Tuesday, August 16, 2016

BadAss to the Core? Um, Not Me, Sorry . . .

What if I come in to (blog) work part-time in the next week or two, just to ease my way back after my vacation (yes, still speaking metaphorically here)?  The break is/was more necessary than I'd realised, and I'm happy to be loosening my relationship with the iPhone camera,  relinquishing my blogger's habit of seeing post-illustrating photographic possibilities everywhere, of shaping personal anecdotes and quotidian activities into latent paragraphs as I walked.  I'm not keen to step right back into those ways yet. I can see that if I want to keep blogging -- and I do -- I need to find some protective patterns for a viable relationship between the life I'm living and the life I'm writing. Pre-retirement, my work imposed a structure that, arguably, kept the blog in its place. A year into that retirement, I've got some sorting to do about where and what that place is. Work in progress. . . .

But I'm beginning to feel an urge to post again, and I'm missing you, an audience of readers, dare I say friends, with whom to share ideas or observations or photos. Some of that urge has been channelled toward writing a few posts which I'll publish over the next couple of weeks. But some of it wants a more immediate outlet. Sometimes the urge is spontaneous and it demands some immediate venting. The topic is usually fleeting and superficial, and I want to know what you think Now, while I'm still reacting myself.

For example. . . .

My current pet peeve. This word "badass" in its newly claimed feminist dimensions. Have you heard it? read it? It seems to be especially prominent at this Olympic moment, when every female athlete worth her salt is lauded for the quality. It's been around for a while, though. I started noticing it a couple of years ago, and I didn't mind it too much at first. I'm happy enough to applaud women who take on tough, mostly physical, challenges or who sport fearless or courageous attitudes, who take on political or social or economic establishments and "speak truth to power." But what started to creep in and make me feel, at first, uncomfortable, and then impatient, and finally just annoyed, was a tendency to oppose "being a badass" with "being a princess." A neighbour of mine, an otherwise very inspiring 60-year-old fitness enthusiast and mentor, first drew this unfortunate binary to my attention in a post she wrote which asked "Are you a warrior or a princess?" In the post, she used the term "badass" as interchangeable with "warrior": both badasses and warriors would run through deep puddles, unafraid of mud; they would ignore signs declaring trails unsafe in favour of exploring at will; they would, definitively, be willing to "blow snot rockets," rather than using a kleenex they had daintily tucked into their pocket like the loser princesses who shared the trail with them.

Seriously.

I could not spit on the ground, in public or private, or blow a "snot rocket," to save my life. My granddaughter's life, just maybe, but I'd need some serious coaching and practice first. And I really can't imagine any advantage this might provide over my Kleenex which, you know, doesn't demand all that much space in my pocket.

So yeah, guilty as charged: I'm a princess. Not keen on wandering up the trail along the crumbly cliff either. Don't like to risk getting lost by "exploring" a new trail on my own. Take absolutely forever to talk myself into getting the bike outside by myself and riding it, solo, through the city streets (Finally did that, though, and that post is written, will be up here soon).  I'm not at all confident about my athletic abilities, thanks to a long-ago P.E. teacher tyrant, and would never call myself an athlete, much less a badass, even though I ran a marathon two years ago and eighteen kilometres last Sunday, aged 63. . . . So to have a fellow runner, a feminist peer, a woman of my own certain age, denigrate my running achievements, such as they are, because I skew to careful. . . that just seems so unhelpful and, frankly, discouraging.

But it's not just athleticism and/or physical boldness I'm talking about when I object to this word "badass," to the supposed opposition between a Warrior attitude and a Princess's. What bothers me is a readiness to applaud one kind of woman at the expense of another. Yesterday, when I'd returned from a delightful few hours with my three-year-old granddaughter, sauntering through her neighbourhood, sniffing and naming garden flowers, playing in the waterpark and on the swings, eating waffles on the patio of a cafe, I checked out Facebook, as you do. A friend was celebrating her 60th birthday while on a motorcycle road trip through some impressively wild and remote terrain, and another friend congratulated her on her "badassery." Not that I want to be congratulated for hanging with the grandkids, but there's something that seems far from feminist in the rendering invisible or blandly pleasant, uninteresting, innocuous of the domestic quotidian of so many lives.  And it's supremely wearying, honestly, to think that yet more bars are being raised, more standards of judgment on how cool we're managing to be post 60. . .

