Tuesday, December 16, 2003

I'm going to Michigan today to see Rory and the Lord of the Rings.

So it's unlikely there'll be many blogs 'til Thursday.

Yesterday, though, my dad and I went Christmas Shopping. We went to Millersburg, Amish country that is, to get cheese. The highlight of it all for me was listening in on the Amish kids speaking German to one another. Their dialect is different than what I learned in school, of course, and my German skills suck anyway. But from what I could decipher, listening in on Amish secret conversations isn't as exciting as you might imagine. Or maybe it's every bit as exciting as you might imagine; the Amish aren't exactly ninjas or secret agents or anything.

In short, the kids mainly whinged about their parents. One boy's mother had been screaming at him to clean his room. A girl responded that his room probably wasn't cleanable it was so filthy. The boy laughed and asked her to tell his mother that so he wouldn't have to try.

Anyway, what struck me about the whole trip was gender roles. They're obviously more marked in the Amish community. Boys wear suits; girls wear dresses. Boys have short hair; girls have long. But one thing that I noticed was that, unlike in traditional mainstream society, both boys and girls seem to be expected to work. And not just in ordinary jobs like having boys cleaning barns and girls doing dishes. Both boys and girls operate the little Amish stores. I think the Amish way is actually more traditional. Poor folk have always had to work, gender be damned. It was only the rise of Victorian values which made it so impossible for middle class women to make a living.

Yeah, anyway, five minutes until I'm supposed to be leaving and I've not packed yet. Should really go do that.