Frogs fall out of my mouth when I talk. Toads, too.
It used to be a problem.
There was an incident when I was young and cross and fed up parental expectations. My sister, who is the Good One, has gold fall from her lips, and since I could not be her, I had to go a different way.
So I got frogs. It happens.
“You’ll grow into it,” the fairy godmother said. “Some curses have cloth-of-gold linings.” She considered this, and her finger drifted to her lower lip, the way it did when she was forgetting things. “Mind you, some curses just grind you down and leave you broken. Some blessings do that too, though. Hmm. What was I saying?”
I spent a lot of time not talking. I got a slate and wrote things down. It was hard at first, but I hated to drop the frogs in the middle of the road. They got hit by cars, or dried out, miles away from their damp little homes.
Toads were easier. Toads are tough. After awhile, I learned to feel when a word was a toad and not a frog. I could roll the word around on my tongue and get the flavor before I spoke it. Toad words were drier. Desiccated is a toad word. So is crisp and crisis and obligation. So are elegant and matchstick.
Frog words were a bit more varied. Murky. Purple. Swinging. Jazz.
I practiced in the field behind the house, speaking words over and over, sending small creatures hopping into the evening. I learned to speak some words as either toads or frogs. It’s all in the delivery.
Love is a frog word, if spoken earnestly, and a toad word if spoken sarcastically. Frogs are not good at sarcasm.
Toads are masters of it.
I learned one day that the amphibians are going extinct all over the world, that some of them are vanishing. You go to ponds that should be full of frogs and find them silent. There are a hundred things responsible—fungus and pesticides and acid rain.
When I heard this, I cried “What!?” so loudly that an adult African bullfrog fell from my lips and I had to catch it. It weighed as much as a small cat. I took it to the pet store and spun them a lie in writing about my cousin going off to college and leaving the frog behind.
I brooded about frogs for weeks after that, and then eventually, I decided to do something about it.
I cannot fix the things that kill them. It would take an army of fairy godmothers, and mine retired long ago. Now she goes on long cruises and spreads her wings out across the deck chairs.
But I can make more.
I had to get a field guide at first. It was a long process. Say a word and catch it, check the field marks. Most words turn to bronze frogs if I am not paying attention.
Poison arrow frogs make my lips go numb. I can only do a few of those a day. I go through a lot of chapstick.
It is a holding action I am fighting, nothing more. I go to vernal pools and whisper sonnets that turn into wood frogs. I say the words squeak and squill and spring peepers skitter away into the trees. They begin singing almost the moment they emerge.
I read long legal documents to a growing audience of Fowler’s toads, who blink their goggling eyes up at me. (I wish I could do salamanders. I would read Clive Barker novels aloud and seed the streams with efts and hellbenders. I would fly to Mexico and read love poems in another language to restore the axolotl. Alas, it’s frogs and toads and nothing more. We make do.)
The woods behind my house are full of singing. The neighbors either learn to love it or move away.
My sister—the one who speaks gold and diamonds—funds my travels. She speaks less than I do, but for me and my amphibian friends, she will vomit rubies and sapphires. I am grateful.
I am practicing reading modernist revolutionary poetry aloud. My accent is atrocious. Still, a day will come when the Panamanian golden frog will tumble from my lips, and I will catch it and hold it, and whatever word I spoke, I’ll say again and again, until I stand at the center of a sea of yellow skins, and make from my curse at last a cloth of gold.
Terri Windling posted recently about the old fairy tale of frogs falling from a girl’s lips, and I started thinking about what I’d do if that happened to me, and…well…
You know how if you go through years and years of “best science fiction short stories”, every so often you find some short story you’ve never heard of before, but it’s just amazing and brilliant and leaves you wondering why you never read stories with that plot before? This is one of those.
this made me smile.
i’m still smiling.
A guy at a princess store in Disneyland was asking me if I related to Merida in any way and I was like
“I don’t know man. I’m more of an Elinor.”
And he busted out laughing.