Pater and I are heading out to a French lesson in a few minutes -- we're trying out a new tutor, readying ourselves for some travel this fall. I'm not sure if a French lesson counts as Princess or Badass/Warrior territory -- I can't see why it would be useful at all to think in those terms, and I think the terms themselves are revealed as clearly problematic when we try to apply them here, especially when trying to describe my husband's role. Surely feminists should be broadening roles, not trying to define them more tightly, not applauding one at the expense of another. What say you?

If you're interested in reading a bit more about the recent use of this term and its feminist implications, this article and this one offer a more sustained thinking-through than my short rant here. I'd love to hear what you think on the topic. Are you a BadAss Princess? Or just a Princess? Or a Nana BadAss?  Does your Badass self need some Princess Pampering regularly?  Or, like me, would you like to ditch the labels and ditch them NOW?


60 comments:

  1. Don't you hate labels of any kind? When I was a girl, my sister was the "tomboy",
    I was the "bookworm". I was always last chosen for a team unless it was a spelling bee. I have gone out of my way in my life to be polite and congenial. Does that make me a princess? Somehow, I managed against all odds to complete university undergrad and professional year with a pre-schooler and a husband who travelled frequently for his work. Sometimes for fun, I pushed that stroller from UBC, over the Burrard Bridge to meet then-husband at his office at Robson Square. Perhaps the Paperbag Princess! Recently, a musician friend of Monsieur's teased me about
    being "conservative". Another label! I believe that a woman can be strong without being crude or riding a motorcycle and I really don't like crumbly mountain trails.
    I have walked and sketched in England, France and Spain. I travel alone in large cities and live alone in Mexico. My "tomboy" sister just had a river raft adventure at Hell's Gate. I enjoyed time reading my books in a quiet cabin. At this point in my French studies, I really feel that I could apply the term "warrior" if I really wanted
    to apply a label which I don't. There, you got me ranting too! That's what blogs are for.

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    1. I do dislike the labels, especially when they seem to insist on either/or, as with Tomboy/Bookworm. . . Your life is a great illustration of the toughness and the perseverance a Bookworm is capable of, strength comparable to any Warrior's (and Warriors might read books as well!)
      and clearly, we Bookworms can rant occasionally as well. Thanks!

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  2. I dislike these terms too! Most people are a composite of traits and activities so why be forced into one category or another? Some days I'm academic (getting ready for the new semester) and others I'd prefer to hike (not crumbling) trails. I'd love to find a "princess day" on my calendar at times. Thinking more about this, I think the focus on being a "senior badass" pushed me to do more than I could in the gym which resulted in a badly sprained ankle and broken bones. Silly of me -- I don't need to prove anything to anyone!
    For years it was stay at home mom vs working mom and now princess vs badass? We should ditch all labels now!

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    1. Oooh, I love a good Princess Day! Not room for many of those in a working woman's calendar, but they can be balm for the soul.
      And I do suspect that there is a certain pressure to be "senior badasses," and not surprised that you might have sprained your ankle because of it. I have to be especially careful in yoga class.
      Yes! For me the Badass/Princess recalled the years of Stay-at-Home vs. Working mom (as if all moms weren't working!) -- perhaps that's part of what bothers me about it. Ditch the labels indeed!

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  3. I avoid labels or stereotyping people.
    We are all individuals with personality traits that make us different from others....
    Like Madame La-Bas I was never first to be chosen on any athletic exercise but first for the spelling bees and was frequently the last one standing which proves my theory that no one can do everything perfectly.
    Blogging can take over our free time if we do not set boundaries and taking breaks is important. Sounds to me like you are just experiencing growing pains as you are not yet settled into your new home and have not sorted out a new routine. Retirement can take awhile to figure out...I love the flexibility but do like some structure to my day.
    Hope that your new French tutor is a good teacher.

