10.07.2005

It's like I've been transported through time

If y'all would care to look at the photo album to the right entitled "My Digs," you will see the charming view of my backyard. You will also see that my laundry is hanging from the line out there. That's right. There is no dryer. There is just this tiny washer that takes 1 hour to wash clothes, and then you hang them up, much as the pioneers did. I understand that it saves on lots and lots of energy and money this way, though, and I'm extremely lucky not to have to try to do this in a laundromat or dorm room. So please understand that the following is not a complaint, but a cultural observation.

This morning found me crouched in front of the washer with my eyes squinted and my mouth agape. It's one of those front-loading kinds so I could see exactly what it was doing. This machine was not washing my clothes so much as it was tossing them, gingerly, the way you or I might toss a Cobb salad if we thought it was going to explode at any second. The little hamster wheel turned for exactly 3 seconds, then stopped for 10, as if afraid that if it went any further the laundry might think it was trying to get fresh. I watched this process in disbelief for about 7 cycles, then figured I'd better just go get dressed or I'd be late for school. I guess the clothes got clean somehow, though, even though I wasn't around to see it.

Turns out I wasn't around to hang them up, either, because when I got back from class they were already up on the line. So it wasn't so much that I was being a pioneer, on account of I didn't even hang the stuff up myself. Only you know what? It was kind of good that someone else did it first, because otherwise I would have had no earthly clue how to do it. And all the English people would have looked over from their yards and laughed. And then I would have yelled something nasty about how in America we have machines to do this for us, so who's laughing now???

Then I would've been asked to leave.

As promised, though, here are the stories I said I would tell:

1. I went into this shop called Primark and found a great brown dress that didn't have any tags on it, so it rang up for 4 pounds. It's a stretchy cotton wrap dress with 3/4-length sleeves and these cool Grecian-looking rope things around the waist, and it comes down to just below the knee. And as long as an errant wind never blows it completely open while I'm walking to Church on Sunday, I should be good to go. Did I mention it was only 4 quid?

2. The new exercise policy--Turns out I lied and you'll have to wait for this one.

3. Becoming a Feminist Goddess of Doooom--First class was today, and it turns out that it's actually an undergraduate class and that there's only one other postgrad in there. We get our own assignments and everything, but still. That kind of kills some of the joy. I knew something was off, though, when I started seeing hot-pink lace thongs everywhere. The other way you know it's an undergrad class is that no one will speak up, even though it's about really really cool stuff like gender socialization and ways that parents & others consciously (and unconsciously) reinforce the ways they think boys and girls are supposed to behave.

Most of my grade will be from a 2,000 word essay I have to write. I get to pick from these topics (these are my own shorter summaries of the topics, btw):

1. Discuss the arguments for & against women working in libraries in the late 19th & early 20th centuries. How did the library profession develop into the female-dominated one that it is today?
2. What happens in IT and computing industries to contribute to its being a male-dominated industry & one that has a reputation for being "chilly" for women?
3. If pornography is about domination and violence against women, shouldn't it be banned?
4. Explore and analyze the viewpoint that advertisements present limited and often demeaning stereotypes of men and women.
5. How and to what extent do magazines send out messages about bodily appearance and acceptable social roles/behavior for men and women?
6. Discuss the establishment of women's presses in the 1970s, and how they have promoted women writers.

So much fun! I don't know which one to pick yet, but so far 3-5 look the most interesting to me. The other postgrad is looking at #3, and I'm interested to see what she comes up with. Even though I hate pornography, I don't know how you would go about trying to ban it. I mean, where would you start? And what would be included--would pictures and films made at home count? What about books? Who decides which books are pornographic? Would any book containing sex count? What about art? Where do you draw the line?

And even if the stores stopped selling magazines like Playboy, you would still have the Internet to deal with. How could you possibly traffic the Internet for all porn, when law enforcement officers can't keep up with child pornography as it is? Plus, like drugs, enough people are addicted to it that the demand for pornography won't suddenly go away once it's illegal. People will just find illegal ways of producing and distributing it. So sad, but I think these are true points.

21 comments:

JB said... [reply]

1. That dress sounds like a crazy-good buy.

2. I can survive without the exercise policy, for now.

3. Sounds like the class still has a lot of potential, although you'll probably be one of the dominant figures. A dominant figure in the group of Feminist Godess Doomdum. That's just cool.

4. I'm moderately surprised that you aren't as interested in option 1 for the paper, but couldn't say that I blame you. I agree that the pornography one would be really tough. When you "outlaw" stuff, you just create a stronger "black market" for it. But then, it might be really nice if it just plain didn't exist! :)

amyjane said... [reply]

Hey, I hate porn too! Remember the anti-porn rally? Also, I am newly grateful for my fully modernized, on-site landromat facilities, thank you very much. Although I still very much miss Cortland Ridge's lovely washer-dryer condo set-up.

edgy killer bunny said... [reply]

Is your house really as crooked as it looks? Which would perhaps explain all the spiders in your room. (Do you like how that one little incident is now a defining feature? I thought so.) Either your room is in a corner at the bottom, in which case they can't help but visit you as they are falling that direction. Or your room is in a corner at the top, in which case they are fleeing to safety in your room, much like all the people did in that one movie with Kate and Leo and the Big Boat.

