What’s the past, and how do we remember it?

Hi again all,

Its a bit early, but lately I’ve been thinking about my childhood a bunch. I remember all the good things – dunkaroos, Rugrats, animaniacs, and playing kickball at recess during school.

I also didn’t remember a lot of the bad/non-optimal things that may have existed during those times, too – a lack of a constant link to my family via the internet or phone, inefficiency of actually checking out books in a library, some bullying, and my parent’s existence in a time where the housing bubble began to build up over false pretenses about the future value of homes.

But what’s interesting is that even at this point in my life – 21 years old, ready to graduate with a promising career as a teacher – I’m still sometimes thinking about how great it was “back then”.

Much of what’s going to be written on this blog is going to have to do with different frames of thought that existed a few decades ago (and even up until today in certain areas) – so, lets address what these stereotypes were, as well as how we perceive them today. In fact, here’s an article written by an online journal concerning the topic. Even our Betty Friedan (who’s going to come up quite a bit in the future) makes an appearance:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/womens-life/9900099/Why-is-the-1950s-housewife-making-a-comeback.html

I highly suggest you go through the piece, as its well-written an has a solid point to make. Incase you don’t have the time, I’ll summarize it: The article claims that by an large, the idea of becoming a “housewife” in the modern age has become rather unfashionable – women seek to move on to things that they and society might deem “bigger and better”. However, there seems to be some sort of a comeback into the fashion of it all. The writer cites examples of popular figures such as fashion designers who have created lines of products geared towards the reto, 1950’s-era style of housewives, and even Taylor Swift (a pretty large role model for the female youth in America) has been quoted as saying certain things that might hint at a desire to “lose” agency in relationships.Perhaps the most intriguing quote in the article came from Cal State’s women’s studies professor Shira Tarrant:

“Wearing kitschy aprons or a form-fitting Betty Draper frock can be fun, sexy, or even practical. But this fashion revival is also powerfully symbolic and political. At this very same moment when opportunities are expanding, there is a revived appeal of the 1950s middle-class housewife look, with all its domestic associations still held firmly in place. This timing is curious. Just when social and economic expectations are shifting, we go retro.”

I think much of this can speak to how we tend to romanticize the past – no matter how brutal or unappealing it may have actually been.

This can be seen in a bunch of ways, but particularly in, say, a conversation with one’s elders, who constantly gripe about the present, always wanting to head back to “the good ol’ days” – filled with always friendly neighbors, students respecting their teachers and never getting in trouble, and an 18-year old drinking age, which didn’t cause any harm to anyone ever, right?

Obviously, there are issues with all of the ways that we idealize the past that I’ve listed above – but those are just some things off the top of my head. I’m sure any older reader can pick out a few him/herself as well. Essentially, I’m trying to say that once we’re removed from an experience (i.e. childhood or a certain ‘comfort zone’) we tend to idealize certain aspects of it, which may not leave us with the most accurate rendition of it. This seems to certainly be the case with women’s fashion now, and the mid-20th century as a whole. Let’s not forget all the downsides of that era, ranging from higher violent crime rates, staunch anti-communist hatred, and racialized segregation.

Is the same thing happening on a societal level today that’s happening to the way I’m remembering my own past? Maybe. What do you think?

Image

I can tell you one thing that isn’t debatable, though – godlike Dunkaroos, man. Not the chocolate ones, though.

 

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