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    1. Thanks, Hostess, the structure is coming slowly, but you're right, we'll need to get through the next move for it to really arrive. And yes, we like our new tutor.

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  4. As soon as a new adjective appears, the proverbial inner yard stick uncoils to measure-like the cobra out of a shaman's basket. Let coiled snakes remain sleeping. Just asp Cleopatra.

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    1. So true! And funny. I do love a good pun. thanks, Leah.

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  5. I am neither and I also dislike both categories. Both are derogatory and limiting. Why we are still doing this to ourselves is beyond me. Surely getting older is about discarding labels? Like Glamorous Granny Which literally horrifies me.

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    1. My sentiments exactly. Seems a time of life we show be able to discard them rather than look for new ones.

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  6. I hate to sound like an old fogey. I know, in my heart of hearts that I am no such thing.
    I think that mother bears are fierce. So are men and women in battle and people struggling to survive. Athletes are many things but why fierce? Why should a 60 year old woman be fierce unless she is in battle, defending her family or fighting overwhelming odds that do NOT have to do with leisure activities......and I put sports right there with all other leisure activities. So why should a swimmer be fierce and why should it be a matter of strange (to me) pride?
    I'm no princess. Smelling roses, enjoying a good book, choosing to carry that kleenex are just bits and pieces of a normal day, as much as cleaning a toilet, writing a policy paper, working a cash register or rocking a baby.
    Badass is just an unattractive and juvenile term, in my humble opinion. Intelligent, provocative, challenging, adventurous, thrill-seeking maybe. Badass? No thank you, it's just silly.
    I could go on and on, and I hope that others will! It has occurred to me that the use of labels like the ones you've brought up has a lot to do with our First World tendency towards hyperbole. Perhaps people on this side of the world are subliminally aware (or acutely?) of their rare privilege in NOT having to battle for every aspect of life. Maybe exaggeration elevates - but I find that sad.

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    1. What a rant. It's been that sort of day. I think I more or less stand by what I've written though. Apologies if it sounds a little wired!

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    2. Hyperbole! Addicted, obsessed, literally cannot live without...mindless use of exaggeration. To promote the ego. I find it unattractively self-aggrandising.

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    3. No need to apologise, Pondside. You're singing my song! And you've added an interesting point about the First World privilege and concomitant tendency toward hyperbole.
      I don't hate the term itself as much as the Binary it seems so often to imply and the narrow range of activities and/or attitudes that seem to qualify for it. But like you, I begin to list all the great adjectives it's sweeping aside. . .

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  7. Oh how I dislike categories, and the idea that people have to be limited to either/or anything really. Why can't we just accept that we are all complexly layered individuals with many interests and talents and be happy with that. I lived through my adolescence; I really have no desire to repeat it. I apologize if this sounds more cranky than I intend it to sound.

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    1. Exactly. I prefer to keep my adolescence in the past, and the categories threaten to bring them back. Crank on! ;-)

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  8. haven't met that term - but it feels as if both the warrior and the princess would see the badass as a spoilt brat. Grow up already!

    Thundering off down a trail marked unsafe, then wimpering for mountain rescue (the warriors) to rescue the badass??

    Wishing you a particularly strong immune system ... as you dodge snot rockets. Ick. Eww.

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  9. This fitness instructor's definition of badass sounds to me like women are supposed to adopt the least attractive stereotypical male qualities (specifically, an unhygienic grottiness and a conviction that the rules don't apply to you -- maybe that trail has been declared unsafe for a reason, hmm, and maybe ignoring that is just going to result in someone having to come out and rescue your entitled ass). Reminds me of this (equally misguided, imo) effort to "reclaim" the term "bossy." I agree that bossy is usually a gendered term, but I think that instead of encouraging bossiness in our girls we should stop tolerating the equivalent in our boys.
    Signed,
    Neither bossy nor badass nor princess

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    1. I think this is part of what disturbs me, Sarah, although I do applaud the notion of broadening possibilities for women's behaviour and I do see how we've been constrained by constructions of gentility. (It's the excuse I use for my regular recourse to "bad language"!). I'm even happy to applaud some of the bad behaviour occasionally, when it gets important things done. It's just this privileging of the "trespass" into more traditionally masculine behaviour at the expense of more arguably domestic or gentle or careful approaches that frustrates me. I can do both/either, depending on circumstance or mood. Like you, I don't want to be pegged as either boss OR badass OR princess. Why should I choose?

