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Homophobia in Playground Rhymes


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olddude 18 Mar 09 - 09:56 AM
Azizi 18 Mar 09 - 09:56 AM
Midchuck 18 Mar 09 - 10:41 AM
GUEST,TJ in San Diego 18 Mar 09 - 12:00 PM
PoppaGator 18 Mar 09 - 12:07 PM
SINSULL 18 Mar 09 - 12:33 PM
Azizi 18 Mar 09 - 01:40 PM
katlaughing 18 Mar 09 - 01:54 PM
Joe Offer 18 Mar 09 - 02:19 PM
High Hopes (inactive) 18 Mar 09 - 02:47 PM
Azizi 18 Mar 09 - 03:03 PM
Bloke from Poole 19 Mar 09 - 08:32 AM
Azizi 19 Mar 09 - 10:01 AM
Jack Blandiver 19 Mar 09 - 10:18 AM
Janie 19 Mar 09 - 11:08 PM
Lonesome EJ 20 Mar 09 - 12:19 AM
katlaughing 20 Mar 09 - 12:34 AM
GUEST,.gargoyle 20 Mar 09 - 05:48 AM
Azizi 20 Mar 09 - 10:17 AM
Azizi 20 Mar 09 - 10:31 AM
katlaughing 20 Mar 09 - 10:58 AM
Azizi 20 Mar 09 - 12:00 PM
GUEST,Gray 21 Mar 09 - 01:05 AM
Rowan 22 Mar 09 - 06:09 PM
Celtaddict 22 Mar 09 - 09:49 PM
GUEST,JimmyO 23 Mar 09 - 09:48 AM
Azizi 07 Apr 09 - 09:51 AM
Azizi 10 Apr 09 - 06:39 PM
Azizi 20 May 12 - 12:59 PM
Bonzo3legs 20 May 12 - 01:19 PM
GUEST 21 May 12 - 05:04 AM
GUEST,GUEST 21 Oct 14 - 05:01 PM
meself 22 Oct 14 - 02:53 PM
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Subject: RE: Homophobia in Playground Rhymes
From: olddude
Date: 18 Mar 09 - 09:56 AM

I can truly say I have not heard of these variations and I consider myself blessed for not hearing them. Hate should not be tolerated towards anyone. Good for you Azizi for bringing it into the light.

I try in my life to ask myself each night
"what have I done right today" I usually have a long list of what I have I done wrong.

This is one of those "you done right Azizi"

bring it out and show it for the disease it really is

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Subject: RE: Homophobia in Playground Rhymes
From: Azizi
Date: 18 Mar 09 - 09:56 AM

For what it's worth, the asterisk in my 18 Mar 09 - 07:56 AM post was supposed to lead to a short version of this note:

With regard to my sources for the rhymes that will be featured in the book that I am working on, and the rhymes that found on my website, I'm grateful to have received permission from Joe Offer & Max Siegel to use posts from Mudcat guests (who aren't members) without attempting to get any permission from them. As per my agreement with Joe and Max, I must receive prior written permission from Mudcat members to repost their (your) comments on my website and/or to use their comments in any book or article I might write.

I have blanket permission from the editor of the "In the 80s" website to use examples from that site. I also have blanket permission to use examples from the Octoblog website. In addition, I have an agreement with the editor of the old Annex website to use examples from members of that site with prior written permission.

I have received permission from other websites for my use of material that is separate from the Cocojams' childrens' rhyme pages.
Also, I have posted a notice on my Cocojams website that I can use any examples or comments submitted to that site without seeking additional permission.

In addition to collecting children's playground rhymes from the Internet, I have also collected rhymes from face to face observations/interviews of children, teens, and adults, mostly in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area (1997-2008). I also include rhymes on my websitge that I recall from my childhood, from my children's childhood, and from my observances and information received from other family members, friends, and acquaintances.

In contrast to a number of other hand clap rhymes that I've collected from the Internet, I've never seen or heard any performance of "Down By The Banks Of The Hanky Panky" (besides on Internet videos). That said, the first example of this rhyme that I collected was from an email sent to me by an African American woman from Pittsburgh who is a friend of a friend. This young woman recalls playing a short version of "Hanky Panky" in Pittsburgh in the year 2000.

