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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
Biskit 03 Sep 00 - 08:02 PM
Biskit 03 Sep 00 - 08:15 PM
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
CamiSu 03 Sep 00 - 11:55 PM
Bagpuss 04 Sep 00 - 07:42 AM
Bagpuss 04 Sep 00 - 08:05 AM
pastorpest 04 Sep 00 - 10:10 AM
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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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