I think you should do essay 1 and post it here for all of us. But I only say that because I (apparently in a state of grand ignorance) didn't realize that librarians were ever not women. Marian, Madame Librarian, has given me a false impression of the profession.

With the pornography essay, though I think it's an interesting discussion, I don't know if anything can be done because of definitions. Doesn't any argument over what is pornography boil down to "I can't define it but I know it when I see it"? Although an interesting perspective to take on the topic might be those women who, to be honest, rather scare me because they don't find pornography demeaning but empowering.

Julie said... [reply]

Hmmmm The back garden, as you call it in the uk (it has a lawn for heaven's sake) looks quite average. I hadn't realised that people in the US didn't hang their washing out. Having said that, most people I know have a dryer these days.

The essay, well as you say, the pornography is a challenge. When I did a similar kind of course (but around gender and health), we got nothing like as interesting assignments. I am seriously jealous!

Streets of Belfast said... [reply]

I can completely relate with the washing. I must have stared at mine for like 15 minutes trying to figure out if there was even enough water in there to clean my clothes. I would think, though, that a faster but more powerful cycle would not take more energy but would wash the clothes more efficiently. Fortunately, we do have dryers in Northern Ireland. I too left my laundry in the wash and when I returned not only was my laundry dry, but my landlady, the mother of the guy I'm dating, was folding it right there in the front room in front of him. There is just no way around the fact that garments are just not sexy.

Ooh, we have Primark here too and it is very large and fun and so cheep.

JB said... [reply]

In London, we had some friends who had a washer and dryer IN ONE. It was really cool. They made sure to tell us all about how safe for the environment it is compared to most dryers and all that...I didn't even realize it was a problem!

We didn't have a dryer in our flat, though. It's kind of annoying to have to hang dry everything. And we didn't really have access to the backyard/garden so we hung it up in our flat. I imagine there will be times when it's raining (what a concept, huh?) and you'll have to dry it inside too, but it's kinda cool that you can dry your stuff outside right now.

That'll be a new one. Instead of "crap, my windows are open," you'll be thinking "crap, my clothes are out 'drying.' "

You have a pretty nice backyard/garden. The joys of living in a house and not a flat! :)

Miss Hass said... [reply]

Your garden is darling! And I'm totally jealous of the cheese and chocolate access.

Cicada said... [reply]

Can we please get a picture of you in the dress? Because I really want to see it. Not in a creepy Internet picture share sort of way, but because I love you and I think I love your dress.

Also, when I saw the heater in your room, I meant to mention this, but then I thought it would be irrelevant since England would SURELY have clothes dryers.

Anyway, here's the trick: If you need something to dry faster than the damp and freezing English air is allowing it to dry (if I had a picture of the frozen-solid sweater I took off the line outside my apartment in Florence, I'd show it to you), then hang it over your heater when it's on. Amazing, I tell you. Dry underwear in under 10 minutes.

daltongirl said... [reply]

Since EKB stole my idea about Marian the Librarian (I still think you should take the easy way out and choose Option #1), I'll just tell you how they do laundry in Japan instead. By the way, the washer is always outside. Always. And it's cold in the wintertime.

1. Turn on hose that is hanging over the side of the washer. Fill drum up with freezing cold water.
2. Turn on agitation timer and add detergent.
3. After agitator drains, take freezing cold clothes out of drum, and place in adjacent drum--drum #2.
4. Turn on spinner timer.
5. Turn on hose again and fill drum #1 with clean water.
6. Remove spun clothing from drum #2 and return to drum #1.
7. Repeat entire process, sans detergent. This is the rinse cycle.
8. Hang clothes out to dry.

Also, in the dead of winter, you may need to break a film of ice off the entire machine before starting.

All this from the highest-tech country in the world. Oh, I want to go back, really I do.

FoxyJ said... [reply]

Oh yes, I know I was raving about European grocery stores, but I really don't miss the crunchy clothes very much. Or the fact that everywhere you go in Spain people have giant pairs of panties hanging out of the window to dry.

DanaLee said... [reply]

NERD ALERT! Not only did I read the list of topics and give big sigh thinking, "ONLY ONE", but also I immediately began thinking of other gender related issues related to children’s literature to which my brain then immediately began outlining how I would complete the assignment and what sources I could use. Man you are so lucky.