Although I have never played any "Down By The Banks of the Hanky Panky" games, I have seen performances of two competitive hand clap circle games that are similar in performance style to "Hanky Panky'. Those games are "Stella Ella Ola" (or "Strolla Ola Ola" as it is called in the Garfield area of Pittsburgh where I live) and "Quack Diddly Oso". I havee also played both of those games. It should be noted that two Internet contributors of "Hanky Panky" rhymes in "my" collection mention the name of one of these games as being played the same as "Hanky Panky".

If any Mudcat member has any question about my use of Mudcat posts on my website and/or in any book or article that I might write or edit, please feel free to send me a pm.


Azizi Powell

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Subject: RE: Homophobia in Playground Rhymes
From: Midchuck
Date: 18 Mar 09 - 10:41 AM

Children's playground rhymes have always been built around what was most forbidden and what they thought would upset "the grownups" most.

Live with it.

If you make a big deal about rhymes, jokes, etc., that pick on homosexuals (or blacks or jews or polacks or blondes or lawyers), you'll just give rise to more of the same.

An attempt to forbid something that a lot of people choose to do, simply drives it underground and makes it, possibly, more exciting. And deprives you of any chance to limit or control it. You may be able to diminish it considerably by education, and regulation of doing it in public, as with smoking in the US. But that's a different approach.

The US should have figured this out from the Prohibition experience. Obviously, we didn't.


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Subject: RE: Homophobia in Playground Rhymes
From: GUEST,TJ in San Diego
Date: 18 Mar 09 - 12:00 PM

To the extent this phenomenon exists, I abhor it. Kids, as was said previously, need to be kids first.

I work with and have known any number of homosexual folks going back to my days in the Army and before. In the "closet" days, most lived in terror of being found out. In the military, Criminal Investigations (CID) folks would tail "suspects" on weekend passes, etc., to try and entrap them. Some enlisted types used to enjoy "stomping queers" in their spare time. I think we have come a long way toward understanding and acceptance since those days. I don't entirely comprehend homosexuality, I just accept that, for some percentage of our population, it is a fact of life.

I wish, however, that words such as "gay" (once meaning lighthearted)had not been so co-opted that it has become difficult to used them in verse or prose without the raised eyebrow. I'm sure you can think of other examples.

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Subject: RE: Homophobia in Playground Rhymes
From: PoppaGator
Date: 18 Mar 09 - 12:07 PM

(Disclaimer: I have not read through the whole thread, just the first 20 or so posts)

It's true that pedophilia is not synonymous with homosexuality; different pedophiles victimize different sets of youngsters ~ same sex, opposite sex, or both.

Still, when a (very) public figure is so strongly implicated in pedophilic activities, it should not be surprising that criticism and ridicule arise in popular culture, including but not limited to playground rhymes. And when said public figure is male and his victims are boys, how could the ridicule/criticism NOT include reference to the homosexual aspect of the violations?

I do not believe that this taking-to-task of Michael Jackson should be labelled as "homophobic." Jackson did not put himself in a position to be ridiculed by engaging in gay sex with other consenting adults ~ he did so by ("allegedly") preying upon children, specifically male children. Certainly, the homosexual aspect of these incidents is part of what is being ridiculed ~ but the pedophilic aspect is the basic (and most disturbing) thing about the entire situation.

The Greek-derived suffix "phobia" means "fear-of." The neologism "homophobia" has come to mean prejudice against homosexuality, which is not really the same thing as fear of it. I think that this popular usage is misleading and incorrect.

Admittedly, some negativity towards gay people on the part of some "haters" is based upon insecurity about one's own (hetero)sexuality ~ fear that one might himself be homosexual, or unduly susceptible to seduction ("recruitment") by homosexuals.

However, I believe that it is unfair, and an oversimplification, to characterize all criticism of, and discomfort with, same-sex orientation as being grounded exclusively in fear. Prejudice and hatred against gay people is no more a "phobia" than white supremecy or racism is "negrophobia." Fear may be part of the picture in some cases, even in many cases, but fear is not the whole story, not by a long shot.

