steepholm: (tree_face)
[personal profile] steepholm
I don't know whether my move to Cardiff was a catalyst, but my mother's Welshness (very much sotto voce during my childhood) has found increasingly resonant voice recently. The other day she surprised me by singing the Welsh national anthem (in Welsh) - perfectly, as far as I was able to judge. I'd never heard her do that at any time in the previous half century.

Perhaps it's only natural that she thinks about her childhood, and wants to pass on what she can of it. A couple of days ago she said, apropos of nothing, "Whenever my father served Fray Bentos corned beef from a tin, he would always say, 'Have a slice of Harriet Lane.'" Apparently Harriet Lane had been a murder victim, and referring to tinned meat in this way was a piece of naval slang my grandfather had picked up in the navy at the start of the twentieth century.

"But hang on," said I. "I heard exactly the same story about Fanny Adams. Can they both have been dismembered murder victims whose remains were made the basis of a grim joke about navy rations? It doesn't seem very likely."

However, it turns out to be true. Seven years after young Fanny Adams was butchered in a Hampshire field in 1867, Harriet Lane was murdered and cut into "manageable pieces" by her lover (and father of her children) in Mile End. I don't know whether Harriet and Fanny's names coexisted in the Navy, perhaps in different services (my grandfather was in the merchant navy before WWI), or whether it was a case of Fanny's being supplanted by a later victim. It's odd, though, in a grisly way.


Later the same evening she asked, "What's all this about Germaine Greer? I watched her on Newsnight last night and she looked quite mad."

I explained about Greer's history in this regard, and for my mother's education and amusement read her this choice quotation from The Whole Woman, which shows Greer at the aphelion of her eccentric orbit of rationality:

"There is a witness to the transsexual's script, a witness who is never consulted. She is the person who built the transsexual's body of her own flesh and brought it up as her son or daughter, the transsexual's worst enemy, his/her mother. Whatever else it is gender reassignment is an exorcism of the mother. When a man decides to spend his life impersonating his mother (like Norman Bates in Psycho) it is as if he murders her and gets away with it, proving at a stroke that there was nothing to her."


"What a dumbass!" said my mother. (Actually, that wasn't the word she used, but I'm translating it into American for reasons of decency.) She laughed like a crone, and I like a crone-in-training. And of course the situation does have its absurd aspect, especially when you see someone like that invited to give a distinguished lecture on 'Women and Power' at one's own university - an institution that boasts of itself as a safe and welcoming place for LGBT+ staff and students that will "in no way condone discriminatory comments of any kind”.

And then you read about Tara Hudson, the 26-year old transgender woman who has just been sent to an all-male prison less than a mile from my house. And you remember that Greer's "You're really a man" poison has real effects on real, vulnerable people.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-10-27 12:16 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] cmcmck.livejournal.com
Considerable discussion on the Greer business over on mine.

While I won't sign a petition to silence anyone, just wtf does your employer think it is doing?

You okay?

(no subject)

Date: 2015-10-27 12:26 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] steepholm.livejournal.com
LJ ate my reply - but the short answer is I'm fine so far, thanks! I certainly think she should never have been invited, but I'm not calling for the invitation to be withdrawn since (as we know) that is so easy to derail into a moral panic about "silencing". ("The Silenced Maid" lives again.) I've suggested that the SU might organize an alternative event, though, and offered to speak at that if they'd like.
Edited Date: 2015-10-27 12:26 pm (UTC)

(no subject)

Date: 2015-10-27 12:32 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] cmcmck.livejournal.com
LJ's been doing that of late! :oS

Aye- the best approach is to let her turn up and hope that no one attends!

(no subject)

Date: 2015-10-27 12:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] cmcmck.livejournal.com
Btw, what the hell is going on with the Tara Hudson business? There are supposed to be legal protections in place to prevent this sort of thing. She doesn't possess a GR Cert but that is not supposed to matter!

(no subject)

Date: 2015-10-27 01:03 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] steepholm.livejournal.com
I don't know! It's appalling.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-10-27 05:41 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kalimac.livejournal.com
On top of everything else, is it customary to sentence people to prison in the UK for assaulting someone in a bar? That seems excessive, even for the prison-mad US [if it involved drugs, we'd lock 'em up], and I wonder if Hudson's T status was a strike against her in that regard, rather as being Black would be here.

I hadn't heard of that Harriet Lane. I know of another by that name, the niece and official hostess for the unmarried James Buchanan, US ambassador to the UK during much of the Crimean War, and then most unfortunately President of the United States at a delicate moment. After James died, Harriet built him a pyramid. Really.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-10-27 07:29 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] steepholm.livejournal.com
I just don't know, in answer to your question. Ironically, I'm told that women (though forming a very small percentage of the prison population) are more likely to receive custodial sentences than men for comparable offences, presumably because it's more "shocking" in them. In the light of that, it may be that Hudson had the worst of both worlds.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-10-27 06:00 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nineweaving.livejournal.com
She laughed like a crone, and I like a crone-in-training.

Fabulous!

Yes, Germaine Greer--of all the unfortunate people to have as a namesake--deserves your mother's epithet. I hope your alternative event draws a larger and livelier crowd (and notice!) than her talk.

Nine

(no subject)

Date: 2015-10-27 07:25 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] steepholm.livejournal.com
But you're the only germane Greer I know.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-10-27 06:13 pm (UTC)
sovay: (Sovay: David Owen)
From: [personal profile] sovay
When a man decides to spend his life impersonating his mother (like Norman Bates in Psycho) it is as if he murders her and gets away with it

What the fuck.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-10-27 07:47 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] steepholm.livejournal.com
Well, quite.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-10-27 09:25 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sartorias.livejournal.com
Oh, that's a heartbreak about poor Tara Hudson.

But I love the image of you and your mom laughing like crones.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-10-28 09:48 am (UTC)
ext_14294: A redhead an a couple of cats. (blodeuwedd ginny)
From: [identity profile] ashkitty.livejournal.com
I've read that Greer quote four times now and I still don't get it. Not only am I quite unclear on how an adult having gender reassignment somehow negates the fact of their birth, but even in a symbolic sense, I think of an old friend whose mother symbolically re-named her when she started her transition.

The Tara Hudson thing is upsetting. She's going to be in a good deal of danger, and all because she was in a bar fight. Appalling.I get that there are procedures for a reason, but even the most disinterested jobsworth should be able to figure that one out.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-10-28 11:26 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] steepholm.livejournal.com
Unfortunately the Ministry of Justice has refused to intervene. So far.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-10-28 12:29 pm (UTC)
ext_14294: A redhead an a couple of cats. (Default)
From: [identity profile] ashkitty.livejournal.com
Yeah, I saw the update on your FB. Awful.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-10-30 07:41 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ron-broxted.livejournal.com
Developments in the Hudson affair. As for Greer and TERFs I am trying to get Bug Brennan fired.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-10-30 07:48 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] steepholm.livejournal.com
Yes, I gather that as of this afternoon she's been moved to women's prison, thank goodness. (I mean Hudson, of course!)

(no subject)

Date: 2015-10-31 12:08 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ron-broxted.livejournal.com
Working on getting Brennan jailed. As for Hudson, quite a lot of muttering of "Poor Bitch" over here.

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