Everything looks different


Last night my girls, Ellen, and I watched Thelma and Louise together, and because I’d forgotten how long the movie was, the event lasted into the early hours of today, at which point my youngest–who’d been hesitant to even watch it at all for the last scene she’d heard so much about–excitedly chatted to me through my bleary-eyedness, saying that along with Donnie Darko, it was now one of her two favorite movies.

None of them had ever seen it, and Livy asked me in one of the first scenes when Thelma’s husband Daryl was being an asshole to Thelma, “Is that just the way it was back then?” The movie was made in 1991.

No, baby; Daryl’s just a dick.

In the midst of girl power and Thelma and Louise gunning it to their chosen end, Ellen held my left hand still and, as I watched the movie, drew upon my skin the pattern you see in the picture above; somehow, in the warm living room after the hot summer solstice day of 2017, she accessed an internal well of artistry from within a near-meditative state, and–moving henna tube into curves and points–created this freehand design, reaching over while the first section was drying to grab my hand again and add more detail before moving on to make entirely different designs upon her own skin.

When I finally saw the finished product upon my hand, my mouth was open in surprise because I could not formulate a connection to the type of mind that could so effortlessly create such a vision. I couldn’t “get to” where a human being could so confidently embrace hovering over flesh with a tube of dye and still be able to funnel the experience down into a work of art.
Because that’s just not me. I’m never going to be able to zen out and manifest this kind of thing on someone’s arm.

And I used to think that in order to live fearless, I couldn’t say such things to myself. That in order to stand within my own power, I had to self-talk myself with “You can be/do/have anything you set your mind to!”

[Which is where I’d cue up the time I snorkeled in Hawaii with my sister, thus supposedly pacifying my fear of the ocean. Somehow I thought I could talk my fearful emotional mind into experiencing something in a logical way, but, in reality, my logical mind was saying “good for you!” while my emotional mind was saying “what the actual fuck are you doing in the water?!?” because logical mind can only take you so far, and then you’re stuck in the open ocean, hyperventilating and shitting your pants because your feet are dangling in what is basically a giant shark tank and, for the love of god, who is playing that fucking Jaws music?]

But I’ll never be able to “you can do it!”/Pep rally myself into–voila—I’m now Renoir, and being no good at something shouldn’t always bring out the self-esteem protection squad.

Because mind over matter is bullshit and invalidates the natural sense we have of who we are and what choices are right for us.  And, unless you’re hurting someone else, it’s perfectly okay to let yourself be who you are. It’s perfectly acceptable to say “I’m no good at this,” and not feel like it somehow means you’re giving up on yourself.

At the end of the movie, Livy and I discussed what our favorite parts were.

Livy’s favorite part is when Thelma calls Daryl to see if the police have been asking questions and almost instantaneously hangs up, knowing their phones are tapped and that the police are listening based solely on how nice Daryl is to her. It’s pretty classic.

My favorite part is when Thelma, events skewed against her having created a transformation in herself to where she finally feels in control of her own destiny, sits in the passenger seat, and says, “I feel awake. Wide awake. I don’t remember ever feeling this awake. Everything looks different,” and wind whipping her hair, they course together in their convertible as fugitives through the waking world of red rock.

Smells like a Feminist


The video below of Kathleen Hanna explaining the genesis of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” is confirmed as truth by many other sources:  she actually wrote “Kurt smells like Teen Spirit” on a wall and Kurt liked it, and wrote the song not knowing that her words were actually a put down to him about a girls’ deodorant.

The video is funny (and, in parts, NSFW), especially the part where she talks about how–as a self-proclaimed feminist–she took up stripping to pay the bills in college.  She realizes the irony of what she has claimed she is (a feminist) and what she is doing (taking off her clothes for cash), and it bothered me. Because here is this awesome girl who’s made her own way in the world–kicking ass–and feeling judged because of the freedom she has to make her own choices.

And I get that we live in a culture that sexualizes (then represses) nearly everything, and that women do not always have the freedom or the emotional strength to make healthy choices.  And are–sometimes–coerced or forced through desperation into situations where they are damaged physically or emotionally.  I get that.

But, if a woman is making her own choice–with no coercion or other messed up situation–why can’t she take her clothes off for cash and still be considered a feminist?   Why can’t she admit she enjoys sex, or listens to rap music or looks at Playboy or watches XX?   Why can’t she be and do EXACTLY whatever the hell she wants to be and do?

We women are raised in a petri dish called “feminism”, wherein we are encouraged to be little robotic replicas of the same person and, if we vacillate too far away from that schtick, we judge each other mercilessly and point the finger at each other over our perceived lack of dedication to women’s rights.

But why on earth are feminists’ freedoms AT ALL limited by our own definition of feminism?

That’s just utter bullshit.

Making collective decisions based on a construct wherein we all feel pressured into thinking the same way or making the same choice is the very same unhealthy coercion that has kept women down for eons. There is no freedom in conformity; there is no “liberation” in forced behavior patterns.   And we are not inept or lesser or damaged if–in a healthy mind-set of complete self-acceptance and freedom–we choose to do or listen to or enjoy things that we WANT to do or listen or enjoy regardless of their suitability for the entire fellow female population.

If it is–as many have attested–that Kurt was a feminist, then it must have been so discouraging for him to see the inequality, the hypocrisy and the passivity, and witness his female friends and family suffer under the fallacy that they were not equally as capable as he of making choices for themselves.

So let’s do ourselves a favor, follow HIS example and stop making passive-aggressive power grabs by pressuring our fellow females into feeling badly about their feelings and their choices.  Because when we finally stop judging one another–and truly accept each other’s capability for making our OWN choices–that’s the point when we will finally start kicking some serious butt.