[Callers] Politically Correct?

Ron Blechner contraron at gmail.com
Tue Mar 27 22:33:50 PDT 2018

I want to echo the words of Alex D-L and Dave Casserly.

I'm also appalled at the casual use of the n-word on this thread without
anyone whatsoever calling it out. This is really giving me pause. :(

Contra's attendance is dwindling - I hear it from every organizer I talk
to, with a couple exceptions. I also hear about the desire to "get the
young people to dance". Hmmm.

Ron Blechner

On Tue, Mar 27, 2018, 11:39 AM Dave Casserly via Callers <
callers at lists.sharedweight.net> wrote:

> Rich,
> I don't think your situation here is exactly what Colin describes-- you're
> not worried about any of the particular words, as many of us are regarding
> the word "gypsy," for instance.  The question here is whether the phrase
> has an offensive *meaning* of "women are things," and if so, is that a
> good reason not to use it.  Personally, I'd probably alter it or do a
> different singing square.  I don't subscribe to the extreme position that
> you should never sing lyrics to a folk song unless you agree with those
> lyrics; that would make singing folk songs very difficult to do at all.
> That said, there are some times where the meanings of lyrics are offensive
> enough, without any redeeming qualities, that I leave a verse out or alter
> a few words in the singing sessions that I lead.  There is nothing
> sacrosanct about a particular set of lyrics to a folk song; people have
> been changing them for whatever reason for generations, and will continue
> to do so.  If future singers don't like my revisions, they can sing a
> different version, just like I sometimes prefer to ignore Victorian-era
> revisions to bawdier songs.
> Here, I'd lean toward not using the lyrics for three reasons: 1) they
> imply that women are objects; 2) there's nothing redeeming or valuable
> about them, as they're the only things sung, with no context; and 3)
> similarly, they don't represent the meaning of the song, and when repeated
> on their own, sort of pervert that meaning (at least going by the lyrics
> Yoyo posted).
> I also think there are good reasons to err on the side of inclusive
> language, particularly in our community.  Contra dancing is overwhelmingly
> white, and for a long time, contra dance calling was dominated by men.  The
> loudest voices on this forum are those of older white men.  Contra dancers
> and particularly organizers are disproportionately white baby boomers.
> We're seeing the effects of that now; dance attendance has been dwindling
> as older dancers stop attending and aren't replaced by younger dancers.  If
> we want our dance form to continue to thrive, when there's a question on
> which there's a generational divide (as you, in my view correctly, note
> here), I would err toward using the language less likely to turn off our
> younger generations, which are also our most diverse generations.  This
> isn't an issue where changing the lyrics is going to bother people-- very
> few would know the original lyrics well enough to notice-- and certainly
> nobody would know if you selected a different singing square instead.
> -Dave
> --
> David Casserly
> (cell) 781 258-2761
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