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  10. I really hate definitions-one is a complex personality,with a lot of facets,one is unique-I don't want to be clasified as one or another,especially by people who don't know me or know only one facet of a lot.
    I had to check Urban dictionary (and Merriam-Webster and some others...) to be sure.
    Well,I understand that badass has some aura of M......... Man or C...... Cowboy in ads before,but: " ...the badass carves his own path. He (hm..) wears,drives,drinks,watches and listen to what he chooses,when he chooses,where he chooses,uninfluenced by fads or advertising campaigns....."
    Ok,I do,with the handkerchief,good manners,politeness,consideration to my family and the people around,raised and pampered with love but with responsibility to me and the others....... (yes,btw I always had a role of Calamity Jane or Nscho tschi-indian princess- in our plays )so,what it makes me? The answer is- Me!
    Our athlete Sandra Perkovich won a gold olimpian medal for the second time in the row in throwing discus-so,she has to be strong (and strong minded),tall and muscular. She is mentally even stronger. She is devoted daughter and girlfriend,she likes beautiful clothes and heels,she is proud because she earned her own money for the Chanel purse,she is the fourth on the one of the lists for our parliament elections this fall.....and do you see this watching the Olympics?
    You'll figure how to find the balance in blogging,I am sure,because you have the mind,the strenght,the witt,the knowledge,the manners....and everything you need to be....perfect you!
    Enjoying the time with grandchildren is priceless IMO
    Dottoressa

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    1. Yes, you've got it -- these definitions and labels are too reductive to work for our complex personalities. They're useful enough when they're fresh and can open our sense of possibilities, but I believe they harden quite quickly with overuse, and they exercise their own constraining force.
      Wonderful example in Sandra Perkovic, and Congrats to her copatriots for the Croatian win -- very exciting! I looked at her IG feed, and I see that a week ago, she posted a photo of herself in "Princess mode" -- stunning gold skirt lifted to reveal sneakers. Proof positive that Princess and Badass can exist in the same package; it's not either/or.

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  11. I just need to add: Á chacun son goút-sorry ,I don't have the right l'accent- To each his/her own taste. We are mature enough to choose what's right for us,as long as it is not doing harm to others. Motorcycle road trip is great,playing with grandchildren is great (possibly not at the same time :-))
    D.

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    1. Absolutely agree, and I'm glad you say this. I worry that I might not have been clear enough about this point in my frustration about the implied (and false) dichotomy of Princess/Badass. Celebrating a 60th birthday with a motorcycle road trip is a cool thing to do, if that makes you happy. And if you're comfortable "blowing snot rockets" (and you check behind you first for possible landings) that's cool too. . . But you're right also that combining the motorcycle with the grandkids might not be a good idea. ;-)

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  12. Like you I don't accept that warrior/badass conflation. "Badass" to me is the woman willing to be a bit (or more) transgressive. She does not fit into the nice, safe, predictable mold. So I think of a portrait of Lauren Hutton I once saw, in which she wears a gorgeous white bikini- while wrestling an alligator. Badass has an edge- in our time, Joan Jett vs Joni. But it does not require snot rockets or motorcycles. And, Taylor Swift, you can't be badass just by buying the boots.

    Nor does badass equate to warrior. My most 'badass" friend breeds dogs in a cabin she built herself, gives her time as an interpreter for immigrants and is deeply nonviolent.

    Labels! They are imprecise, often applied through a sexist lens, and delimit the complexity of the person to whom they are applied.

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    1. Bottom line, for me at least, and you seem to agree, is that Complexity while necessarily challenging, is generally more rewarding. Women especially, imo, should guard against labels which threaten to set us against each other and confined by external constructions all over again. Transgression is useful, but sometimes it can be productively combined or packaged in surprisingly predictable, even "nice" women. Princess and badasses and warriors all in one . . .

