian song called "Gentle Annie" on a Bok/Muir/Trickett album I own, but it's quite different from what you post, Peter. I wonder if they're at all related.

You're mutton's very sweet, Gentle Annie
And I know it can't be found in New South Wales
But you'd better put a fence around the cabbage
Or they'll all be eaten up by the snails

(chorus)
So we'll say farewell, Gentle Annie
For you know with you I can no longer stay
(don't remember this line)
Till we meet you on another threshing day.

Songs found via www.google.com:

one by Stephen Foster

One attributed to "Makem & Clancy"

O..O
=o=


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Subject: RE: feminist perspective on folk songs
From: harpgirl
Date: 11 Sep 00 - 07:56 PM

...I thought this was a windup as well and still do. Anyone who has been lurking for awhile knows we have to use humor to diffuse the feelings which certain topics arouse. Need I mention religion, politics, and the war of the sexes? I think you are trolling, my dear. But I found this thread fascinating and I applaud the restraint that certain individuals applied in their answers. I wasn't offended by the provocative answers, either. And hey, how could we even define feminism without its opposite? And Buddha knows I'm no feminist!


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Subject: RE: feminist perspective on folk songs
From: GUEST,Steve Beisser
Date: 12 Sep 00 - 12:49 PM

Deborah, I quote Willie Nelson's song title and offer it to you as advice if you don't like the sexism in folk songs:

"WRITE YOUR OWN DAMN SONGS"

That's what I do... I am a Christian and I cannot stomach much of what is called music these days... Instead of bemoaning my fate or compromising my faith by playing these awful things for a buck, I write my own and never once pause to care whether anyone likes them or not. They're mine. If a sexist pig doesn't like songs about free-willed, independent women, tough stuff for them, I guess. I stay at home and write songs and minister online (I am a preacher as well as a musician) while my wife has the job that takes care of the immediate money needs.

In short, Deborah, just write from your heart and let God inspire you. You can't go wrong that way.


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Subject: RE: feminist perspective on folk songs
From: M.Ted
Date: 12 Sep 00 - 02:23 PM

Nobody has really addressed Deborah's question--about whether this is a "sexist" song or not, that is to say, if the relationship described in the song is one based on sexist roles--it isn't--in fact,it is a song about liberation. The term "sister" is refers to someone who is an equal--it would not be a stretch of any kind to say that the "sister" relationship described in this song is the same relationship that feminists see themselves as having to one another.

S'paw asked the important question--why are they rowing and sailing at the same time? You don't do that. Why is the river Jordan mentioned? They couldn't be literally rowing or sailing on it, since it is in Israel, not Georgia.

As someone (sorry, I am to lazy to read the thread again to give you proper credit) has pointed out, these spirituals were filled with encoded revolutionary messages--the biblical allusions were really references to the real and ongoing struggle to escape from slavery, as well as to real and tangible efforts to overthrough the system, and to the day that the system would be over thrown and all people would be free (what did you think MLK meant when he said, "I have seen the promised land"? Wake up, people!!!)

The struggle against slavery, as well as the struggle for woman's rights and social equality was a religious idea--and when people called one another "Brother" and "Sister" as did the Quakers(and the communists, socialists, and union members) well as the unions, the implication was that there was a bond of kinship between all people, and that in that was an equal (brother-sister) rather than paternal (Father-Daughter/son) relationship.

I don't remember whether it was Lucretia Mott or Susan B. Anthony who said that the equality of men and women was a logical extension of Quakerism, since if God spoke through women, men had no right to prevail over women, since no man could override the word of God.


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Subject: Lyr Add: INVISIBLE WOMEN
From: belfast
Date: 21 Sep 02 - 12:08 PM

I'm refreshing this thread partly because it seems like an occasionally interesting and entertaining debate. And partly to post the lyrics of this little song which could be considered as a contribution to this debate.

INVISIBLE WOMEN

The singer sing a rebel song
Everybody sings along
Just one thing I will never understand
Each and every rebel seems to be a man

For they sing of "The Bold Fenian Men"
And "The Boys of the Old Brigade"
What about the women who stood there too
"when history was made"

Ireland, Mother Ireland, with your freedom-loving sons
Did your daughters run and hide at the sound of guns?
Or did they have some part in the fight?
And why does everyone keep them out of sight?


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Subject: RE: feminist perspective on folk songs
From: MAG
Date: 21 Sep 02 - 01:24 PM

"What I don't know about Maud Gonne" -- a signifigant essay about, oh, 30+ years old now.

The Irish partisan who is better known as Yeats' Beatrice.


