Yeah you right. I always get the question as an historian, “When would you live if you could live during any historical period,” and my response is always, ”Not one single second before this very one RIGHT NOW.” Then, I get to lecturing because I feel pretty strongly that this is a ridiculous question that comes from an ahistorical romanticization of the past. Shit was wack back then (no matter when “then” was). Yes, even more than now! Please, believe me. I am a trained historian, and from my years and years of hardcore historianing, I know one thing to be an incontrovertable fact: History is depressing as fuck.
Progress is real. I think people who romanticize the past just assume they’d be the ones who weren’t the underclass when the fact is that they almost surely would be, statistically. Mostly, this question is bullshit because everyone got shit on in the past except rich, white men. And there were very few of these, indeed. As for the rest:
Women—there goes half of the population, you ain’t getting liberated til the seventies, and then it’s a HUGE fight and you statistically wouldn’t be active in it. Plus: BIRTH CONTROL AND TAMPONS, you dumb dummies! Not to mention schmaschmortion. (Am I the only one who saw Dirty Dancing?)
Any non-whites—screwed, obvy: maybe killed by the government or your white neighbors, but almost definitely poor and oppressed.
Black women—it’s called the double burden.
Gay? FORGET IT, you’re a pervert, an aberration, and a disgrace. You can be arrested and imprisoned for it, but the daily doses of shame you’ll get from all around you won’t be mitigated by a wider supportive movement. You’re basically on your own, and you’d probably try to hide it.
Intellectuals—you’re pointy-heads or eggheads, anti-intellectualism is rife, and college is WAYYY harder to get into and is harder, generally.
Today’s liberals—you haven’t even really been born yet, ideologically. You’re still just lousy radicals; socialists and activists—you might actually be killed for walkin’ and talkin’. Otherwise, you could always be fired for being too Communistic (or for your kid being a Commie, or because that bitch in the cubicle behind you j’accused you, and dammit! whyyyy did you read that little red book back in your teens? Shit, you might be being watched by the FBI!)
Care about the Earth? LOL.
If you’re white, you are probably still pretty racist even though you think you’re not. You prolly suck and are a bit of a dipshit, really.
There are like three types of beer sold in all of America. The food is basically meat jello with fruit jello covered in whipped topping for dessert. Or, if you’re poor, cornbread and buttermilk everyday. Peas if you’re lucky. (Hey, my 94 year-old Papaw, an Alabama farm boy, still has this for his supper every night.)
Unwell? Always think about ANY illnesses or physical deficiencies you have. Back then, it would’ve sucked so much harder to have them. Like, I get migraines that are debilitating now, but would’ve been A) worse then without decent meds and B) I’d have been diagnosed as hysterical like my great-aunt was. Psychosomatic? A word you should get used to, ladies. Here’s a wee fistful of Valium to make your mind slowly seep out of your ears, along with your cares and especially your incessant complaints that no one wants to hear.
Free health care? HA! And if you’re black and you can’t make it to the few wards that treat colored patients, you’re more likely to be sent out to die in the parking lot than be treated. Or maybe you’d even get end up in a colored sanitarium and get a 100% FREE! (cause you don’t know about it) treatment that Fanny Lou Hamer—one of my fave civil rights activists—called a “Mississippi Appendectomy”: a forced sterilization.
Whites got those, too—sluts, people with mixed-race babies, po’ folk, Hispanics, anyone with perceived mental deficiencies, and the list goes on. Eugenics started here and outlasted the Nazis here, too, dudes.
Folks with handicaps or disabled family members? Um, maybe you should watch this little clip on the Willowbrook State School.
And, all of these are privileges compared to the rest of the world. You assume you’d be born in the first world? Well, like today, that’s basically like winning a fatalistic lottery. (You won’t.) You’ll be under colonialism’s thumb or some strongman dictator’s. (OK, so some things have stayed the same.)
Finally, and please don’t underestimate what I’m about to say: WE HAVE THE INTERNET. To paraphrase Seth Romatelli: “The Greatest Generation? My ass. Um, have you heard of a little thing called GOOGLE??”
2012 for life. And 2013 after that. Onward ever, backward never!