What I love most about this movie is that shows that being a princess is not wearing a beautiful dress, marrying a prince and live happily ever after, but a job, a hard job with duties and responsibilities were a lot of people depend on you
being the Lady of a medieval estate was SUCH AN IMPORTANT FUCKING JOB AND SO FUCKING FULL OF HARD WORK WHICH MEDIEVAL MEN ACKNOWLEDGED TBH
(one problem with perception of medieval gender roles is that most of the people who were writing, especially those who were writing HISTORY, were CLERGYMEN who had never been married and lived in a weird situation cut off from the way the rest of the world worked and had like no actual life experience with the real world - and then popular culture’s idea of it has been heavily informed by VICTORIAN choices of who and what to translate and popularize)
upper class medieval women were expected to run and manage the entire estate that they got from their husband (or that they already had in their own right through inheritance or as their marriage portion), a job which was acknowledged as being way difficult and requiring a wife with strength and fortitude and business sense if you wanted to be a successful person
they were the HR managers of households that might have over a hundred people in, and tho a duchess or a queen would certainly not go to the store to do the household shopping, and she probably had a steward to assist her, it was ultimately her responsibility to know what things were needed for that household, to make sure that the appropriate people obtained those things, to oversee the use of the household materials, to make sure that EVERYTHING got done so that ALL those people could live and work smoothly. they wrote letters and managed the business of the estate and networked with other members of the nobility for both important game-of-thrones political reasons and for smaller more personal reasons like ‘that guy has a really nice deer chase, so if i send him some marmalade from our garden, he might send some venison back as a return gift”
even in lower class households mom managed everything and women were basically considered to be shrewder and have better heads for that particularly kind of business than men and choosing a wise wife was the best thing you could do for yourself as a man who intended to be successful
they were like hands-on CEOs and shit yo and don’t get me wrong society was sexist as fuck and they were limited as hell in what they could do and everything was classist beyond belief but no way was being a noblewoman just a matter of sitting up a tower looking pretty & the contributions that they made are so important
also, the ladies of castles were responsible for defense when their husband was away at war (which happened a lot), so while personally participating in battle was unusual (though not entirely unheard-of) they did often find themselves in strategic command. and in wartime they frequently functioned as a sort of de facto logistics officer.
oh, and has anyone mentioned diplomacy. because an arranged marriage is only the START of a princess’s diplomatic career. the alliance she forges with her marriage is one she’s responsible for maintaining her entire life. unless she decides to go ahead and take over the country; that’s been an option too from time to time. :D
suddenly i really want to see a disney movie about a princess AFTER the wedding — forging a political bond with her new husband, defending the castle, sending troops and supplies to make sure he comes home from the war, reading secret reports from her spies in the enemy’s court… *swoon*
And I’ve tried to touch on this with Merida, because ALL OF THIS? THIS is why Merida has absolutely ZERO desire to get married or (eventually) become Queen. Because it means her life - every second of her free time - going down the drain as she becomes more and more tangled up in running the castle AND the kingdom.
(This is also why Elinor’s such a freaking BAMF, she’s got this shit down, man.)
Some of you guys may know what’s been going on with MaKayla and I, and some of you may not. The short version is, after moving across country from Florida to Missouri for support with her pregnancy- but the living situation we are in is no longer an option and is a very stress-heavy environment. As we haven’t been in our jobs for long enough to accrue savings, it left us with virtually no funds to move with, and medical bills are slowly stacking up for MaKayla and our son.
I know not everyone has much, if any, to give- but even just a share, reblog, or a kind word could help so much. It was pretty hard to ask for help like this- but after encouragement from friends, I took the chance and did it.
Thanks, all of you beautiful people.
When you discuss the wage gap, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Only white women make $0.77 to a man’s dollar.
- Black women make about $0.68 to a man’s dollar.
- Latina women make about $0.58 to a man’s dollar.
I will keep reblogging this to point out that disabled people, including men, make 22 cents on the dollar. Mostly because it is legal to pay us below minimum wage, but whatevs.
Female figurine from the Hohle Fels cave near Stuttgart, about 35,000 years old. Interpreted as a pornographic pin-up.
“The Earliest Pornography” says Science Now, describing the 35,000 year old ivory figurine that’s been dug up in a cave near Stuttgart. The tiny statuette is of a female with exaggerated breasts and vulva. According to Paul Mellars, one of the archaeologist twits who commented on the find for Nature, this makes the figurine “pornographic.” Nature is even titling its article, “Prehistoric Pin Up.” It’s the Venus of Willendorf double standard all over again. Ancient figures of naked pregnant women are interpreted by smirking male archaeologists as pornography, while equally sexualized images of men are assumed to depict gods or shamans. Or even hunters or warriors. Funny, huh?
Consider: phallic images from the Paleolithic are at least 28,000 years old. Neolithic cultures all over the world seemed to have a thing for sculptures with enormous erect phalluses. Ancient civilizations were awash in images of male genitalia, from the Indian lingam to the Egyptian benben to the Greek herm. The Romans even painted phalluses on their doors and wore phallic charms around their necks.