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Subject: RE: feminist perspective on folk songs
From: GUEST
Date: 21 Sep 02 - 01:48 PM


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Subject: RE: feminist perspective on folk songs
From: GUEST,jane
Date: 21 Sep 02 - 01:52 PM

previous message blank because i failed to realise that you need to write your message before you submit it. Clever, huh? Just wanted to say how much I enjoyed the words of 'invisible women' up there. maith thu, a chara


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Subject: RE: feminist perspective on folk songs
From: Susanne (skw)
Date: 21 Sep 02 - 05:40 PM

Hi Jane - yours isn't the first empty post in this forum, so don't be discouraged. Stay with us and help me find out from Belfast where I can get a recording of the song!


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Subject: RE: feminist perspective on folk songs
From: Leadfingers
Date: 21 Sep 02 - 06:17 PM

As a mere male whos is capable of doing washing and ironing and other household chores in partnership with my chosen lady,I will continue to sing songs like Tucker Zimmerman's 'Handfull of Rain'with lines like 'one man's woman is another man's pain in the arse,but that's all right with me'.And holding doors open for ladies as well. Though it is difficult to say'I'm a male chavinist'when your tongue is jammed so hard into your cheek.


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Subject: RE: feminist perspective on folk songs
From: Susanne (skw)
Date: 21 Sep 02 - 06:38 PM

If holding the door open to a woman makes you a male chauvinist - does taking the offer and walking through make me a female chauvinist?


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Subject: RE: feminist perspective on folk songs
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 21 Sep 02 - 07:13 PM

With this thread being so very long when it was revived, wouldn't it be a good idea now to open a part two, (using the Creatre New Thread facility, and a link from and to this thread) if people want the discussion to continue?

(I normally try to keep the door open for anyone going through after me - and doesn't every polite person?)


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Subject: RE: feminist perspective on folk songs
From: Rev
Date: 21 Sep 02 - 10:58 PM

For further reading on feminist approaches to folk music I highly recommend a book by a former professor of mine, Dianne Dugaw, up at the University of Oregon. Her book, Warrior Women and Popular Balladry, is all about the family of folksongs about women who disguise themselves as men and go to sea or to war. One of her most interesting points (and she has many) is that the oldest known variants of these songs (from the 17th century) feature a very strong female protagonist, who proves to be the equal of any man, whereas by the time the Victorian era has rolled around the female heroine has become weak and helpless and is barely able to disguise herself as a man due to her fragility. Anyway, it's an interesting book. Thanks for the interesting topic Deborah (I hope you stick around). Rev


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Subject: RE: feminist perspective on folk songs
From: mg
Date: 21 Sep 02 - 11:04 PM

I'll have to read Dianne's book. I went to high school with her. mg


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Subject: RE: feminist perspective on folk songs
From: belfast
Date: 22 Sep 02 - 06:59 AM

McGrath of Harlow is (as usual) right and a new thread should be started. Naturally I have no idea how to do this.

Suzanne (skw), the song hasn't been recorded but I suppose it will be one of these days (and I really mean "years"). But if you like it stick a tune on it and sing it - it actually does make a few, very few, uncomfortable. Which can be good clean fun.


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Subject: RE: feminist perspective on folk songs
From: Keevan6
Date: 23 Sep 02 - 05:07 AM

What i fail to grasp is why we are arguing about a song written a long time ago......or male/female gender roles as they applied back in the day.......a famous man once said "Don't live in the past, only learn from it." We're living in a new century......with ever changing rules of how we deal with life and each other, If we only use one song (or songs) as a bias to further the split between Females/Males, will we ever truly reach harmony? For heavens sake people........learn from the past and write new songs, and one day our children, and their children will look back on us and they will hopefully realize that we......as a new generation, in an undiscovered country, at least tried to make it work........
    Threads combined. Messages below are from a new thread.
    -Joe Offer-

Keevan 30/M


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Subject: feminist perspective on folksongs Pt2
From: GUEST
Date: 23 Sep 02 - 07:14 AM

There is a thread back there entitled 'feminist perspective on folksongs'. There was some interesting stuff there but it was begun in September '00 and is about 100 postings long. It was re-opened recently with the lyrics of a song 'invisible women'. I got the thread opened once but when I went back my little machine here would not co-operate. Somebody suggested that a new thread should be opened. And I'm doing just that. So, could someone go that thread and make a link to this one? And would the person who posted the lyrics to the song do it again? Am I making sense?There is a thread back there entitled 'feminist perspective on folksongs'. There was some interesting stuff there but it was begun in September '00 and is about 100 postings long. It was re-opened recently with the lyrics of a song 'invisible women'. I got the thread opened once but when I went back my little machine here would not co-operate. Somebody suggested that a new thread should be opened. And I'm doing just that. So, could someone go that thread and make a link to this one? And would the person who posted the lyrics to the song do it again? Am I making sense?


