I’ve been thinking about feminism lately and what it actually means to me. This came up a while back during a discussion in which one of my friends told another what it means to be a feminist. While the fundamentals are usually the same woman to woman, I think it means different things to different people and rightly so. Also, how dare you tell another person what to think?!
I can say hand on heart that I identify strongly as feminist, particularly over the last five years as I’ve grown and changed an awful lot. But I know I can be a much better feminist. I have so much to learn, to read, to understand – how could I ever be done?
A lot is said about the type of feminist who rolls out the notion of claiming to be one just to serve themselves. This has got me thinking (Carrie Bradshaw head tilt):
Am I guilty of the same? Do I let things slide when I could speak up for all women and not just women like me?
Supporting women after all must mean supporting ALL women and that’s what I want to do. But how, and what can I do? This is a rhetorical question, one to which I must seek the answer. My own answer.
In addition, I must not be afraid of the ‘label’ and think less about people trying to shut me down. This I know is something I worry about in polite circles. With friends I can froth at the mouth and let it all hang out, the workplace is very different. But I don’t want to be the girl who only goes so far. I want to stamp my feet and call people out. Be true. Be strong.
I’m not always Ms. Vocal in life, I’m definitely not the one who shouts loudest. People talk over me sometimes but I can find a way to be strong and eloquent my way, I know I can. There is a place for me, even if it’s not on the front line. People need to bring up the rear too.
I will find it. (Who knows, maybe it is the front line? Maybe it’s far beyond that?)
So this month I’m declaring it Feminist February here on A Voluptuous Mind. I’m going to try to focus on feminist topics, Jill and I are doing feminist films, and I’m going to see where it takes me. We need feminism more than ever, President Dump and his band of Bigoted Men are proof of this.
Every single day too, in ‘real life’ there is a reminder that we need it, and I’m going to be part of it.
Some people just want to watch the world burn, said someone once in a Batman movie. I thought it was Joker but it turns out whoever said it (Alfred?) was talking about Joker.
I don’t think I want that but sometimes I have to fight a very strong urge not to rough up my own life. Nothing big, not infidelity or stealing a vehicle and driving it into a ravine, just common or garden “Fuck this shit” behaviour. Walking away from responsibility, tongue lashings and drinks in faces, that sort of thing.
Life when it gets into its lulls can be so damn dull, all I want is mischief and something to distract me. Right now I’m feeling restless, uninspired and on the cusp of something new. What that something is, I don’t even know and I have got to figure it out. Whether that’s Botox or a new job, I’ll let you know.
In the meantime, nurture your inner riot girl any way you see fit. She’s in there, I swear. ❤
I was recently lucky enough to find Kenzie via her GREAT blog This, On Purpose (or she found me, it doesn’t matter). What matters is that I love what she writes and we share a love of horror films and pop culture in particular.
Based on this, and the fact she’s a very cool girl, it was a no-brainer to ask Kenzie to be involved in the She’s All That series. Go check her out on her blog forthwith!
Christa, the lovely creative behind A Voluptuous Mind, has graciously invited me to guest blog here. I’ll readily admit I’ve had one premise in mind for it as it’s kicked me hard over the past couple of months, so I thank Christa for giving me an alternate outlet for it.
There are no greater friendships than the ones that press on.
At 43, I ought to know this by now. At 43, I still sometimes have trouble.
“Ghosting” is a strangely appropriate slang term often reserved for when one is dating. One is left in the lurch, completely disconnected of all communication from the other. It’s an invisible-man sort of phasing out of existence, a shitty passive-aggressive “good bye” consisting of no return calls, no return emails, no return texts. Nothing.
Frankly, I think the term is too limiting in its definition because “ghosting”, such as it is, occurs amongst friends as well.
I was eleven when I first experienced ghosting from a friend. There was this girl gang, a clowder of cats with feathered hair and pastel-neon colored clothes. Eleven, and I was too earnest. I didn’t understand “mean” coming from girls my age whatsoever. “Mean” belonged at home with angry family members. “Mean” came from schoolboys confused about the changes happening, the wolves coming out to hunt. Susan led the girl gang, the clowder. Susan with her glinty eyes edged with bright blue ice queen liner.
