Should not change the word history
To the likes of herstory or ourstory –
That – would be a grave inaccuracy!
In those times back then –
Historians were –
For the most part –
07.10.95 – 07.12.95
Copyright by Minh Tan on listed dated of completion
and published in Perspectives, ISBN 0-9686250-0-2.
Notes to this poem…
I don’t know the history of the attempt to correct the word history to herstory, but it’s no surprise if it came out of the feminist movement as was suggested by the WIkipedia link provided. It also long preceded my poem in 1995, originating supposedly from the 1960s. However, somewhere along the way in 1995, I ran into some passion for using herstory, or perhaps ourstory to be fair, in a political correctness movement rather than a feminist movement that was no less discriminating than the original male dominance in the language. Punching back to counter a punch only makes you more similar to your enemy.
Anyway, as I contemplated this political correctness applied to herstory or ourstory, it occurred to me that it would not be accurate to call the texts of our past that, because we, as a society then (or now), did not write our history. It tended to be some privileged men whose text were kept, and that it was, for the overwhelming part, men who wrote it. That was the basis of this poem, as hopefully the text illustrated clearly enough without me having to explain.
Political correctness has its place here and there, but slightly more often than not, I don’t see a lot of value in it. I’m one who believes actions speak louder than words, but also that words will follow the actions. That is, if enough women wrote our history, or enough of us wrote our history, we will eventually come to call it herstory or ourstory. Having the benefit of almost 13 years to reflect on this poem now with a blog on-line, appropriately enough, we are all indeed contributing to the general media with our blogs, YouTube postings, picture postings, and what have you. Women are also slowly taking over the wordy professions, from law to public administration to media coverage. We are truly starting to contribute to history in a way that is making herstory and ourstory, but we are only starting to touch it because it still comes down to official versions when people reference things later, and that is still history in a lot of ways. It just has increasing conflict with herstory’s and outstory’s version of every event, not necessarily as in opposing facts, but conflicting, additional and/or missing facts, as well as all the different points of views for debate.
I do believe one day, history will become ourstory, far more than herstory. I just don’t believe it will be that soon and that there’s a long fight ahead those promoting political correctness should spend their energy fighting rather than just for the use of the alternative words to history.
The O-series of poems are one stanza poems composed before I got onto writing haiku and tanka, and short poetry while in action or traveling by select means like plane or ferry. These poems are 3-9 lines long with at least one rhyming couplet, and not of the short forms just mentioned. For the sake of elegance, I just called the collection One.