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Subject: RE: feminist perspective on folksongs Pt2
From: An Pluiméir Ceolmhar
Date: 23 Sep 02 - 07:31 AM

Previous thread here


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Subject: RE: feminist perspective on folk songs
From: An Pluiméir Ceolmhar
Date: 23 Sep 02 - 07:36 AM

Thread continued here


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Subject: RE: feminist perspective on folksongs Pt2
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 23 Sep 02 - 07:49 AM

Here's that song GUEST. (Even if you are a nameless GUEST - I'm assuming that's just a temporary omission):

Subject: RE: feminist perspective on folk songs
From: belfast
Date: 21-Sep-02 - 12:08 PM

I'm refreshing this thread partly because it seems like an occasionally interesting and entertaining debate. And partly to post the lyrics of this little song which could be considered as a contribution to this debate.

Invisible Women

The singer sing a rebel song
Everybody sings along
Just one thing I will never understand
Each and every rebel seems to be a man

For they sing of "The Bold Fenian Men"
And "The Boys of the Old Brigade"
What about the women who stood there too
"when history was made"

Ireland, Mother Ireland, with your freedom-loving sons
Did your daughters run and hide at the sound of guns?
Or did they have some part in the fight?
And why does everyone keep them out of sight?


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Subject: RE: feminist perspective on folksongs Pt2
From: GUEST,jane
Date: 23 Sep 02 - 07:49 AM

Thank you. It seems to me that the general rules can be fairly straightforward. A song from the past that relflects the inequalities of society are acceptable but that songs which themselves portray women (or anyone else) as inherently inferior are not. The hard part is telling the difference. And we shouldn't be afraid to point out what's going on. There's a song in part 1 of this which has a bit of fun at the expense of republlican ballads. Why are they always about the "men" and the "boys"? When I write it like that it sounds whining. The song makes her complaint funny.


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Subject: RE: feminist perspective on folksongs Pt2
From: GUEST
Date: 23 Sep 02 - 09:18 AM

Jayne,

I'm sorry, but womom are inherenty inferior to men in such things as running quickly or lifting heavy weights.

They are however, in other tasks (both physical and mental) far superior.

Why not accept and celebrate the differences?


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Subject: RE: feminist perspective on folksongs Pt2
From: MAG
Date: 23 Sep 02 - 11:42 AM

It all goes back to the ball and socket joints, GUEST, and that one thing which requires loose ball & sockets men are frightened of; some admit it, some not.


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Subject: RE: feminist perspective on folksongs Pt2
From: GUEST
Date: 23 Sep 02 - 11:48 AM

This one of those awful threads where evrybody just saws sawdust...give it up..we all get it.


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Subject: Lyr Add: A SONG OF THE CUMANN NA MBAN
From: maire-aine
Date: 23 Sep 02 - 09:22 PM

For the Guest who posted "Invisible Women" (and for anyone else interested), I offer the following. I found it in an old newspaper supplement: Ireland's Fighting Songs, Compliments of and Supplement to Chicago Herald and Examiner, March 6, 1921.

A SONG OF THE CUMANN NA MBAN
(Air: 'Men of the West', which is also 'Rosin the Bow')

When you honor in song and in story
the fighters who shouldered a gun,
and recked not tho' Death's sting should reach them
if so Ireland's freedom be won.
Forget not the women of Erin,
who stood without tremor or dread,
beside those who battled for freedom
'mid shell-fire and deluge of lead.

Chorus:
Then here's to the women of Ireland,
who bravely faced death in the van;
Old Ireland is proud of her daughters,
Hurrah for the Cumann na mBan!

Our tricolour flag flew to Heaven,
proclaiming o'er old Dublin town,
that men of the nation, then wakened,
would die e'er the flag would come down.
And into our ranks came our colleens,
like the women of Limerick of old,
and their smiles* made our weakest a hero—
write their names, boys, in letters of gold.

Though our fight in the old G. P. O., boys,
came to grief as its flames touched the sky,
we lit there a light that shall blaze, boys,
till the power of Saxon shall die.
And cherish for ever the glory,
while the page of our records you scan,
of those valiant daughters of Erin,
Hurrah for the Cumann na mBan!

(Knutsford, June, 1916)

Note: When I sing it, I change "smiles" to "strength"; I figure these women weren't smiling.


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Subject: RE: feminist perspective on folksongs Pt2
From: Hecate
Date: 24 Sep 02 - 06:37 AM

An interesting point re femenist folk - there's a lot of stories about women who dress up as blokes and go to sea/join the army (lilly white breasts soon to be exposed). There was a radio program, and apparently a book (title unknown) covering this - apparently there's a fair bit of truth in it and a lot of young women did go to sea dressed up as boys - there are references to them in Nelson's letters for a start. the reason they vanished from history is that when Queen Victoria awarded medals to all those who had survived a certian sea battle (again, memory fails me on precise details) she refused to give medals to the women who had been there for all the usual Vitoria type reasons.