Savvymom said... [reply]

How do clothes get dry on the line in rainy, cold england? Does it really work? I am totally skeptical

sakhmet said... [reply]

1)Laundry doesn't sound like so much fun, but perhaps it will be gentler on your knits.

2)I would love to take the class. You're going to kick some undergrad trash.

3)I think #6 sounds interesting--what if you did a YA spin on it?

4) As for porn: my theory is that this is an issue requiring social TRANSFORMATION, not social change (in the form of a ban.) Legislating any kind of morality is almost always ineffective, and taxing the hell out of cigarettes doesn't stop people from smoking. I think there needs to be an effort to destroy the market for the insidious crap: teach/convince/reform men and women that no one's body ought to be objectified, and no one will want to buy Playboy. We focus (rightly so) on teaching young women that they should respect their bodies and to ignore the message of the media, but we don't take the next step and devote as much time to encouraging men to respect the physical body and that when they drool over porn it inevitably changes they way they treat women. We just tell them they're all perverts or they're all bound to perverts, and they'd better watch out. (I mean, we sometimes do it more delicately and with a touch more doctrine than that but...you catch my drift.)

Panini said... [reply]

That porn one sounds like it'd be a hard one to write. So are you and the other grad student going to dominate the class with your self-assurance, BS degrees and take discussion into a deeper and more open realm than the young ones are ready for? I bet it'll be fascinating...but word up about the disappointing part...
p.s. the house is so cute and I laughed out loud when I read your imaginary conversation about clothes on the line (what a sweet land-lady)

chosha said... [reply]

We wouldn't even have the internet as developed as it is without the porn...sad but true.

The clothes thing will be a pain in winter. Best find yourself a clothes horse so you can dry stuff indoors.

CoolMom said... [reply]

My mom hangs all of her clean undry clothes on clothes hangers and hangs them in the bathroom because she doesn't like dryers that much (they shrink your clothes).

Also, she hung all of the family laundry on clotheslines (it gets cold in Virginia) until I was about 10 years old or so. Imagine all those cloth diapers! It was in the late 60's, probably just before they bought a color tv. See how lucky we are to have so many modern things?

BTW, are your underwear hanging outside? Please tell me "no". Unless it's not true, of course.

Julie said... [reply]

You are right about drying clothes in winter, unless it is reasonably warm and also breezy. Thats why most people I know have a dryer. I hate clothes all around the house!

E said... [reply]

If you iron your clothes while they're still slightly damp, then they look AWESOME once they're dry.

Nemesis said... [reply]

Jessica--thanks for the input on the paper & for reminding me that instead of moaning about my gender class I should be finding a way to bend it to my will! That's always better, really. And I do like having such a pretty backyard to look at!

Amyjane--I'm so so happy that you're on here now. I mean, I was happy knowing that were reading, but even happier now that you have a blog too. And by now you probably saw what I did to your voltage adapter, so I'm really sorry . . .

EKB--It's not as crooked as it looks. I think I must have a short leg or something.

Julie--thanks for letting me know that there are dryers in the UK, even if I don't currently have unlimted access to one. :-) In the US pretty much everyone who has a washer will also have a dryer. If you live in an apartment, you might not get either.

Streets--Bwah hah hahahah to your landlady folding your underwear in front of your new bf. I know I would have turned 8 shades of red.

Thanks Hass--you know my cheese is your cheese.

Cici--thanks again for the radiator tip! I will do my best not to burn the place down with it. Can you still do that?

Daltongirl--I'm pretty much so so sorry for everything you've ever told me about living in Japan.

Foxyj--"Crunchy clothes" is the perfect word for it! And what's worse is that it turns out my jeans don't fit right without the dryer, so they're all baggy and weird now.

Danalee--you're my favorite nerd, and I've got that reading list to send you!

Sahkmet--Word. As always. I wish you were taking the class with me.

Cam--Thanks for sympathizing, and for laughing at the thought of me getting deported by English housewives. :-)

Chosha--The clothes horse, she is procured. And I found another one of those huntsmen or whatever spiders last, so I'd better try your remedy!

Hi Mom--turns out I needed my dryer to shrink my clothes (as you can see in the story of the jeans that now look stupid instead of sassy).

Amber said... [reply]

Sounds like you have a fantastic argument going on #3 as well. But then again, I am positive you can take any of those topics and come up with a compelling argument.

Croatia's washing machines had about as much success in getting clothes clean. We had a plastic contraption with slots to hang our clothes on though, even though most people had lines with some of their skimpy underwear handing on for the whole world to see!

Speaking of landladies...I had one that would (even though we had a completely separate apartment from hers) come in during the day while we were gone, fold all of our laundry, go through our stuff, and then yell at us when we got home because of one thing or another.

Angry, elderly Croatian women are not fun to deal with, when you tell them to not come into your apartment anymore!

chosha said... [reply]

Nemesis - hope it works well (the spidey remedy). I hates them critters.

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