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  13. That is not a term which is much used here in the UK but I agree entirely with your dislike of labels and of the polarisation that badass v princess implies. Does this happen to boys and men, this over simplification of what one is?

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    1. Nor in South Africa, according to Diana S, above, and I'm rather envious. I don't believe that it does happen to boys and men to the same extent, but I have a young relative working their way to gender fluidity right now, and trying to wrest language to their advantage -- it's tough! So much of our language gets gendered so very quickly.

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  14. Once again Frances, a great blog post. True confessions: when I trained for marathons, I perfected blowing my nose without a tissue. As a youngster, I would definitely have been classified as a tomboy, very athletic and fearless. As an older person, I am thankful for good health and love other pursuits be they reading, crafts, singing etc. I would like to think that I defy categorization and trendy pursuits. Thanks for your writing.

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    1. Good for you, MaryB! I'd say if ever there were a time for nose-blowing sans Kleenex, it would be during a Marathon. I just couldn't do it, and I guess I resent being forever condemned to non-badass (Princess! the ultimate shaming adjective!) territory for that fault. I'm being tongue-in-cheek, of course, but I'm serious about hating the rush to sort -- you on this side, me on that. I think that as long as I stay on the other side of your most active nostril, we could be Happy Runners together without having to divide our paths. I can tell you agree -- thank you! ;-)

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  15. You're back! I have missed you and your always insightful commentary that usually links to ideas floating in my head but not clearly expressed. I am in complete agreement about the overuse of labels. We seem (as a general society) to be unable to appreciate and celebrate a specific quality without having to identify and denigrate a supposed oppositional one. I am glad your blogging break has been helpful in helping you to identify a good way forward that meets your needs. Thank you for raising this point.

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    1. I do seem to be back, Beth, at least part-time, and obviously I've missed all of you as well.
      Yes! What's that about, that lauding the one must come at knocking down its supposed opposite? When really, the one who's being lauded might want to have herself a little bit of the qualities the other is sneered at for . . .
      Thanks for the comment and for the encouragement about rejoining the blogging stream. It's a lively one, isn't it!

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  16. Oooh, gooood post. I would write pages and pages about this - but I'll spare you with just these words...heh.

    I like the term badass, but only as a throwaway reactionary word. It just SOUNDS badass. I mean, it includes the word "ass" - oooh, just that word alone is bad. Of course the more it's used, the less edge it will have.

    Women still seem to lack catchy, unique vocabulary to describe strength, words which are not co-opted from male usage. Warrior to me sounds outdated and male-centric. The word feminist has tons of baggage with it, to the point some consider it a dirty word. Princess, well, nuff said. We need new words, strong words. Ballsy, vagina-y? Naaa.

    As for snot-rockets and horks, I have to weave along the downtown sidewalks to avoid them; they are becoming acceptable behaviour from well-dressed women and men both. It looks like they're showing off that they are "pro" sports people (badasses?) in their free time. ???!!! And when they powerwash the sidewalks, I cross the street knowing what's in the mist. GAAAA!!! The city needs to reintroduce spittoons.

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    1. I'm glad you added this comment, Melanie. It's a useful undercutting of the piling-on that happens when we indulge our rants a bit. I'm weary of the term, and I hate its opposition to supposed "Princesses," but there was a time when I liked the useful transgression Badass signalled. I probably still slip it into my own conversation occasionally, but I guess I'm fed up with the way its edginess tends to get awarded primarily to actions we might once have seen as "masculine" or to athletic or daring endeavours. Male-centric, as you say. Warrior? Why would women who are generally anti-military suddenly embrace this as a positive term? Plus there's a visibility component that maybe bugs me as well, and so often self-aggrandisement, as Annie says, above.
      When you can combine intrepid integrity, some passion for life, a willingness to take on some adventure with adequate support, an appreciation for cultural and intellectual pursuits, self-respect, consideration for, and kindness towards, one's fellow travelers (which might include not horking at them!!), you might not come up with a Badass or a Warrior or a Princess but rather someone more complex who deserves more than a Reductive Label. We do seem to lack a vocabulary which takes this combination for granted as a possibility, and I appreciate Badass as an attempt in that direction. I just hope we don't get stuck here for too long. . .
      Guffawing at your description of the city sidewalks. When I'm not shuddering, that is. The powerwashing. Ugggh! My reaction reveals me as complete Princess, and no apologies. . .

