I’m making my students read an article from The New Republic called, “Flapper Jane.” It’s about a stereotypical 19-year-old woman (who, by the way, is positively adamant that she is not part of “the younger generation.” Those girls are 15-17) who made waves by how she dressed and how she thought.
From time to time I make them have an online discussion where they have to write a response and reply to two other responses. This not only gets them talking but teaches them how not to be buttholes—or rather it teaches them online etiquette (That part sounds better).
The topic they had to write on was whether or not a person’s attire mirrors their political affiliation. The “Flapper Jane” article said it did, so I asked them if that kind of thing still happens. I’m anxious to see their answers.
Lookin’ Like a Political Fool With Your Political Pants on the Ground
We talk about stereotypes a good bit in my class. This year, I have a good amount of guys—9 of my 86 are girls—so I tend to use a to-the-point language. I do that anyway, but when I have a collection of football players, mechanic students, computer nerds, and ELL students, I don’t dance around topics. When we talk about race, we talk about race.
I use this stereotype to break the tension and lay the groundwork for how we’re going to talk: You see a druggie on the street. He’s addicted to crack. What color is he? You see another druggie on the street. He’s addicted to crystal meth. What color is he? We tend to assign one race to one drug problem, and another race to another drug problem. We over look the fact that both races are in the grips of a drug problem.
Stereotypes allow us to ignore the obvious issues and spin our wheels and pretend like we actually (read: allegedly) solved a problem.
Back in the day, the political schism was between men and women. Black men couldn’t vote. Black women couldn’t vote. White women couldn’t vote. Everyone keep in your place, and all will be fine.
Enter the 1920s. After intermission, enter the 1960s.
What’s Black, White, Red, and Blue All Over?
We’ve been taught not to judge a book by it’s cover. Actually, we’ve been taught to not let people know we judge books by their cover. There’s almost an expected uniform that the Reds will wear.
Used to be the same for musicians too. Justins? Jordans? Chacos? Chucks? Not as easy anymore. There’s a black guy on the country station, and a white guy on the hip hop station. And they’re accepted staples of the genre.
The classroom is starting to look similar. The black kids are wearing Justin work boots and the white kids are wearing Jordans. What has the world come to?
I even know a few people in this world that don’t fit their political stereotype. I’ve met a gay Republican, a conservative Democrat, and a wealthier than typical Socialist leaning fella. And the ironic thing is they were all friends.
I saw an interview with Paul Ryan. Like him or not, he said something that I believe have been missing from politics for a while. He said he believes politicians can disagree without being required to turn your counterpart into a villain. If we disagree on policy, apparently we disagree on everything. The only thing left to do after we vote against each other is tear each other apart. Wonder if we can bring back duels.
Great-Granny Flapper Fran
I wonder how many of us are on a fat, high horse. The fat ones don’t allow us to see the ground. It’d be fun to air out everyone’s family history. Prim and proper would turn into scandal city. Great-Granny Flapper Fran is probably part of the welcome wagon at church. But we can’t tell that about her by looking at her, so it doesn’t count.
I love getting to cover topics like this with my classes. Gives me hope that those saggy-pants, skinny jeans, boot wearing, polo shirt tucked in, Nike socks, flat billed, kids are capable to handle the future.
At least they’ll dress the part.