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Subject: RE: Homophobia in Playground Rhymes
Date: 18 Mar 09 - 12:33 PM

Long before Jackson's scandal came out his behavior labelled him as everything from a freak to a faggot - not my words. Kids who loved his music were still put off by his eccentricities and made fun of them - my son was a Jackson fan when the Thriller Tour hit town. And while children still make fun of him, his tour sold out in a matter of hours.

I suspect that Midchuck is on the right trail here. Certainly Shock Value is behind the parodies of the boy on the burning deck. And they are funny. Kids have a sense of humor.

The hate comes in at a later age - mid teens, when young males in particular feel threatened by homosexuals both because they are unsure about their own sexuality and they are afraid of unwanted encounters.

I do wonder why young boys in my youth did not have rhymes about the local priest who was known (at least among the boys) to be a predator.

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Subject: RE: Homophobia in Playground Rhymes
From: Azizi
Date: 18 Mar 09 - 01:40 PM

I "hear" the reasons why the word "homophobia" doesn't really fit these examples.

Maybe it would be best for me to just call them what I think they are-taunting rhymes, rhymes that "diss" ("insult",
"put down") Michael Jackson for a number of reasons, including the allegations that (as the line in the rhyme goes) "he plays with little boys".

That said, I don't have any doubt that people wrongly equate pedophilia with homosexuality. Thus, in spite of the fact that I agree that "kids should be allowed to be kids", I believe that adults should be alert to natural 'teaching moments' in which they can correct children's misinformation and misperceptions. It seems to me that a teaching moment might occur when adults hears their own children and/or children they know reciting these Michael Jackson verses that say that the Pop singer is a "fag".


Another line that is used in some of these rhymes is a put-down of the listener's father- "Your daddy wears pink panty hose" or the listener's brother (with the same "wears panty hose" line). Although those lines really refers to cross dressing, the people chanting it believe that they are insulting the fathers' manhood.

These lines (including what I call the "Michael Jackson verses") are composed in the spirit & style of the African American verbal insult exchange known as the dozens. In addition to the "your father wears panty-hose" line, the only other reference to the father is that he "smells like King Kong". But, true to the dozen's insult game, there are a lot of "yo mama" lines in many of the longer versions of the "Hanky Panky" rhymes. Most of those lines assert that the (imaginary)person they are confronting has a mother who stinks, is fat, or looks like King Kong, or is all of the above. (It appears that the monster "King Kong" is a really big insult with kids-no pun intended).

Do I think that these kids mean those "your mama" insult lines. No. But I do believe that many kids "get the message" from the rhymes that include the "fag" reference that it's bad to be gay (with "bad" here meaning definitely "not good".)

And so I'd rather err on the side of caution. I'll present these rhymes and let others debate whether some of the lines really are about homosexuality, cross-dressing and/or pedaphilia. And if some people conclude that there really is some smoke to this fire (again pardon the pun given the Michael Jackson hair burning incident which I believe inspired many of these rhymes), I hope that others will debate what, if anything, these rhymes could mean for those children and for society in the short term and/or in the long term.

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Subject: RE: Homophobia in Playground Rhymes
From: katlaughing
Date: 18 Mar 09 - 01:54 PM

Kids are often so ignorant of what they are saying. When we lived in a town which had a high population of lesbians and feminists, as well as gay men, some boys my oldest daughter went to grade school with taunted her with "your mom wears combat boots" which could have meant anything from my being a practical shoes wearer to being a butch dyke, BUT I don't think they knew that AND I didn't wear combat boots. Their motivation was to get a rise out of my very feminine daughter which they did; she hated it and got very upset when they did. She learned to ignore them and/or challenge them, along with her little sister, and they eventually stopped. They were sophisticated enough to know there were lesbians, but they also knew my husband, so I don't think they literally meant to call me a lesbian. For my daughter, it was never about them calling my sexual preference into question, though, it was strictly her sense of fashion which they offended.:-)

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Subject: RE: Homophobia in Playground Rhymes
From: Joe Offer
Date: 18 Mar 09 - 02:19 PM

I agree that I don't like the use of the word "homophobia" to include all forms of prejudice against homosexuals, but I think it's clear that is the common usage. It's a word that has "spin" on it, conveying the implication that all prejudice against homosexuals is fear-based. Certainly, fear is a significant element in prejudice, but I don't think it's the whole story.