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  17. Great post and discussion. I hate labels. Retirement and maturity for me mean following my instincts and doing what makes me happy. I love celebrating my unique qualities.

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    1. Thanks for commenting, Mary Lou. And yes, that seems like maturity to me as well. No labels necessary.

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  18. Yes. I would indeed like to ditch the labels, and ditch them NOW. The constant imposition of catchy dichotomous terms (princess/badass, warrior/wimp) wearies me infinitely. It is possible for human beings to think beyond the binary of opposites to include more subtle and less sound-byte oriented concepts, and I truly believe that in doing so lies our salvation, if it is ever to be achieved. But it will take individual persistence, strength, endurance, and willingness to contradict lazy thinking/feeling/speaking, risking unpopularity at the very least. Oy!

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    1. "Individual persistence, strength, and willingness to contradict lazy thinking/feeling/speaking, risking unpopularity at the very least." -- sounds pretty Badass to me! ;-) We can do it, right?
      Thanks Marsha.

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  19. I don't desperately want my grandchildren to remember me for my awesome snot-rockets ...

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  20. So agree with all the rejecting of labels, divisions, put downs. It just remains to say that as someone who has lived in TB endemic places, spitting, nose blowing, etc, are not just offensive, they can be a danger to public health. So bravo kleenex, etc.

    ceci

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    1. Bravo kleenex indeed! I must say I have a visceral sense of someone else's mucus as potentially disease-carrying (although the "snot rockets" on running trails can be blown thoughtfully, I'm quick to acknowledge, and many good people do so without compromising hygiene, my husband among them. . .

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  21. What bothers me is not the term itself, but labelling as badass those who are only marketing a persona. Beyoncé as badass? Taylor Swift? They are merely jumping on a very safe bandwagon. And no risk means no badassery. Just a lot of money.

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    1. Yes, I think this might be part of what bothers me as well. There are aspects of the term that I think quite worthwhile, the iconoclastic side of it that's clearing new space for women. But the bandwagon-jumping and the marketing, yes -- that combination seems to insist on a narrow definition of Badassery's potential Bold and Purposeful Complexity. . . .

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  22. Well, Xena was a Warrior Princess, so I will leave it at that. ;-)

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  23. Still laughing over this one
    "I could not spit on the ground, in public or private, or blow a "snot rocket," to save my life".
    And this one , worth repeating several times over .....
    "And it's supremely wearying, honestly, to think that yet more bars are being raised, more standards of judgment on how cool we're managing to be post 60. . "
    Here here to that one.
    Must come back to read the thread of comments, but this is why I encourage to you to keep writing. Your way with words is brilliant .


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  24. Nothing to add on the subject of binary categories except that I thought that with Post-Colonialism and Deconstruction and All That we had left these simplistic ideas far behind us, but apparently that's not the case.
    The idea that bad manners, ruthlessness, physical courage and - in the end - violence are positive qualities is profoundly macho, and it doesn't become less so by now being expressed by supposedly "modern" youg women. Poor things, they will come round some time when they hit the glass ceiling and can't get back in their old jobs after the second baby. Then they will find out that "snot rockets" won't get them anywhere and the qualities required are resilience, common sense and the courage to stand up for your rights.
    BTW: The first time I came across the term "badass" was in a TV program my son used to watch (he's gone off it by now, thank god). Young people doing or allowing to be done to them the most disgusting or painful things - for money, of course. So for me, the term also means allow yourself to be fooled, manipulated and exploited.

    If blogging takes up too much of your life, if at every step and every beautiful sight you think about how to convert your experience into an amusing text, "shaping personal anecdotes and quotidian activities into latent paragraphs" as you say, maybe reducing your blagging activities is the right thing to do. But we do need you for a collective rant like this one from time to time!

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    1. Oh dear, those typos! It's "young", of course, and "blogging".

