Oh, That Controlling Burberry!

OK, I have found an absolute winner. In all the years of my teaching, this is the best ever:

From the XIth century on, most of the Iberian Peninsula was controlled by the Almoravids and the Almohads who were Burberry. These Burberries waged constant warfare against each other and the Iberian Christians.

Tell me this is not the best.

I don’t think I can continue grading after this. I’m afraid of what I might find.

Soviet Women in WWII

Stille left this link to a very weird tumblr on the Soviet post-war customs:

In Soviet Union women participating in WWII were erased from history, remaining as the occasional anecdote of a female sniper or simply as medical staff or, at best, radio specialists. The word “front-line girl” (frontovichka) became a terrible insult, synonimous to “whore”. Hundreds thousand of girls who went to war to protect their homeland with their very lives, who came back injured or disabled, with medals for valor, had to hide it to protect themselves from public scorn.

I saw how many people linked to this bout of weirdness and decided to write about it.

What the tumblr says is completely ridiculous. War veterans of both genders were and still are venerated and celebrated. It has been so drilled into all of us that elderly people with medals are heroes that we see them as nearly mythical creatures. Disrespecting a WWII veteran, either male or female, was and is the greatest taboo. The word frontovichka was and is a word of the highest respect. Nobody concealed having fought in the war because there were all kinds of perks and benefits associated with that status.

The most touching Soviet movies about WWII are those that have to do with female heroism in the war. (Here is one example.) Erased from history? This is just bizarre because it’s the exact opposite of what happened.

I think the tumblr’s author confuses female soldiers with “front-line wives”, women who went to the front-lines to live with married generals and high military command. These women lived in absolute luxury and never saw any military action. Not that anybody persecuted them or “erased” them form anywhere either.

Don’t trust tumblr, folks. It has very weird moments.

This Only Happens to Me

I swear, this stuff only happens to me. 

First, a colleague gave me a huge bag of beautiful maternity clothes.

And now, a postman dragged in an enormous box filled with very expensive new baby stuff somebody sent to me anonymously. All of the most expensive items from my baby registry are there. 

There is no return address, no card. Just a box full of gifts. 

People are very kind. In unexpected ways, too.


My Feminist Journey, Part I

My feminist journey started before I was old enough to remember anything. My father’s mother caught my mother sorting apples into two piles. One pile consisted of beautiful, big, perfect apples and the other contained small, shriveled, spotty ones.

“Why are you sorting them?” my grandmother asked.

“The good ones are for your son and baby Clarissa,” my mother explained. “And I’ll just take this other pile.”

“No,” my grandmother said. “Just no. This is about the worst thing you can do for yourself, my son, and baby Clarissa.”

Then she slid the beautiful pile towards my mother.

“You eat these,” she said. “And let me never hear this self-sacrificial crap from you again. Your biggest duty is to take care of yourself.”

Several days later, the two women were walking down the street when they saw a long line of women queuing in the scorching sun.

“This is the place where they sometimes sell peaches!” my mother exclaimed. “Let’s join the line!”

“Are you suggesting we stand here in the sun just to buy something?” my grandmother asked in an appalled voice.

“Well, it will only be about 2-2,5 hours.”

“No,” my grandmother said. “We will not stand here with all these weird women, baking ourselves in the sun for hours. Instead, we will walk over to the marketplace and in ten minutes have all the peaches we want.”

“But the peaches at the marketplace cost 10 times more!”

“And how much does our health and our comfort cost?” my grandmother retorted. “What did I tell you about sacrificing yourself?”

This was when my fate as a woman who would never consider sacrificing herself was sealed. Unfortunately, the majority of other grandmothers forgot to hold similar conversations with their daughters. The generations of women who came of age in the twenties and the forties, who survived the Civil War, the World War, Stalin, starvation and genocide, who destroyed traditional gender roles and never looked back, forgot to mention to their daughters that strength and resilience had to be accompanied with self-respect.

As a result, they brought up a generation of women who thought that since they were strong, it was only logical for them to sacrifice themselves for their weak and helpless children and men.

[To be continued. . .]

I Have Lived My Life in Vain

Question on the final exam:

Today, Latin American countries suffer from high degrees of poverty, instability, violence, and racism. Draw on the knowledge of history you have gained from this course and on the readings we have done to discuss the reasons behind this.


The problem with Latin American countries is that instead of working hard and improving their lives they just sit there feeling like victims and blaming everybody else for their problems. They just need to get themselves together and stop being violent and racist to each other.