The few, the proud... and me

You know how sometimes things bug you, and you just sort of let them, and then suddenly somehow it triggers something from your past? That happened to me as I was drifting off for my nap...

Growing up in SmallVillage, the schools went K-6, 7-9 and 10-12. That meant that when you were in 9th grade, traditionally lowest on the teen totem pole, you were actually King of the School. No, it doesn't quite make sense to me either but that's what Junior High is filled with, things that don't quite make sense. 9th grade is also when many (most?) girls are blossoming into women and boys are devolving into something not quite man-like.

One day, a group of girls I knew somewhat well and who, like me, were rather well endowed by their Creator, came to school wearing t-shirts that said IBTC. I think there was a book (possibly by Judy Blume) that included that acronym, but it certainly wasn't information that the boys would have had. I asked one of the girls why and she said that I certainly could join the IBTC... I declined the invitation. Their reason was that they were reclaiming the word or disempowering the boys or something like that, which seemed like an ok reason but it also made me feel like Groucho Marx. At that time in my life there were more than enough ways to label me and while one more wasn't going to hurt, it seemed that there wasn't a point to it (or, as my mother once said, there wasn't any two points to it).


So I find myself in a similar place. There's another group of self-selected "in" people reclaiming words and empowering themselves and blah blah blah. Again I could join. And again, I declined. I've written about my reasons elsewhere and they still stand: with or without the official title/t-shirt/tiara, I already know what tribes I'm a part of and that's enough for me.

As I drifted off to sleep I thought of the IBTC and how it could have really been powerful if the original five had brought in 200 or so t-shirts, one for every girl in the grade. That I could have bought into. And how powerful it could be if this new group did the same.

Until everyone is gets the t-shirt, you can keep mine.


Wendy said...

In group-out group signals drive me nuts as well. Is there anything worse than finding out there was a party (even if it's mommy-oriented, and you're not a parent) to which you weren't invited? But it takes an especially broad character to realize that others were being excluded and refuse your own inclusion on their behalf.

I have made an especial effort over the past two years to include the new faculty on work days when we have time to go out to lunch, or even sit with them at staff meetings at my school. Because we have a rather high faculty turnover (with about 20% not returning, for whatever reason, from year-to-year), some long-time teachers are very open about "not even talking" to teachers (or worse, not even "learning their names") until they get tenture. I am all for inclusion -- perhaps that would, in fact, minimize our turnover from its currently ridiculous rate.

Unknown said...

The sense I get from this is that it's not reclaiming the word, it's more of a possessory issue. Maybe they're taking the IBTC comments away from its original norm, but they could be possessing it in an even more exclusive - and, of course, restrictive - manner. Besides, why would anybody want to wear a T-shirt with the acronym "I Bought Three Cupcakes?" :)