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Contemporary Southern Identity: Community through by Rebecca Bridges Watts

By Rebecca Bridges Watts

In modern Southern identification Rebecca Bridges Watts explores the results of 4 public controversies approximately Southern identity--debates in regards to the accomplice flag in South Carolina, the gender integration of the Virginia army Institute, the show of public paintings in Richmond, and Trent Lott's arguable reviews relating to Strom Thurmond's 1948 segregationist presidential bid. whereas such debates could function proof of the South's "battle over the past," they could however be noticeable as harbingers of a altering South. those controversies spotlight the variety of voices within the dialog of what it ability to be a Southerner. The individuals in those conflicts may possibly disagree approximately what Southern id can be, yet all of them agree that such discussions are an important a part of being Southern. fresh debates as to where of previous South symbols and associations within the South of the hot millennium are facts of a altering order. yet a altering South isn't any much less specific. If Southerners can locate harmony and strong point of their id, they could also be capable of function a version for the more and more divided usa. The very debates portrayed within the mass media as proof of an "Unfinished Civil battle" can as an alternative be interpreted as evidence that the South has improved and is having a typical discussion as to what its different individuals wish it to be.

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As McCandless’s interviews of cadets at the Citadel after the admission of women there show, The combination of southern and military stereotypes made for a potent combination. “This is definitely a testosterone breeding ground,” one [Citadel] cadet noted. The type of man who chose a military school often held very traditional views of gender identities, roles, and relations. The “macho” attitudes of the men made it difficult for them to relate to women. ” For many men, this was frightening. “They’re not mature enough to handle the fact that they’re not going to be the knight in shining armor, that sometimes they might be the ones getting rescued, and she might, the typical female here, be the one saving them.

30 Such positive accounts validated earlier contentions by women’s advocates such as Karen Johnson, who recounted her own experiences in the military as well as the experiences of women who served in Operation Desert Storm as part of an argument that women were indeed capable of carrying out the physical rituals requisite to initiation into VMI’s system of social mystery. When the Supreme Court began hearing the VMI case in January 1996, Johnson pointed out, “I stand before you as one citizen-soldier who dedicated 20 years of my life to serve my country in the United States Air Force.

L. 8 Although the “rigorous system of military discipline” is but one aspect of the VMI experience, it is the one that most distinguishes a VMI education from one to be had at a typical college or even at another military academy. It is said that when cadets enter the institute and are put through the Rat Line, everyone is made equal, no matter who they are in the world outside the institute. Students progress through the class system and into positions of leadership through their efforts as individuals and as class members helping one another.

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