Thursday, December 13, 2012

Fashionable Politics - Anecdotes

I have three long posts backed up.  It occurs to me, editing them, that I am not saying anything that others aren't.  I am just trying my hand at saying things well, to see if I have anything to add.  But I don't think I do.  So I will try a different tack. No close arguments here.  My brain is too feeble.

BTW, the number of people saying "a different tact" makes me crazy.  The phrase comes from sailing, and tacking into the wind.

The oldest incomplete post is the followup on fashionable politics.  This brilliant salon was not a lot of help, frankly. However, as I myself have not been scintillating, I can hardly grouse more than a little at you.  So.  Anecdotes, to set the stage.

A psychiatrist friend had traveled with her new husband through Tennessee.  There was a conference of some sort there, and they thought it a good excuse to get away for a bit.  She is an excellent storyteller and conversationalist, and upon her return she was playing up the cultural differences - not to the advantage of the Tennesseans, as you may imagine.  She mentioned in particular that not only were young men driving pickup trucks with flag decals and suggestive bumper stickers, but young women too.  Also, she noticed that there was much more variety of supermarket checkout "news"-papers and scandal sheets.  A few sentences later, she smirked, "yeah it's a pretty red state." 

I smirked back, because even though Lisa is quite liberal, she is able to hear and more objective than most folks. "Well, Tennessee is pretty purple, actually.  And you're sure it's Republican women buying the Enquirer?"  I did not mention that mention that Democrats have carried the less-than-high-school-education demographic as far back as we've been measuring that. And now I would have an even readier answer, because Obama carrying the single women, with or without children, was big news this election.  Who does she think is buying the Star, and what does she think the marital status of suggestive bumper stickers is?  Hell, I don't know that they are Democrats, either, but that would sure be the way to bet, wouldn't it?  With the Dems owning both groups, you'd think they'd be strong in the overlap.

Next, my cousin visited NH from the Pacific Northwest in the summer of 2000.  He has been here occasionally over the years, but not much as an adult. Basically, what he knows is what he reads in the mainstream media.  Driving up from Logan to Wolfeboro, he had noticed some bookstores visible from the highway in Massachusetts, but not any in NH.  "Hell no!  This is Bush country here!." I will note in passing that the Exeter-Hampton-Portsmouth area he saw first has an extremely high concentration of great little used-book stores, and the rest of his route up Rte 16 and over has a few as well.  Maybe he only notices Barnes and Nobles or Borders or something.  But either way, his cultural assumption was striking - especially as it is exactly backward. 

Third, my hospital has groups of students in all the time, most notably nursing students and medical students.  Both are predominantly female.  It is clear that the Dartmouth medical students, who are a bit older and likely a bit brighter, do not mingle much with the nursing students, even though they share space.  No one says a negative word, but to an outside observer it is obvious that they consider themselves above them.  And from their perspective, they are.  They are not likely to share space socially for the rest of their days.  The nursing students giggle more, and are a bit coarser.  They don't know how that pushes them down socially, but the med students know it.

But to a man in his late fifties, their conversation sounds equally shallow and devoted to establishing and upholding fashion norms for their tribe.  Eye-rolling and other nonverbals figure prominently.  It's just a different fashion. Sometimes it is explicit anti-fashion, about those women who are too deep in downmarket popular culture, including a classmate or two who should smarten up and get her act together. 

That's not a Republican or Democrat example, BTW.  For all I know, those med students might all be Republicans and the nurses Democrats.  I'm just noticing class assumptions here.

HPYS women and their imitators hear "single women" as a demographic and think of themselves.  Everyone slips into that bad habit.  But I think liberals are especially oblivious in this area.  They really don't get that this popular culture that they think themselves above and go to great lengths to separate themselves from, does not all belong to their political opponents.  In fact, it looks more likely that if they vote at all, they would lean "D."

1 comment:

Sam L. said...

About tacks--most folks don't know sailing. Those almost-homonyms can get us in trouble.

Lisa--making conclusions with no data, by presumption.

Your NW cousin--would he be from the Seattle area/region?

Those students--med students gonna be docs, and will look down on nursing students and nurses until a nurse slaps some sense into them.
Just my opinion. A Physics prof told me that a doctor will give you the "heart is like a pump" mode if you act intelligent, and go into venous cavities and auricles if you don't.