Jun. 14th, 2013

alexxkay: (Bar Harbor)
Not long ago, [livejournal.com profile] kestrell scanned a book of ancient greek poetry (_Seven Greeks_ translated by Guy Davenport). I had to do some serious proofing help on that, because most of it consists of stuff that only exists now as fragments, and the OCR program tended to make poor choices about what piece went where. So I ended up reading the book, in some depth, myself. Kes has already shared excerpts from two of her favorites: Archilochos, the warrior-poet, and Diogenes, philosopher, curmudgeon, and professional beggar.

My favorite was a playwright named Herondas from 3rd century BC. He wrote little 10-minute-long satirical skits for a single performer playing multiple roles (presumably using props and accents). And if you modernized the names, these could have been written yesterday.

There's one making fun of pretentious people trying to outdo each other in art appreciation. There's one with a mother asking a schoolmaster to discipline her no-good son. There's one with a small businessman acting as his own lawyer in court, far less impressively than he thinks. There's one about an older woman trying to convince a young married woman to have an affair since her husband is away on business.

There's even one about women spending all day in the shoe store, trying things on, but not actually buying anything! I never suspected that *that* trope went back over two millenia!

My favorite bit, though, might be considered NSFW, so have a cut:Read more... )
alexxkay: (Bar Harbor)
A lot of people I know are concerned because their social circle (or subculture, or industry) has suffered from an increasing number of scandals due to systemic sexism and racism and other types of Fail in recent years. People fear that their group is somehow degenerating.

In the examples I am closely familiar with, what's going on is exactly the opposite of degenerating, though things appear bad on the surface. The truth is that the institutional Fail has been there all along. What's changed is the context the Fail happens in. On a broad level, societal mores are changing (if not as quickly as we would like). On a more personal level, many fewer victims are willing to quietly accept it when tribal elders mistreat them. More people are willing to speak up, and patterns of abuse in specific individuals become more apparent. Moreover, many people who would have formerly stood by and shrugged their shoulders when seeing only rare instances of abuse, convert to active allies when they are made aware of its actual extent.

I hear people say things like "Why should I stay part of a group that has such vile members in it?"

I'll tell you why. Because *every* group of human beings (larger than about three) contains some assholes, at least at first formation. If you have groups which *don't* contain assholes, then it's because people have done the work to make it clear to the assholes that they are Not Welcome. Such things do not occur on their own.

I'm not saying that you are morally obligated to reform every group that exists, far from it. But if you think a group sounds like a neat place to be, if only it wasn't for the assholes -- then at least consider whether it's worth your while to try and push the assholes out. It's more possible than you might think, and gets easier every time it happens.

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Alexx Kay

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