Susan didn’t like me much. Maybe it was my naturally curly hair that hadn’t been frizz-permed into a sticky Aqua Net mold. Maybe it was my pale skin that couldn’t turn golden in the sun. Instead, it went all strawberry and wetly peeled. Maybe it was my temperament, the fact I cried about anything because I didn’t understand.
Or maybe it was because I had something Susan wanted: my best friend, Holly.
Holly and I had shared much and had been through even more together. We were also survivors, sisters-in-arms, having been stalked and tormented by a nasty trio of teenaged boys with their jagged leers and switchblades. We were inseparable; we were true.
Then one day, Holly shut it off, she shut it all off. We’d no cell phones in the ’80s, but we didn’t need them. In middle school, back then, we were all about passing notes and recording, whispering secrets and communing. One day, Holly simply disconnected me by ignoring everything I said, everything I did, anything I could do to get her attention. All I saw of her in those weeks after was the view of her rigid back coupled with the occasional sidelong glare and eye roll.
It was Susan, of course, the one responsible for Holly’s ghosting of me. Susan would say something that scratched and left marks, often something scathing (and utterly unoriginal) about my appearance, and Holly, standing there, finally in the midst of the clowder, would laugh as it was expected of her, glancing every so often at Susan for approval. Even still, Holly didn’t look at me when she joined in the taunts and jeers.
In middle school, cats like Susan would inevitably get tossed in the water, left to fend for themselves. It took both time and a horribly embarrassing situation for Holly to reappear in my world. I was several weeks into my Susan-concocted invisibility when my first period (yes, that) hit me while I was on the school bus on the way back home. I was sitting in the back, well away from Holly and her siblings. They all sat in the front of the bus, her siblings acting as a barricade in case I tried to come up to talk to her.
It was always a long ride after an arduous day at school. We had a bus driver who made it clear to everyone on board, every day, that he hated kids. He also had a habit of pulling over to the side of the highway to take a piss right there, out in the open, in front of the world and its children. Anyway, the bus driver regularly screamed all sorts of colorful obscenities if any of us attempted to shift into another seat, so I quietly stayed put in my misery, thanking the gods of frumpy clothing for the long, baggy windbreaker I had on that day. I don’t know if it was an act of blatant stupidity on my part, but I was so desperate for a friend who would sympathize about the torment I was going through. So I did what any other eleven year-old girl would do in such a predicament: I sent Holly a note from my place at the back of the bus, one of those meticulously folded things that would’ve taken a Rubik’s Cube expert to unravel.
I’d taken a risk, of course. The bus was dotted with kids who’d be more than likely to attempt to unfold my note and read it aloud to anyone even half-listening. Luckily, everybody on the bus then was much more engrossed in the thrash metal music one of the 8th graders insisted the bus driver play on the way home (he didn’t like the 8th graders either, but if it got everyone to shut the hell up, so much the better). I watched her from the back as Holly carefully unfolded the note and read it, her lips moving as she took in every word I’d written. When she’d finished, she carefully folded the note and stowed it deep in a backpack pocket. Her gaze was steady towards the front. She seemed deep in contemplation rather than apathetic, which was a good sign. After a minute, she shifted in her seat, facing the aisle and rear of the bus, her eyes locking with mine. She nodded at me and held up a finger for me to wait. Then she glanced over at the bus driver, who was focused on both the road and the cassette that was suddenly being eaten whole by the cassette player.
Holly quickly slung her backpack over her shoulder and, head down, scurried to the back of the bus. When she finally reached me, she plopped herself down right beside me, and I knew right then the ghosting barricade had been lifted, especially when she leaned against me and whispered, “Does it hurt?”
“Not anymore,” I said. We grimaced at each other, at the very thought of womanhood, so gross. Just as the bus driver caught on to what had happened and yelled at Holly for having moved, we started giggling like mad.
Our bond reinstated, we dealt with all the Susans, all the unlucky circumstances, all the mishaps and dangers that come with the cusp of teenaged life. We remained friends until our families relocated due to military obligations.
It was like that then, far easier to forgive at eleven years old.
