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Rednecks & Westies

Posted by Smokey Stover on December 15, 2003

In Reply to: Rednecks & Westies posted by ESC on December 13, 2003

: : : : : When someone is rigging something poorly, I've heard people say, "Well, you sure are an Afro Operator."

: : : : : There's another term along those lines.

: : : : In the previous comment, Lewis used the term 'Rednecks'. I've only ever heard this to be an American term. I assumed that this describes someone of a presumably lower intellect, perhaps from a lower socio-economic group. My partner disagrees saying that he thinks it refers more to an attitude, quoting when the 'rednecks' belted the proverbial out of the Easyriders. Although I'm not sure how that makes his view of rednecks different to mine.

: : : : So what exactly is a redneck? Is there a particular geographical area that they are confined to and how did this originate?

: : : : This sounds a bit like our term 'Westy'. In Melbourne and Sydney the western suburbs have traditionally been the working class suburbs. As a result, there's a certain 'attitude' that evolved from these areas, that has now generically been termed 'Westies'. Historically, Westies wore checked flannelette shirts, opened all the way to reveal dark blue singlets, and they wore ugg boots on their feet. That's changed now as you can spot a Westy even without that attire. They also speak and behave a certain way. As a result, because it's now an attitude rather than simply a location, a Westy can be found anywhere in Australia.

: : : : Is that similar to a Redneck?

: : : Sounds like it to me.

: : :

: : I've read dozens of explanations for "red necks," and I'm not in a position to vouch for any of them. But in my agricultural youth it was thought that "rednecks" got that way from conspicuousl differential exposure to the sun. These were farmers who, quite sensibly, wore hats. In fact, the hats were more often on the model of the ruined fedora than the straw hat. Not only did these farmers have red necks, but they had very pale foreheads, and sometimes pale faces and upper necks, while often there would be a sudden change (in front) where the shade from the hat ran out and there would be a red strip at the top of the open shirt. The farmers designated redneck mostly worked hard, and there was certainly a lot of residual resentment of blacks from the era of Reconstruction. Lillian Hellmann portrayed rednecks and white trash as pretty much the same, as vicious people with few redeeming virtues in "The Little Foxes," a play very popular in its time. SS

: Yes, farmers get red necks from being in the sun. Being called a "redneck" started out as an insult. But some now embraced the title. However, I would use extreme caution when calling someone that. It might earn you a punch in the nose.

: Isn't there a "redneck" tan where only the forearms are tan? Or maybe only the left arm is tan from being propped in the car window.

My earlier post needs a little expansion, I think. The red necks exhibited by redneck farmers was most obvious or distinctive when they took their hats off, as in church or on social occasions. It was then that the very high contrast of red necks (and sometimes a strip of chest just below the neck) and those parts of the face and neck kept in shade by the hat was most obvious. I should have mentioned that resentment and even hatred of blacks did not fail to persist even up to the present in parts of the rural Southern population (and of course in the city to some extent). It's always tempting to blame your poverty on someone else. That the Negroes had it even harder didn't erase the resentment. In reality, Southern poverty of all kinds can to some extent be blamed on Southern legislators, fairly (alas) caricatured by Al Capp in the figure of Senator Claghorn, in L'il Abner. The Southern members of Congress put a fair amount of effort into digging into the federal pork barrel, but did nothing to help the southern economy to modernize. Senator Eastland (D-Miss) deserves a chapter of his own. After WWII he got a bill passed which whould pay landowners like himself to keep their agricultural land out of production. This act immediately deprived thousands of Negro share-croppers of their livelihood.