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Subject: RE: feminist perspective on folksongs Pt2
From: GUEST,jane
Date: 24 Sep 02 - 08:36 AM

If it's okay with you I'll ignore the "let's celebrate our differences" line. It usually means let's ignore inequalities and injustice. And women, as noted by Hecate, have often forged a life for themselves by pretending (wish I could do italics here) to be men. My point is about how folksong often reinforces (unconsciously no doubt) the stereotypes which help prolong the situation. But perhaps, as someone else implies, this is the wrong place to be trying to talk about it. Or perhaps the meaning is that we shouldn't bother talking about it at all. As for the song the "The Soldiers of Cuman na Man", it's a great song but I wonder how many times it has been sung or recorded as compared to "The Men of the West"? And I'm sorry about starting off up there without signing a name but it balances up with the previous thread where I signed my name but didn't send a message.


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Subject: RE: feminist perspective on folksongs Pt2
From: Susanne (skw)
Date: 24 Sep 02 - 06:21 PM

Hecate, there's one book by Jo Stanley, Bold In Her Breeches: Woman pirates across the ages. I even have the memoirs of a woman who ran away from a good Russian home to enlist and ended up as an officer in the Imperial Army towards the end of the 19th century. She was found out and made to return to her family, but I don't think she ever married, and people held her in great respect.

Jane, I agree with you that there is a good deal to be learned from folksongs - but only if the way of thinking (the zeitgeist, so to speak) is there. I remember articles about all these "woman-disguised-as-man" songs where it is contended that what these women were in it for was following or re-finding their lovers. Now, to me, this is a typically male idea of a woman's motives. It seems to be inconceivable to them that men may not be the ultimate goal. I also think that probably many or most of the William Taylors of this world were written by men.

There are other groups of folk songs that can tell us a lot about the conditions women lived in. Take The Shearin's No For You: There are two very different versions, one holds the woman herself responsible for her 'downfall' of having a child out of wedlock and paints a dismal future for her in punishment. In other words, it looks at this woman exactly the way society has always done. The other version makes clear that the woman's pregnancy is the result of a rape; the man repents and offers to marry her (some wishful thinking there?). The woman's reaction isn't on record but it is fairly clear we're not expected to think she told him to go to hell, but she gratefully accepted and they lived happily ever after ... ahem! Yet this song was described (by a man!) as 'one of the tenderest love songs from Scotland' not too long ago.
Frankie Armstrong, Sandra Kerr and another woman (whose name has slipped my mind) put together a book of such songs in the Seventies and interpreted them from a feminist viewpoint. When there was no feminism, or when the idea that women are equal (though maybe different) hadn't taken root these songs were interpreted differently, of course. It certainly is an interesting and limitless topic!


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Subject: Lyr Add: WHEN I WAS A FAIR MAID
From: michaelr
Date: 24 Sep 02 - 08:18 PM

Here's a song that celebrates a woman joining the Navy, not to follow a man but just for her own adventure. My band Greenhouse recorded it on this album:

WHEN I WAS A FAIR MAID (trad.)

When I was but a fair maid, about seventeen
I listed in the Navy for to serve the queen
I listed in the Navy, a sailor lad to stand
For to hear the cannons rattling and the music so grand
And the music so grand, the music so grand
For to hear the cannons rattling and the music so grand

The officer that listed me was a tall and handsome man
He said, You'll make a sailor, so come along my man
My waist being tall and slender, my fingers long and thin
O very soon I learned me and I soon exceeded them
I soon exceeded them, I soon exceeded them
O very soon I learned me and I soon exceeded them

They sent me off to bed and they sent me off to bunk
To lie with a sailor I never was afraid
But taking off my blue coat it often made me smile
To think I was a sailor and a maiden all the while
A maiden all the while, a maiden all the while
For to think I was a sailor and a maiden all the while

They sent me off to London for to guard the Tower
And I'm sure I'd still be there `til my very dying hour
But a lady fell in love with me, I told her I was a maid
She went unto the captain and my secret she betrayed
My secret she betrayed, my secret she betrayed
She went unto the captain and my secret she betrayed

The captain he came up to me and he asked if this was so
I would not, I could not, I dared not say no
It's a pity we should lose you, such a sailor lad you made
It's a pity we should lose you, such a handsome young maid
You're a handsome young maid, a handsome young maid
It's a pity we should lose you, such a handsome young maid

So fare thee well, captain, you've been so kind to me
And likewise my shipmates, I'm sorry to part with thee
But if ever the Navy needs a lad, a sailor I remain
I'll put on my hat and feathers and I'll run the rigging again
I'll run the rigging again, I'll run the rigging again
I'll put on my hat and feathers and I'll run the rigging again

Cheers,
Michael


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