If somebody has a "phobia," it's ordinarily a fear that is not brought on willfully. The phobic person is a victim, not an aggressor. It seems clear to me that the preponderance of prejudice is willful and mean-spirited.

Interesting observation about the "your mother wears combat boots," kat. I used to hear that all the time when I was in my early teenage years in Wisconsin, and wouldn't have thought there was any implication of sexual orientation. Of course, I didn't KNOW anything about sexual orientation at the time, and really didn't even think about the meaning of the phrase. I thought the "combat boots" thing went along with the "your momma is SO ugly..." jokes. Oh, and back in those days in Wisconsin, working-class mothers WERE ugly (oftentimes) and did not have what one would call "fashion sense," and you could imagine them wearing combat boots to go with their pin curlers and babushkas.


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Subject: RE: Homophobia in Playground Rhymes
From: High Hopes (inactive)
Date: 18 Mar 09 - 02:47 PM

and that's the difference between then and now. Now, it seems almost everything can have a sexual "message" laid over it. Back then that never occurred, as far as I remember. It's sad really.

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Subject: RE: Homophobia in Playground Rhymes
From: Azizi
Date: 18 Mar 09 - 03:03 PM

katlaughing, thanks again for posting a link to your essay on teaching children critical thinking skill (the hyperlink is in the 16 Mar 09 - 10:32 PM post to this thread).

I particularly like your points that "Children's minds are like sponges; they soak up everything they see and hear without discernment for reality. They need guidance and discipline; to be taught critical thinking skills and non-violent means of resolving their differences or grievances."

Thanks also for sharing your daughter's reaction to the "your Mama wears combat boots" taunt.

I don't recall any taunts about combat boots, but I do recall when my children were growing up in the 1980s and early 1990s that one taunt was that some kid was wearing "brogans". I'm not really sure what "brogans" look like, but I know that the person saying it was "rippin'" on another person and saying that her/his shoes were cheap.

I thought of that when I saw the word "brogans" in some African American folk song in some Mudcat thread (I can't remember which thread or which song). But I recall that the singer was bragging that he had some brogans and-at the same time-the singer was putting down people who didn't have any.

How times change and also how times stay the same.

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Subject: RE: Homophobia in Playground Rhymes
From: Bloke from Poole
Date: 19 Mar 09 - 08:32 AM

It used to be considered that homosexuality was a learned or wilful behaviour, and remaining so was a matter of choice from which people could be educated. Now it's proper to recognise that some people are just born that way.

These days it's considered that fearing or loathing homosexuality is a learned or wilful behaviour, and retaining that view is a matter of choice from which people can be educated. It is quite improper to accept that some people might just be born that way.

Funny old world.

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Subject: RE: Homophobia in Playground Rhymes
From: Azizi
Date: 19 Mar 09 - 10:01 AM

Bloke from Poole, if you believe in reincarnation (which I do), then yes, some individuals could be born "fearing and loathing homosexuality". But those people who might (note that I said might) have retained from one or more past lifes these unconscious reactions to other people's sexual orientation, still have the free will in this life to evolve beyond that fear & loathing.

In other words, it's my opinion that retaining fear & loathing of homosexuals is indeed a matter of choice, though it might be more difficult for some people to do than for others (by "virtue" of their past lives experiences and their present life experiences). Furthermore, I believe "education" does have a role to play in this, but I'm not only referring to formal education.

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Subject: RE: Homophobia in Playground Rhymes
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 19 Mar 09 - 10:18 AM

It's true that pedophilia is not synonymous with homosexuality; different pedophiles victimize different sets of youngsters ~ same sex, opposite sex, or both.

The actual reason why paedophilia is not synonymous with homosexuality is because paedophilia is an act of criminal sexual abuse committed upon a minor, whereas homosexuality is normal sexual behaviour between consenting adults. The gender of the minor upon whose person the acts are being committed is as irrelevant as the gender of the person committing them.

