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Honour Your Inner Magpie

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one snippet from Barb Jensen's new book
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So I went to the book-release party for READING CLASSES, by Barbara Jensen, which is a very fine book from Cornell University Press and you should all buy a copy. In the course of what she read from the book and talked about, one thing in particular struck home to me. She talked about the differences between middle class and working class ways of doing things in terms of "becoming" and "belonging," and along the way she talked about competition. She talked about how competition and individualism are held up and venerated by middle class culture, and how they are assumed to be "the way things are," and middle class values are assumed to be better than working class values. (That would be classism, for anybody wondering.)

"Societywide institutions, like public education, do the same thing: presume we all think and learn like middle class people do, that we all work best as individuals in competition."

Classism results in things like middle class people who believe the only happy ending for working class people would be to "lift themselves up" and become middle class.

Classism also results in things like a person from an upper middle class background telling someone from a working class background who dares to challenge the utter naturalness and inevitability of the competition way of life, who dares to say that they personally prefer non-competitive ways of relating and getting along and having fun, that they are "actually being very competitive by saying that they prefer to be non-competitive."

How utterly solipsistic. How unthinkingly, unashamedly, breathtakingly classist. With condescension sauce on top, too.

(Yeah, that hit me on a sore spot. It's a long story. And they can just bite me.)

OK, onward to the rest of the book. You guys should get a copy, really.

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If I was a bad person, I would tell you how clearly competitive this post is. And then I would grin, duck, and run!

:tosses an artichoke at you:
:tosses a small sealed container of melted butter with Meyer lemon juice at you:

Solipistic, classist, condescending, and very much inviting the response "so if you think I'm being competitive, why do you mind the way I'm doing it? Who says you get to make the rules?"

Hee! Never thought of it that way, but yeah.

My particular situation with that person aside, there are good things about either approach, in different circumstances. Like any other person with a moving-between-classes background, I've got some familiarity with both because I had to. Barb talks really well about how that can work, and about what internalized classism can cost a person, and how much it hurts. So when I resent being pushed into one way of being, it's in part because don't want to be forced to choose one thing over another just because of someone else deciding that their rules are the only rules.

Huh. And I have to go ponder that, because it set off a string of fireworks in my head. Hmm.

...and it's clear I need to get this book.

Because, yeah. A whole big lot of that.

exactly, who died and declared that THEY get to set the rules? (of what is "middle class" and "working poor")

I was raised "middle class" but thanks to this economy, I am just one paycheck away from being homeless. I think that classifies me as "working poor" and having to struggle and save up for any 'toys' (like replacing my laptop)

and yes, it sucks beyond the telling NOT being secure enough to have any sort of emergency funds. thankfully hurricane season is almost over but there's still the car needing new tyres and oil changes and ....

I would be very interested to see what you think of the book.

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