gall and gumption

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Small and Select

Go read chuckling's post about not being a big blogger.

A nod from some bloggy quarters can send great waves of traffic to your site. As is to be expected, Atrios, who is sort of King Log in that respect, gets complaints that he isn't helping people by putting them on his (recently purged) blogroll. Apparently in response to some complaints, he wrote a list of suggestions under the heading "Why Your Blog Sucks.

Chuckling looks the advice over point by point:

Atrios gives some valuable advice, at least in a what-not-to-do kinda way, on how to be a popular blogger. This may surprise you, but poor chuckling has studied the question extensively. Before you die in a fit of laughter, or more likely shake your head sadly at the pathetic vanity of yet another blogging nobody, let me hasten to add that after studying how to become a popular blogger, I decided not to....

Every once in a while I realize with a shock how small my readership is. I check my site meter -- well, obsessively would be barely overstating it. It tells me how long visitors stayed, their geographic location, and how they got to my blog. These are the three things that interest me, though I do keep an eye on the number of visits too.

The best thing is the referrals. It amuses me that people come here looking for information about prostitutes in St. Kitts (the Cricket World Cup apparently has people thinking about other forms of entertainment), Desmond Dekker lyrics, and boob jobs. My apologies to them.

I'm sure if I wrote about politics I'd attract more eyeballs. But the people who do it well do it almost full time, which I can't. And for another thing I am skeptical of most political solutions to cultural problems and questions -- or rather, approaches to culture that frame it exclusively in terms of politics. People are nuts, really. I think there are cultural solutions to political problems though, over the long term, and by that I don't mean having positive stereotypes of, say, gay people as opposed to negative ones. I mean, sure, have positive stereotypes of everybody, nobody should be insulted or demeaned, but that is not where the interesting action is. The interesting action is when you realize that when you are looking at art, art is looking back at you -- and it has met you before. That's what interests me. It's pretty huge when you see that, bigger than politics, actually.

Gallimaufry, a small but nifty little Caribbean blog, for example, points me to this article about a subject that attracts seekers here, the "dry humping" style of Caribbean dancing.

Masquerading in non-carnival settings takes various forms: from women dressing the part of the courtesan of old, to the sultry, sexually experienced, aggressive woman who defies society, to the woman who is completely in control of her own body and expresses it to every beat of the music. We see her [*pg 196] in the club, winding suggestively to calypso or reggae beat,89 overpowering her male partner with the thrust of her hips, becoming the pursuer. In sharp contrast to her domestic or professional identity, she becomes the sexual aggressor, through her explicit grinding and purposefully explicit sexual dancing, with and without a partner. In addition, she often uses the movements of her body to exert control over her male partner.90 For example, she might use speedy and strong hip movement to throw her male partner off balance. Consequently, we often see an inversion of the mating dance where the man becomes the hunted and the woman the powerful huntress.

The male partner in the above scenario is overwhelmed by this contrary form of expression and does not truly understand the source of it, categorizing it as odd, licentious and problematic, even while fully participating in it. This adoption of traditionally masculine roles by women in these settings, of course, begs the question of whether this behavior ultimately benefits women or whether it simply duplicates the patriarchal system, thus, strengthening a system already oppressive to women. While it is certain that some women are simply mirroring a pattern of behavior learned from patriarchy, other women are attempting to carve out an identity that is in direct opposition to traditional Caribbean gender roles.

Oh dear. Where to begin. My hat is off to anybody who can separate out the women who are "mirroring a pattern of behavior learned from patriarchy" from those who are "attempting to carve out an identity that is in indirect opposition to traditional Caribbean gender roles" in the middle of a crowd of eleventy-fourteen thousand drunk people packed shoulder to shoulder and bumping and grinding their way down the street to ear-shattering soca music. "Oh look, that one over there in the red hot pants and the orange fright wig with green polka dots on her face, who looks like she's trying to mate with a pickup truck, she's definitely patterning behavior learned from patriarchy!" "But the one in the metallic gold thong who is rubbing up against the guy wearing the Carib Beer T-shirt, she's definitely carving out an identity..." "Well, the woman up on top of the band truck, the one where all you can see is her ass, jiggling violently, what about her?" "Hold on, let me check the manual."

And in the end what do you have? Things that you approve of and things you don't approve of. It's the old question again, "Is there sin in it?" or "Does it advance the cause of the Glorious Revolution or is it Counterrevolutionary?"

I've seen people dance like this in nightclubs and in carnivals and at concerts. I have done it myself, I couldn't help it. It is HELL OF FUN to watch and to do, because instead of sort of shuffling and bopping about you do this with the greatest gusto. This kind of dancing is in many respects just like any other kind of dancing. People do it because everybody does it now and a lot of peopleonly dance the way everybody dances now, the way they only listen to music that everybody listens to now and everything else is Oldies. Some do it because it is so funny and daring. Some do it because it's a stage in an ongoing process of flirting and seduction with their dance partner. Some do it because they are showoffs. And lots do it because like all the carnival arts it is a competitive activity. There are prizes to be won, recognition to be gained.

So it's about at the point where this sort of critic loses interest in the arts that I get interested. And ooh, don't get me started on how profoundly trivial I think that sort of criticism is. You know, this post was supposed to go somewhere but instead it's me that has to go. Go visit chuckling. Catch you later.


At 10:02 PM, Blogger Keifus said...

Dunno, your usually quality comments to Edroso's blog speak awfully well of you. And skimming anyway, your content-to-quoted ratio seems sufficiently high. Hopefully I'll remmeber to come back when I'm sober and do more than skim. Dubious guarantee that may be....


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