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Subject: RE: Homophobia in Playground Rhymes
From: Janie
Date: 19 Mar 09 - 11:08 PM

Brogans are sturdy, ankle high workboots. They are not stylish. They can be quite expensive.

They might indicate either lack of style, or that the wearer works in a capacity that requires physical labor or foot protection. They would not, however, indicate "cheap."

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Subject: RE: Homophobia in Playground Rhymes
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 20 Mar 09 - 12:19 AM

I first heard this rhyme when I was about 10 or 11, in 1961 maybe.

Whistle while you work
Hitler is a jerk
Mussolini bit his weenie
Now it doesn't work

My guess is that one was a product of the late thirties, when Snow White came out at the movies, and the song was popular. It has the basics for a long-enduring playground rhyme, though. It uses two well-known and disliked characters. It implies their close political relationship extends to fellatio. It is pretty funny, especially to someone of that pre-teen age where homosexuality and its sexual aspects are both absurd, mysterious, and taboo. And finally Hitler gets what he deserves...a defective weenie.
I have a difficult time viewing that particular rhyme as dangerous or mean spirited, and though I went through a period where calling someone a queer was as bad an insult as you could throw at them, and where "you suck" was meant literally as fighting words, I don't believe I have retained an unhealthy homophobia from it. I tend to think of that behavior as something boys go through at that point in their lives when they are trying to define themselves as the sexual adults they are becoming, and I doubt that any honest efforts on their enlightened parents parts to teach them love and tolerance will stop it. I do think that those, especially boys, of this age who are discovering that they are in fact homosexual, suffer badly from these behaviors and are ostracized and stigmatized. Maybe that part is getting better compared to when I was a kid, seeing that these people can be open about it, and find comfort in others who feel the same way. I think it must have been horribly lonely to be a gay teenager in 1965.

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Subject: RE: Homophobia in Playground Rhymes
From: katlaughing
Date: 20 Mar 09 - 12:34 AM

I knew someone who was in intelligence in the Army, so they were in a special branch or something. Anyway, when they landed in Europe and got off the plane, the sgt. on the ground, who was regular army, called them "Monterey Marys" as they had trained in Monterey and were intellectuals and, I would assume, seemed somewhat effeminate to the reg. army guys.

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Subject: RE: Homophobia in Playground Rhymes
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 20 Mar 09 - 05:48 AM

This thread - is absurd.

The military is full of nick-names.

A "Monterey Mary" is a term that is used in the military to indicate a graduate from the Defence Language Institutel in Monterey California. They are language specialists. All branches are trained there, and some foreign services. It is NOT a playground. No kids here...these are very much adults in every sense.

They use "Monterey Mary" to describe themselves. Not effeminate. Not a putdown. Not a phobia. There is nothing "gay" about the term (and the woman - on occasion - do wear combat boots - and many are mothers - and their daughter are proud of them) It is not a slur.

I has been my honor to work with and have extended friendships with a few graduates of the Insitute (One has the ability (incredible to me) to listen to ANY language sound, note it in a form of shorthand and precisely repeat back the exact phrase. The skill is used to clarify particular words, expressions, names in interrogation.

They are HIGHLY respected and have been deployed to some of the vilest/nastiest places on the face of the earth. They have AMAZING skills.


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Subject: RE: Homophobia in Playground Rhymes
From: Azizi
Date: 20 Mar 09 - 10:17 AM

Janie, with regards to your 19 Mar 09 - 11:08 PM post about brogans, I stand (actually sit) corrected.

Within mainstream American culture and African American culture "brogan" shoes are considered insult worthy not because that brand of shoes are inexpensive or "cheap", but because they are considered to be ugly & "country"

In this context "being country" means that the person either lives in a rural area, or they used to live in a rural area and still retains "country ways" or the person supposedly acts and dresses like he or she is from "the country". "Dressing like you are country" means that you dress with no regard for the latest fashions, including shoes. In the United States (and in other countries?)"being from the country" also has long been a short cut way of saying that a person is "stupid". Putdowns of people with "big feet" is a core element of the general putdown of people who are said to be "country", because "country people" supposedly don't wear shoes as much as people who live in the city.

