30 January 12

Native Daughter

I spent the weekend with my Farm Club friends in San Francisco. We stayed at the home of the Native Daughters of the American West, a house on Fulton and Baker you’d almost miss if you didn’t notice the modest plaque and the flags five floors above the street (US and California).

I have mixed feelings about these organizations. On one hand they’re harmless groups of people doing good works like the Shriners and Rotary, involving arcane and zany initiation rites. On the other they are exclusive by gender, race, birth, status, and no doubt other secret criteria.

Fun: We knit and spun and wove in our jammies in a Julia Morgan parlor and ate buttermilk lemon pie for breakfast (I was skeptical, but am a convert). We shared the floors with the Girl Scouts of America scrapbooking club. We explored the basement and the roof, the rooms decorated by individual chapters (also called Parlors, up and down California). We looked at the museum (tiny boots for six-month-olds, fans for grand San Francisco or Pasadena ladies in improbably sized corsets). We looked in the archive room where lists of all pioneer families who made it to California (and some that didn’t) are listed.

We wandered around the neighborhood stumbling across a silkscreening workshop-in-progress (they also offer cheesemaking classes), two excellent restaurants, and not a single Starbucks.

I was born in California, so I technically qualify to join the NDAW. It provides a very cheap way to stay in San Francisco. But San Francisco is easily close enough for a day trip for us and I can’t handle the politics. I am technically qualified to join the Mayflower Society, the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Colonial Dames, and the United Empire Loyalists for the Tories among you. I don’t sound like I belong in any of them, but my accent would be seen by all of them as a plus, as opposed to my skin color or last name which can so easily be a minus, a fact which writes them off for me. I left all this behind when I left the UK, I thought, 23 years ago. But no. Exclusion comes in many forms and I am not an excluder.

Posted by at 07:32 AM in Miscellaneous | Link |
  1. Thank you for writing this, Pica. The main reason I’ve been so critical of much of the online feminist dogma is that very sense of exclusion that you speak of here. I have always supported women getting their share in society and helping them when they are discriminated against or abused, but the moment >any< groups start singling out other groups and ridiculing them or bashing them, or simply excluding them, I have to voice my opposition. I don’t care if it makes me unpopular with those groups, or makes women (or blacks or whites…) angry with me. Discrimination is discrimination.

    When I first went to the States to attend the University of Oregon, I joined the university’s “Asian-American Union”. The members would sit around constantly criticizing whites and make it a rule that whites could not join in the meetings or discussions. When I told them I was also white and black, they insisted that those parts of me were unimportant (though voiced sympathy for my black side), that I should only concentrate on the Asian side of myself. I told them they could go to hell, and left the group.

    Yes, there are big issues that women and other minorities need dealing with, but not at the exclusion of and unwillingness to listen to others.

    Miguel Arboleda    30. January 2012, 17:41    Link

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