I’d not really been affected by “ghosting” from adult friends until the past several years or so. One good friend in particular quite recently decided it best to cut me off for some inexplicable reason, to “ghost” me, if you will—this, even after we’d talked a lot about just how shitty the act of “ghosting” was. (Yeah, I like my betrayal served with a hefty side of hypocrisy. Who doesn’t?)
Adult friends recognize that ghosting is not polite, it’s not civil. Adults are meant to talk to each other. If there was a problem, drinks and conversation ought to do the trick. It’s the kind of talk that lasts well into the evening when the sky is a bruised, brushed curtain and time has grown meaningless. There’d be some tears shed, some egos deflated, if only for a moment. Nevertheless, it’s a time when hats are off, but no one goes home without answers because that would simply defeat the purpose.
There are some adults around though who’d prefer not to face their problems with another, head on, and I don’t understand it at all. It’s almost as if they believe that by cutting off someone else, they’re doing that particular so-called friend a favor. After all, what kind of person in her/his right mind enjoys confrontation?
Hell, I call cowardice on the matter.
So I end this with a(n unsolicited) warning for those friends, good friends, better friends, and best friends out there, particularly those grownups who are on the cusp of ending it outright without informing the other about it:
If so inclined to keep things mum, be well aware that friendship’s done. An attempt to rekindle that friendship true will undoubtedly be greeted with a fitting ‘Fuck you.’
“When you meet a woman who is intimidatingly witty, stylish, beautiful and professionally accomplished, befriend her. Surrounding yourself with the best people doesn’t make you look worse by comparison. It makes you better.” ~ Ann Friedman
God knows right now, in the wake of Brexit, the American election race, the sharp rise in hate crimes in the UK, Michael Gove‘s fleshy bottom lip and all the horror going on in the world (from Iraq to the USA), that we need a little reminder that life is not fucked up or all bad.
Things they are a changing but the fundamental elements of what makes life beautiful still remain, we just need to take a moment and believe it. With this in mind, I’ve decided to enlist the help of my very favourite gal pals and writers to ramp up the positivity around here. You see how generous I am with the sharing? Although technically, my collaborators will be doing all the work, so really they’re the generous ones.
My plan is, over the next couple of months to share a weekly post by one of these remarkable women. Many of these writers are actually you, dear readers, and some of you know of one other already which warms my cockles.
My brief on this project was laid back:
It should be empowering, perhaps about how you stay positive, your views on feminism/body positivity/*insert topical buzz word here* – that sort of thing or anything really than inspires you.
Could I be any more vague?
Failing that, you can honestly contribute anything, a favourite recipe, a post about a crush you have, I’m easy. I just want to hear your voice and share it with my minimal readership – in other words, pretend you’re writing a post only likely to be read by yourself and my mum, my biggest fan!
I’m really excited about this because I know you’re in for a treat. I’ve already read a few ideas from my first guest and she is the flaps (not nuts, flaps). So I hope you will join me in showing her love when she makes her A Voluptuous Mind debut.
Let’s get the PMA flowing, remind ourselves that hate will never win and be fucking fabulous at the same time!
Do you want to be involved? If so, I want you! ❤
If I haven’t already emailed you and you like the idea, why not sling me an email (on the contact form on the About page). I’d love to hear from you!
I was going to gush about Kathleen Hanna in the intro to this review but every time I read it back I sounded like a school girl, and I! Just! Wanted! To! End! Every! Sentence! With! An! Exclamation! Point!
You see what I’m working with here? Though I think, pondering it, that is exactly how one of the co-founders of the Riot Grrrl movement should make you feel. Empowered, excitable, unafraid to feel the way you feel!
I love her. I do. I didn’t find her soon enough in life but I found her and that’s the main thing. Obviously, it’s never too late to be a Riot Grrrl and I’m convinced there are 40,000 different ways to be a Riot Grrrl (if not more) – but I think I might have been a different woman had I grown up kicking life in the face with my DMs.
Anyway, this wonderful documentary tells Kathleen’s story and throws in a lot of information I didn’t know, which kept it fresh and interesting at all times. I was honestly as happy as a clam throughout – it made me laugh, cry and pump my fist on more than one occasion.
I will say this is our first documentary so far in our Blog Collab so I’m not sure how this is going to go. Could be rocky, could be as fluid as Bailey’s running through a peep toe stiletto, we shall see.
