i don't know about you but when oprah had bill o'reilly on her show, i almost went blind. i mean, ok, she can have any sexual harrassing, falafel sniffing pervert whe wants on the show - but do we really have to look him seriously in the eye like *he's* the model of traditional values??
anyway, hearing everyone on that show bandy the term 'traditional values' vs. 'values that aren't traditional, never will be and will destroy life as we know it' (no, bill's not hysterical at all), as if these binary oppositions actually existed in a historical context, got me thinking.
while i like myth as a literary form, i've never much liked it as a structure for social behavior or law. so i went to borders yesterday and bought a stack of books i can barely afford and one of them was this:
The Way We Never Were: American Families and the Nostalgia Trap: Stephanie Coontz
traditional values, or what we assume is a common cultural 'sense' have never been so. they've never been natural things, things that just spring up like flowers. there is a Will, an Ideology, behind this world of ours. and bill doesn't want us to look at Ideology (or, rather, those hidden interests that guide these mythical 'traditional' values.) he wants us all to choose a side without even questioning the terms we're using.
and, besides, when was the past ever good for brown people? bill says he doesn't want to live in a world without traditional values; he'd rather live in a mythical bucolic past where everything was 'good.' but here's news - it wasn't good for everyone. what past is he talking about? is he talking about 1959? 1859? 1759? 1659? 'cause i can pretty much guarantee that life sucked hard, all the way back, if you weren't white, straight, male and rich.
anyway, i bring up this book because the amazon page has a neato feature that lets you look at its bibliography which is a great source list for women's history, historiography, some social studies and some really solid feminist academic texts. read books, people! you'll learn stuff!
The Joy of Translating
2 weeks ago