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    2. Eleonore, I did wonder if perhaps my Post-Structuralist, PostColonial, Feminist, PostModern academic self wasn't getting bored with retirement and stirring herself to protest a big too vigorously, setting up the poor old Badass as a bit of a Straw Woman ;-) . . . Always look for the aporia, right?
      Yes to "resilience, common sense, and the courage to stand up for your rights" -- In many ways, this Badassery is simply a Back to the Future move. This has always already been available -- marketing is just trying to find a way to make it sexy now. . .

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  25. I actually had to look up the term snot rocket, although I thought it was clear. As someone with major allergies I guess I could attempt this, but I too have lived places where that could lead to disease transmission so I'll pass. It took many tries to get enough spit for a DNA sample so I guess I fail that one too....

    Still I agree with Eleonore that resilience, common sense and courage are much better skills to have, and those I work hard on.

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    1. Yes, Lynn, with some chronic sinusitis going on, perhaps I, too, am a good candidate for learning to blow, Kleenex-free. . . ;-)
      (and the image of you being so non-Badass as to be unable to spit for DNA -- sorry, but that really made me chuckle)
      Eleonore really has summarised well the important values.

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  26. Haven't read through all of the comments yet, but this "warrior or princess" trope strikes me as another way of denigrating the Feminine. (Not culturally constructed femininity, but rather those traits of kindness, nurturing, gentleness, and grace that I think the world could use a lot more of right now!) And I really hate these false dichotomies, which would force us to deny aspects of ourselves. Strength and courage have a lot of faces, and not all of them (or most of them?) involve putting oneself at risk, potentially alienating others, behaving anti-socially or aping destructive conventions of masculinity. Grrr... If using a Kleenex makes me a loser, well sign me up. And f*ck that nonsense.

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    1. Or I should say in that first sentence, "denigrating the qualities that have been associated with the Feminine."

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    2. Yes, that's worth emphasising, Sue. For me, it does seem to denigrate those aspects traditionally associated with the Feminine, and I can see why, finding those expectations of nurturing, gentleness, etc., confining, some are impatient to shuck them off. But simply flinging the restraining net over another group of women doesn't free us.
      And I had to grin at your "f*ck" because like you, I almost never use such language on the blog, but my IRL mouth tends a wee bit to the potty side. Badass, even. . . ;-)

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  27. I'm just now catching up on blog reading after many months and have loved your delightful writings and thoughts. Not much to add except that one of my major aging benefits is not really caring about those external labels much anymore...and more concerned with challenging myself in all areas of my life just for my own sense of accomplishment. So your hike is something I admire and my own Snowdonia hiking last summer was an accomplishment for me,,,but so is the patience to design and complete an Alabama Chanin stitching project. "I am multitudes" and you are too. Thanks for returning to blogging and sharing your musings and beautiful pics.

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    1. It's true, isn't it? If we've developed any wisdom at all by now, it lets us rip the labels off -- or walk right past their gates. . .
      That Snowdonia hiking must have been marvelous -- I'd love to get to Wales again -- we were there once decades ago and only near the coast (Harlech), but my husband, especially, looked longingly at that Snowdonia range and hoped we might get back someday. . .
      Are you blogging your Alabama Chanin project? I did a bit of googling and it look intriguing -- a mix of appliqué and embroidery but then folded into garment design and construction -- and that's just a start, right?
      Thanks for taking the time to say you enjoy the blog -- it makes a difference!

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  28. Oh dear, someone thinks that using a tissue to blow my nose makes me a princess? I've been guilty of using the P word to describe young women (I have not yet met a woman over 40 who behaves this way) who expects others to defer to her whims and pamper her at every turn. Alas, there are a few of these in my circle. Bridal season brings them out of the woodwork, as do baby showers. "Audacious" is a word I enjoy and frequently apply to women I admire. Kudos to you for being an audacious athlete and a good role model to your granddaughter.

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    1. I've also been guilty of describing a person or a behaviour pattern as "Princess" when what I really mean is someone who's too particular, too prissy or fussy for a situation.
      I agree that "audacious" is a great word, and thank you for applying it to me. I can skew to a trifle shy/timid on occasion, but love to aspire to a certain audacity ;-)

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I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

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