I guess you should be prepared for *Spoilers* as with any review, you know just in case.
IMDB Synopsis: A look at the life of activist, musician, and cultural icon Kathleen Hanna, who formed the punk band Bikini Kill and pioneered the “riot grrrl” movement of the 1990s.
So you think you know Kathleen Hanna? I’m pretty sure I knew only the bare bones and this documentary has padded them out, offering me insight into an incredible character, one who has taken her voice and used it to empower a whole generation (and then some) of women.
Taking pain and trauma and turning it outward, refusing to be silenced for a second, Hanna became the poster girl for feminism, which you can imagine came with its own price.
We open with Hanna at a spoken word competition. She’s reciting a piece about rape and we later learn a little bit more about what influenced that. Hanna herself has been a victim of sexual abuse but often refers to other women’s experiences as far worse than her own.
Hanna receives a piece of advice that sees her move from spoken word poetry to punk rock, and she forms Bikini Kill with her college mates.
Bikini Kill was a band that kicked, screamed and refused to go quietly. Hanna commanded her stage, shouting for the men in her audiences to move to the back so the women could come to the front. She sang about abuse, incest, patriarchy, sexuality; drawing from personal experience and that of her sisters.
She also coined the phrase “Smells like teen spirit” and was best friends with Kurt Cobain, the only person she could turn to when she was sexually harassed by a man (who else). Since she was fast becoming the very voice of feminism, she felt she couldn’t seek help for this situation and Kurt helped and believed in her.
Not wanting to ask for help seems to be common theme running throughout this documentary and comes back to Hanna around 2005, but after Bikini Kill she went at it alone as Julie Ruin, recording an entire album alone in her bedroom.
We cover the beginning of her romance with Adam Horovitz of The Beastie Boys, her activism and how that affects, and indeed fits in with the musical ideals of her now husband.
After Julie Ruin we move into Le Tigre territory and this is where I know Hanna best. I love love love Deceptacon. Alas, after a series of big successes and a world tour, Hanna starts to lose her voice and knows in her heart that something just isn’t right.
She eventually tells her band mates that she has nothing left to say and doesn’t want to do music anymore. She tells us now that that was all a lie.
For five years Hanna lives with an undiagnosed illness that turns out in the end to be Lyme disease. We witness footage of Adam caring for his wife and the side-effects of her medication as she fights the disease.
And the final act sees The Queen working on new material with The Julie Ruin and getting back into music, slowly but surely. Her way though, always.
No questions per se but why can’t Kathleen Hanna be my best friend?
I’m sorry this review isn’t better because I loved every moment of The Punk Singer. I’m just not that good and was distracted with my own raging thoughts of fucking the patriarchy while I watched. (Not literally).
The contrast between young, raging Hanna and her older, sicker self – both beautiful, both strong AF just in vastly different ways – is really something to consider. As usual it makes me think about strength and how is manifests itself in different ways for different people.
I’m not going to gush anymore but I am going to say that this is a brilliant piece of art and well worth a view.
I realise as well that I’ve failed to mention anybody else but all the interviews are great and it’s inspiring to hear so many women were inspired and went on to continue Hanna’s teachings.
What a fucking woman. Then and now.
My Rating: 5/5. Fucking perfect in all its imperfections, much like the woman herself.
What did wifey think? Let’s bust on over to her place and see.
NB: This is actually our second documentary. The first one was The Wolfpack.
Boss: What have you got to say for yourself then, Christa?
Me: *Lifts shirt to reveal ‘FUCK THE PATRIACHY’ etched across belly in black eyeliner*
Boss: Where are we at with that thing, Christa?
Me: *Pushes knuckles together to spell out ‘Revolution’*
Boss: No, but really
Boss: Get out
[Boss enters office]
Boss: Where’s Christa?
Colleague: Dunno, but she stuck that to your door with an envelope opener: Note: WE WILL TAKE BACK ALL THE WORDS THAT WERE INVENTED TO HATE, MARGINALISE AND ALIENATE US. BITCH CUNT DYKE SLUT WHORE (MARKETING EXECUTIVE)
Boss: Not again