It's easy to find "brogan jokes" by using an Internet search engine like Google. And what becomes readily apparent is that these brogans are jokes in mainstream American culture (meaning Anglo-American culture) and in African American culture. For an example of this insult in African American culture, see this excerpt of Otis Reddings & Carla Thomas' March 1967 song insult song "Tramp":

You know what, Otis?
You're country.
That's all right.
You straight from the Georgia woods.
That's good.
You know what? You wear overalls, and big old brogan shoes, and you need a haircut, Tramp.

For an example of a putdown reference to brogan shoes in Anglo-American culture see this sentence in Loyal Jones' book about Country Music Humorists and Comedians :

"He wore large brogan shoes, each on the wrong foot"...

The core implication in insults about women wearing "brogans" is that these women are not feminine. "Combat boots" are often substituted for "brogans" in these insults as in this ubiquitous example that was recently posted on best shoe insults "Your momma wears combat boots."

People might laugh at these taunts, but for a powerful reminder that putdowns can hurt a lot , click Cootie Girl by Beatrice Hogg for a very well written article by a woman who was the victim of taunts throughout her all her school years. Ms. Hogg includes this reference to brogans in that essay:

"At ten, I wore the same shoe size as my mother, seven and a half. My mother thought that a sturdy, brown brogan would be the best shoe for school. The big, heavy shoes made me look like a cartoon character."


Ms. Hogg ends her short essay by writing:

"I wish I could say that Cecil Junior High was better, but it was more of the same. I started wearing glasses at twelve and my mother died the summer after seventh grade, when I was thirteen. And don't get me started about puberty. But I survived.

I am now over fifty and I still don't fit in. But what was once weird is now just eccentric. I have friends who are just as unique as I am, and I don't have to ever kick a ball if I don't want to. I shop at thrift stores, buying the discarded clothes of strangers, but I get to pick them. And now, I like my unusual name. Growing up as a Cootie Girl has made me more sensitive, a quality I use in my writing. They may have been laughing at me then, but as a writer, I can have the last word — in print. Cootie Girls Rule! (Stick tongue out here.)"


Some may feel that this discussion about "brogans" and about taunting people who are viewed as different is only tangential to the topic of this thread. But I believe it all fits together.

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Subject: RE: Homophobia in Playground Rhymes
From: Azizi
Date: 20 Mar 09 - 10:31 AM

I appreciate almost everyone's posts to this thread. But I want to give special props to Lonesome EJ for his 20 Mar 09 - 12:19 AM insightful comment. Thanks, Lonesome EJ.

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Subject: RE: Homophobia in Playground Rhymes
From: katlaughing
Date: 20 Mar 09 - 10:58 AM

greg, I will pass the compliments on to my brother...veteran of the Language Institute. He is quite brilliant and served with distinction. When he was in, "Monterey Marys" was perceived to be a reference to homosexuality regardless of what you may have been told.

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Subject: RE: Homophobia in Playground Rhymes
From: Azizi
Date: 20 Mar 09 - 12:00 PM

On the subject of women wearing boots, though they're admittedly not "combat boots", it's kinda ironic that Timberland boots for women are a fashion statement for casual wear with pants and long skirts or dresses.

Although Timberlands don't look exactly the same as brogans, I think that they look close enough to be in the same family as the boots that a lot of people like to diss.

Which goes to show that what you call something(and, by extention, what you call someone) is important.

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Subject: RE: Homophobia in Playground Rhymes
From: GUEST,Gray
Date: 21 Mar 09 - 01:05 AM

When I was in elementary school and middle school we had rhymes like these but they really don't mean anything. In the the case of Micheal Jackson we did understand about his apparent "boy fetish". I'm about to turn 16 so I remember these years clearly.

In high school we call each other gay and it really has lost its meaning of homosexuality. Its just like calling someone stupid. You don't mean anything by it, but you want them to know what they did or said was the stupidest thing you've ever heard.

And of course, many children don't understand what gay means. They just know that older kids say it, the same goes for retarded. I know that I learned what gay meant in about fifth or sixth grade because I had a brother who was four years older than me. But more likely they'll end up not having a negative connotation with the word gay. I know that I don't, its just a word I use unconsciously as a complaint.

