Retrofitting Vintage

This Week In Old-Fashioned Despair

This blog is focused on sifting out the good of the past. You know, stuff like a DIY ethic, midcentury style, and petticoats. But it’s worth saying every once in a while that those things are mixed in with a lot of garbage. And unlike cardigan clips and rotary phones, that garbage endures today.

I don’t generally use this blog to discuss politics outright. Frankly, I’m conflicted about that.

On the one hand, considering the past is not apolitical. It doesn’t take that much to get from midcentury style to midcentury values. I feel dishonest not acknowledging that. It’s never been my desire to look at the past through rose-colored glasses. All the pretty New Look fashion in the world can’t cover up the power structures and oppression of the societies that wore it.

On the other hand, I know that the only way I won’t succumb to complete despair is if I spend at least some of my time not considering the state of the world. Small joys fuel the longevity of my ire.

And then there’s the fact that I have readers with varying political opinions, and that our love for old things is a rare point of common ground.

But here’s another reason, one that seems particularly relevant today: There are big disincentives for a woman to get political on the Internet. Trolls have a way of finding you. This little blog isn’t a huge platform or anything, but it’s at least in the back of mind: “Do I want to sift through death threats, rape threats, and name-calling in the comments because I talked about FDR? Do I want to call any attention to myself? Is it worth it?” And the fact of the matter is, for me the answer is often, “No.”

This is merely an online version of the kind of silencing women (and other marginalized people) are subject to all the time. It’s not even the denial of platforms, or outright being told to shut up, although those are obviously still issues. It’s knowing that if you say something, there will be unfairly negative consequences. The problem isn’t that you’ll say something and someone will disagree with you. It’s that you’ll be met with violence or the threat of it. So you shut up before you’ve even started.

It’s remarkably similar to, say, not going where you want, or wearing what you want, or doing what you want because somebody, somewhere is going to use that as an excuse to assault you. And knowing that, should you be anything less than a perfect victim (perfect victims are always silent), the power structures will not deign to take you seriously.

I suspect I’ll continue to be conflicted about politics on this blog. I imagine this blog will mostly remain a respite from the grinding, crushing world. But I also can’t, in good conscience, promise no politics. I’m not going to do the silencing work for the patriarchy. It can do its own damn work.

 

Image: Library of Congress. 

 

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