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feminist perspective on folk songs

michaelr 24 Sep 02 - 08:18 PM
Susanne (skw) 24 Sep 02 - 06:21 PM
GUEST,jane 24 Sep 02 - 08:36 AM
Hecate 24 Sep 02 - 06:37 AM
maire-aine 23 Sep 02 - 09:22 PM
GUEST 23 Sep 02 - 11:48 AM
MAG 23 Sep 02 - 11:42 AM
GUEST 23 Sep 02 - 09:18 AM
GUEST,jane 23 Sep 02 - 07:49 AM
McGrath of Harlow 23 Sep 02 - 07:49 AM
An Pluiméir Ceolmhar 23 Sep 02 - 07:36 AM
An Pluiméir Ceolmhar 23 Sep 02 - 07:31 AM
GUEST 23 Sep 02 - 07:14 AM
Keevan6 23 Sep 02 - 05:07 AM
belfast 22 Sep 02 - 06:59 AM
mg 21 Sep 02 - 11:04 PM
Rev 21 Sep 02 - 10:58 PM
McGrath of Harlow 21 Sep 02 - 07:13 PM
Susanne (skw) 21 Sep 02 - 06:38 PM
Leadfingers 21 Sep 02 - 06:17 PM
Susanne (skw) 21 Sep 02 - 05:40 PM
GUEST,jane 21 Sep 02 - 01:52 PM
GUEST 21 Sep 02 - 01:48 PM
MAG 21 Sep 02 - 01:24 PM
belfast 21 Sep 02 - 12:08 PM
M.Ted 12 Sep 00 - 02:23 PM
GUEST,Steve Beisser 12 Sep 00 - 12:49 PM
harpgirl 11 Sep 00 - 07:56 PM
mousethief 11 Sep 00 - 07:21 PM
mousethief 11 Sep 00 - 07:05 PM
GUEST,Rich(bodhránai gan ciall) 11 Sep 00 - 06:42 PM
GUEST,Peter, the Netherlands 11 Sep 00 - 05:17 PM
mousethief 11 Sep 00 - 12:14 PM
Susanne (skw) 09 Sep 00 - 09:08 PM
SINSULL 09 Sep 00 - 08:48 PM
GUEST,sula 09 Sep 00 - 07:24 AM
Tinker 08 Sep 00 - 12:48 PM
Áine 08 Sep 00 - 12:08 PM
Lox 08 Sep 00 - 11:06 AM
LR Mole 08 Sep 00 - 10:54 AM
harpgirl 08 Sep 00 - 08:55 AM
The Shambles 08 Sep 00 - 08:46 AM
The Shambles 08 Sep 00 - 08:43 AM
GUEST,Peter, the Netherlands 08 Sep 00 - 03:34 AM
GUEST 08 Sep 00 - 03:27 AM
Lox 07 Sep 00 - 07:49 PM
Áine 07 Sep 00 - 07:44 PM
Liz the Squeak 07 Sep 00 - 07:30 PM
GUEST,Peter, the Netherlands 07 Sep 00 - 06:45 PM
mousethief 07 Sep 00 - 05:25 PM
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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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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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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 - 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: 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: 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 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: An Pluiméir Ceolmhar
Date: 23 Sep 02 - 07:31 AM

Previous thread here


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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 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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 - 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: 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: GUEST
Date: 21 Sep 02 - 01:48 PM


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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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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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