Yankee Doodle went to town riding on a rocket
(something something something something.)
And burned his little weenie.

Wish I could remember the middle, but we thought we were getting away with murder back in kindergarten or first grade with this, because it said "weenie".

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Subject: RE: Homophobia in Playground Rhymes
From: Rowan
Date: 22 Mar 09 - 06:09 PM

And there are people who, surrounded by others wearing "normal" 'urban office' clothes to work, will persistently wear boots and knee-length shorts to the office in an attempt to display the metaphoric hair on their chests.

Now I've got that little effort away, it seems clear to me that Azizi's research has concentrated on African American contexts and that her tracing of examples across time and space (in the African American context) will be a valuable contribution. Although centred in the US it fits into the genre of endeavours "started" by the Opies in Britain and with many similarities to Ian Turner's researches in Australia that were published in 1969 as "Cinderella dressed in yella"

It's a long time now since I read the Opies' book (and cannot now remember its title) but I know that Ian Turner was quite clear about the need to record and analyse playground and schoolyard folklore that was ignored or disapproved of by the arbiters of taste and propriety. He demonstrated that there was a different society operating out of the hearing of most adults and its mores, while sharing attributes of adult mores, used words quite differently to the 'more informed' adult meanings. An earlier posting about potty humour put it very nicely.

While I am well aware of the difficulty of removing one's personal values from fields of rational thought I think it would be helpful if posters could separate the anthropological intent of collecting and analysing folklore from hindsight-focussed and narrowly constructed political agendas, no matter how worthwhile those agendas are. A rigourous analysis of such material can better inform how we deal with our agendas.

I suspect Azizi has some knowledge of both the Opies' work and of Ian Turner's and I hope, when she publishes her own collections and analyses she sees fit to indicate the similarities and differences of African American examples to those from other times and places. Azizi should be encouraged.

Cheers, Rowan

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Subject: RE: Homophobia in Playground Rhymes
From: Celtaddict
Date: 22 Mar 09 - 09:49 PM

Very interesting to see the 'brogans' enter this conversation about (childhood) insults. In my recollection, 'brogans' were not only sturdy work boots but specifically IRISH work boots, and saying someone wore them was lumped in with the idea of 'country' or unsophisticated ('just off the boat' and 'just fell off the turnip truck' are used very similarly) and with the assumption fostered in England at one time that the Irish were somehow less than human, which carried over into the 'no Irish need apply' mentality in the U.S. The word 'brogan' was Irish Gaelic, as was 'brog' for a work shoe, which became 'brogue' in English (presumably so it would not be pronounced 'brogg' to rhyme with hog). I have read that the Irish 'brogue' or lilting accent now widely admired in the U.S. apparently got the term from an earlier time when being Irish was not a good thing, and the accent was described as if it were clumsy, clumping along, 'country' and unsophisticated.

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Subject: RE: Homophobia in Playground Rhymes
From: GUEST,JimmyO
Date: 23 Mar 09 - 09:48 AM

bubblyrat wrote most of us "straight" or "normal" guys are not actually AFRAID of homosexuals, we just find the thought of what they do DISGUSTING and REPULSIVE !

Funny really. I don't find myself thinking about what homosexuals do.
It's of no interest to me because I'm not homosexual.

bubblyrat however seems to have spent some time thinking about it.
Possibly a lot of time.
In quite a lot of detail it would seem.

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Subject: RE: Homophobia in Playground Rhymes
From: Azizi
Date: 07 Apr 09 - 09:51 AM

For the record, I'm reposting an example of "Down By The Banks of The Hanky Panky" that was just posted on another Mudcat thread. I do so because I believe it adds another perspective to the discussion about homosexuality (and not "homophobia")in children's rhymes.

Subject: RE: Origins: Down by the Banks of the Hanky Panky
Date: 07 Apr 09 - 01:08 AM

The version that I learned as a child (Arizona in the 1980s) were:

Down by banks of the hanky panky
where the bullfrog jumps from bank to banky
With a hip, hip, hip, hop
He jumps from a lilypad --

This was sung, so it was likely taught to us by adults at summer camp.

