, , , , , ,


Dude: I am conflicted. There are folks out there doing excellent work, but after reading some recent posts around the interwebs, I kept thinking, “Stockholm Syndrome much?”

I’m as much of a narcissist as the next person, and I think I recognize some of the folks being called out in various places for being critical of women’s roles in living history events. So, organize my own events? Come up with my own things to do?

Cool: challenge accepted.

I am, in fact, throwing down for the pleasure and pain of running a farm in late June. No, I didn’t organize it, but I was asked to take on a challenge and I have accepted, roping my favorite tailor into the effort as well. It’ll mean a bunch of studying, but in a pinch, I can always clean the house. We can rake, make refugees stay in the yard, and try as hard as we can to keep Quakers from putting radical ideas in the slaves’ heads. I think it will be hard, unpleasant, and uncomfortable—and that’s what I don’t like about the suggestions in the otherwise honestly well-intended and meant-to-inspire posts.

Playing at Quadrille. Oil on canvas by Francis Hayman. Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery

Playing at Quadrille. Oil on canvas by Francis Hayman. Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery

They’re so nice. They reinforce women’s subordinate roles in the past and present. Children’s activities? I might die, really, I might. If that’s your bag, go for it, please! We need it. It’s simply not something I can do.

No more can I talk about What People Wore. It’s not that I don’t care (y’all know I do) but that I want to move past the surface.

It’s not enough just to look great.

The Heir: Tom Finds New Wealth. William Hogarth.

The Heir: Tom Finds New Wealth. William Hogarth.

Dive deep: find the dirt. Find the hard stuff. You don’t have to be nice. That’s my personal problem with what I’ve been reading: between the lines I keep hearing a voice suggesting that we be nice girls, that we simmer down. No, I’m sorry. I can’t. Reader, if you can, go for it.

But if you can’t, I want to tell you: Keep pushing. Keep asking. Keep speaking up. Challenge the status quo. Our Girl History did a great post on Well Behaved Women, and I fully support the work people are doing to represent the Well Behaved and the marginalized (shout out to the veteran with the knife-grinding cart: well imagined, sir!).

Russell, John; The Blind Beggar and His Granddaughter; The Bowes Museum;

John Russell. The Blind Beggar and His Granddaughter, oil on canvas, 18th century. The Bowes Museum UK.

Bring it. Bring the ordinary.

But if you can’t be ordinary or run the children’s games or be subservient or show how women dressed, that’s okay. For the love of god, someone, be desperate.

Be hungry, be angry, be resentful, be religious.

Whatever you do, don’t be afraid to speak your mind.