So, what do we do? Do we “hold our nose and bear it?” Do we dismiss the elementary school child from the class, leaving her to learn her reading, writing and arithmetic at home? Do we move upwind, if such a thing as upwind exists in a classroom? Do we confront the student? The grandmother? I’ve a better solution. We grip it. We wallow in it.
While living in San Francisco in the 1990s, the printing company for which I worked produced a book titled smell this. Produced by Women of Color in Coalition at the Center for Racial Education in Berkeley, smell this attempted to build a sisterhood for disenfranchised women. The editor offered up musings on her own scent as an apologia for the natural scents of some women, especially women of color. Embracing natural scents can be empowering… even if those scents are overpowering.
That’s awesome. The naturalistic fallacy meets identity politics. I wonder if anyone has claimed asparagus piss and rancid farts as equally natural and integral aspects of cultural self-determination. I’d love to see that topic explored in cultural-theory jargon.
I was at a library sale over the weekend, browsing the anthropology section, when my eyes suddenly crossed and began watering. I swear, it was like a bully had pinned me down and proceeded to pummel my poor nose with fists made of garlic bulbs. Squinting through my blurred, teary vision, I turned and saw a hippie academic straight out of Central Casting, complete with professor’s ponytail (bald on top, long grey fringe tied back), serape and hiking boots. Well, I suppose soap, hot water and mouthwash would have been oppressive tools of colonialism or something. Oh, my kingdom for a fire hose!