My friends and I also had variants of the other rhymes, but they were separate:

Coca-cola went to town
Pepsi Cola shot him down
Doctor Pepper fixed him up
And now we're drinking Seven-up
(sung to the tune of Yankee Doodle)

and the rhyme in question:
I pledge allegiance to the flag, Michael Jackson is a fag.

That was 1985 give or take a year. The version I knew from childhood did not include the line about little toys or little boys. I believe this predates the sex scandals. Rather, the faggotry in question was his wearing a white glove, prancing on stage, and grabbing his crotch. I distinctly recall that none of my friends knew what a fag was, but Michal Jackson grabbing his crotch was a sources of considerable discussion.



Let me state (I hope that this is a re-statement) that I don't like the word "fag" or variants of that word. Yet, I'm copying it without resorting to strategies like I do for another pejorative word-the "n" word. I recognize that some folks can cringe when they see that other word as I do when I see the "n" word in print. I cringe (but I admit not as much)when I see that colloquial word for "a male homosexual". But there's no commonly used strategy to substitute for that word, and so, for the sake of the folkloric record, I've left that word and its' other forms alone in that example. But I want it known that I don't use those words.

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Subject: RE: Homophobia in Playground Rhymes
From: Azizi
Date: 10 Apr 09 - 06:39 PM

I just read an article about an 11 year old boy committing suicide because he was bullied and teased. His mother reports that he often was called "gay" by the other children in his school.

That article gave some information for a help hot-line. Just in case any people access this thread from the Internet and could use this information, here it is:

The Trevor Project
The Trevor Project operates the only nationwide, around-the-clock crisis and suicide prevention helpline for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth. If you or a friend are feeling lost or alone call The Trevor Helpline.



Also, here's a link to Stop Bullying Now


Here's a link to the article that I read:

Here's an excerpt of that article:

"For many years, I was a victim of bullying because I grew up poor, my family was homeless and I had the nerve of being smart. The bullying was so bad that from age 12 through highschool I did everything to avoid school including dropping out. The teachers knew and so did my mother but they all ignored it. Once I realized that I was worthy of love and success I went back and finished school.

Please if you know anyone who is being bullied take him or her seriously. Do not pass it off as its just kids being kids. Listen to your child. Their future may be at stake."

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Subject: RE: Homophobia in Playground Rhymes
From: Azizi
Date: 20 May 12 - 12:59 PM


For those who may be interested, I put aside my plans to write a book about "Down By The Banks Of The Hanky Panky". However, I published several posts on that subject on my Cocojams website.

Here's a link to a post that presents examples of those rhymes that mention Pop singer Michael Jackson & include references that are the topic of this Mudcat thread:

Best wishes,

Azizi Powell

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Subject: RE: Homophobia in Playground Rhymes
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 20 May 12 - 01:19 PM

Whatever he was or wasn't, Michael Jackson was very wierd.

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Subject: RE: Homophobia in Playground Rhymes
Date: 21 May 12 - 05:04 AM

Poor Az -- nice to see you still kickin round ol 's a jolly on to bring a curl to your hair and a churl to your lips.

He 's the meanist
He sucks the horses 's penis
He ' the meanest he takes it up the ass.

Ever since he found it
All he does is pound it
He 's the meanest
He a fine piece of ass

Gypsies in the Phallas SFH3 - CIRCA 1995 (down down song - San Francisco CA


got a dozen more only worse - want em?

A simple search will turn up "Beastality ' Best " just heard a newer "necrophilia " with some new verses at a friend 's memorial regarding the tragedy of cremation.

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Subject: RE: Homophobia in Playground Rhymes
Date: 21 Oct 14 - 05:01 PM

" She's a HO-MO-sexual,
she's got big tits and TESTICLES
and the only dick around here's on her head!
- heard on the playground at a dundonian primary school, approx 2009.

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Subject: RE: Homophobia in Playground Rhymes
From: meself
Date: 22 Oct 14 - 02:53 PM

Older links to Azizi's site don't seem to work. Try this: .

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