But nobody ever interprets this ancient phallic imagery as pornography. Instead, it’s understood to indicate reverence for male sexual potency. No one, for example, has ever suggested that the Lascaux cave dude was a pin-up; he’s assumed to be a shaman. The ithyphallic figurines from the Neolithic — and there are many — are interpreted as gods. And everyone knows that the phalluses of ancient India and Egypt and Greece and Rome represented awesome divine powers of fertility and protection. Yet an ancient figurine of a nude woman — a life-giving woman, with her vulva ready to bring forth a new human being, and her milk-filled breasts ready to nourish that being — is interpreted as pornography. Just something for a man to whack off to. It’s not as if there’s no other context in which to interpret the figure. After all, the European Paleolithic is chock full of pregnant-looking female statuettes that are quite similar to this one. By the time we get to the Neolithic, the naked pregnant female is enthroned with lions at her feet, and it’s clear that people are worshipping some kind of female god.
Yet in the Science Now article, the archaeologist who found the figurine is talking about pornographic pin-ups: “I showed it to a male colleague, and his response was, ‘Nothing’s changed in 40,000 years.’” That sentence needs to be bronzed and hung up on a plaque somewhere, because you couldn’t ask for a better demonstration of the classic fallacy of reading the present into the past. The archaeologist assumes the artist who created the figurine was male; why? He assumes the motive was lust; why? Because that’s all he knows. To his mind, the image of a naked woman with big breasts and exposed vulva can only mean one thing: porn! Porn made by men, for men! And so he assumes, without questioning his assumptions, that the image must have meant the same thing 35,000 years ago. No other mental categories for “naked woman” are available to him. His mind is a closed box. This has been the central flaw of anthropology for as long there’s been anthropology. And even before: the English invaders of North America thought the Iroquois chiefs had concubines who accompanied them everywhere, because they had no other mental categories to account for well-dressed, important-looking women sitting in a council house. It’s the same fallacy that bedevils archaeologists who dig up male skeletons with fancy beads and conclude that the society was male dominant (because powerful people wear jewelry!), and at another site dig up female skeletons with fancy beads and conclude that this society, too, was male dominant (because women have to dress up as sex objects and trophy wives!). Male dominance is all they can imagine. And so no matter what they dig up, they interpret it to fit their mental model. It’s the fallacy that also drives evolutionary psychology, the central premise of which is that human beings in the African Pleistocene had exactly the same values, beliefs, prejudices, power struggles, goals, and needs as the middle-class white professors and students in a graduate psychology lab in modern-day Santa Barbara, California. And that these same factors are universal and unchanged and true for all time.
That’s not science; it’s circular, self-serving propaganda. This little figurine from Hohle Fels, for example, is going to be used as “proof” that pornography is ancient and natural. I guarantee it. Having been interpreted by pornsick male archaeologists as pornography because that’s all they know, the statuette will now be trotted out by every ev psycho and male supremacist on the planet as “proof” that pornography is eternal, that male dominance is how it’s supposed to be, and that feminists are crazy so shut the fuck up. Look for it in Steven Pinker’s next book. ***
P.S. My own completely speculative guess on the figurine is that it might be connected to childbirth rituals. Notice the engraved marks and slashes; that’s a motif that continues for thousands of years on these little female figurines. No one knows what they mean, but they meant something. They’re not just random cut marks. Someone put a great deal of work into this sculpture. Given that childbirth was incredibly risky for Paleolithic women, they must have prayed their hearts out for help and protection in that time. I can imagine an elder female shaman or artist carving this potent little figure, and propping it up somewhere as a focus for those prayers.
On the other hand, it is possible that it has nothing to do with childbearing or sexual behavior at all. The breasts and vulva may simply indicate who the figure is: the female god. Think of how Christ is always depicted with a beard, which is a male sexual characteristic, even though Christ isn’t about male sexuality. The beard is just a marker. Or, given the figurine’s exaggerated breasts, it may have something to do with sustenance: milk, food, nourishment.
The notion that some dude carved this thing to whack off to — when he was surrounded by women who probably weren’t wearing much in the way of clothes anyway — is laughable.#reclusiveleftist #women’s history #porn #white men are stupid
Good lord I am so glad I took ancient art from a female professor.
"When I was a kid, I believed you would become a mermaid when you went in the water to swim".
I really loved the little mermaid as a kid growing up so I had the warped perception you became a mermaid when you entered the water ahaha. This is me learning to swim with my cousin! This piece is for a gallery show at work.