Songs for the Struggling Artist


Anger Is My Superpower
January 16, 2019, 1:54 am
Filed under: feminism, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , ,

Up until my mid 20s, I would have sworn to you that I did not feel anger. And I didn’t. I didn’t experience what I felt as anger. Mostly I cried. There were tears, lots and lots of tears and since I thought tears meant sadness, what I felt was sad, not mad. Anger was so foreign to me during my prime acting years that I worried about playing parts that required me to be angry. I could play anything but anger. My, how times have changed. Now, anger is my super power.

All my life, I’d been trying to avoid it. I’d pushed aside any hint of it, suppressed it, repressed it. Then – through this very blog, I began to express some of the things I was “frustrated” by, injuries that made me “upset.” And then I reached a breaking point and I wrote a very angry blog post. That anger led to the most views I have ever gotten.

Again and again, I find that when I let loose my anger, the world responds positively. Some folks appreciate the quiet, considered, intellectual type analysis of things – but the angry posts are the hits. The angry posts have fire in them.

Anger fueled my return to the theatre after a year’s absence. Anger writes me songs. Anger gets me moving. In their recent books on anger, Rebecca Traister and Soraya Chemaly both discuss the stigma against anger – how everyone has always said that anger is bad for you – when it is, in fact, the reverse. Anger can be very very good. Soraya Chemaly talks about her search for anger management for women and how all those classes are really for men. The anger classes women need are how to access our anger, how to feel it, how to direct it, how to use it.

There is a profound release in expressing anger – whether it be on the page or in person. Simply acknowledging its existence is powerful. For a lot of women, the simple act of declaring our anger is profound. Traister pointed out that almost every woman she talked to for her book would at some point declare that her anger had passed – that she WAS angry (past tense) and then she channeled it into action and she wasn’t angry any more.

I will tell you right now that this is not true for me. I am angry. I was angry. I am still angry. My anger moves in waves and some days I am angrier than others but this is all current. And I am not about to push my anger down again. It is fuel for me. It makes things happen.

Sure – it may make me seem like a stereotype of a feminist – the kind we have all been declaring we’re not like, the kind so many women would like not to be. But I really don’t give a damn. Those bad-ass angry ladies were (and are!) fierce warriors and they were fighting for rights that I have benefitted from. I should be so lucky to be seen in their ranks.

I may still look nice and approachable and accommodating to the outside eye. I still smile broadly. I still look friendly. But I tell you what, I don’t mind walking down dark streets anymore. Part of me is waiting for some asshole to try me – just so I can unleash all my fury on him. I learned a nice trick involving a key to the eye recently and my fingers itch to use it.

I mean – not really – of course. I don’t really want to be attacked. But anger is getting me through my days (and nights!) unmolested. It is getting me out of bed in the morning instead of sinking into hopeless despair. It’s getting me fans on the internet. I wouldn’t go back to my earlier life “without” anger for anything. Life with anger is immensely more powerful and rich than life without.

Is this possible for everyone? Nope. Getting to feel and express anger is a privilege. Both Chemaly and Traister point out how this kind of expression is not possible for the vast majority of women. Women of color especially are prevented from expressing their anger from multiple sides.

So…since it is my privilege to be angry, I feel it is my obligation to use my righteous anger on others’ behalf and to express it every way I can to at least be a vicarious channel for others who are not permitted the space to be angry. For those who don’t feel like they can be angry? I can be angry for them. I am angry for all of us.

This blog is also a podcast. You can find it on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts.

If you’d like to listen to me read a previous one on Anchor, click here.

Every podcast features a song at the end. Some of those songs are now an album of Resistance Songs, an album of Love Songs, an album of Gen X Songs and More. You can find them on Spotify, my websiteReverbNation, Deezer and iTunes

*

Want to help me develop my superpower?

Become my patron on Patreon.

Click HERE to Check out my Patreon Page

*

Writing on the internet is a little bit like busking on the street. This is the part where I pass the hat. If you liked the blog (but aren’t into the commitment of Patreon) and would like to give a dollar (or more!) put it in the PayPal digital hat. https://www.paypal.me/strugglingartist

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Claiming My Name
December 21, 2018, 12:59 am
Filed under: art, feminism, music, writing | Tags: , , , , , ,

Do you know my name? It doesn’t appear on the blog in a lot of places so maybe you don’t. My name is Emily Rainbow Davis. It’s time to claim my name.

When I started the blog, I needed to be anonymous. I wrote a lot about arts organizations and institutions – some of which I worked for and some of which I wanted to work for. Despite a lot of lip service about being receptive to feedback, arts organizations are notoriously prickly about criticism and hard truths. I needed to tell those hard truths but I did not want to jeopardize my meager wages by linking them to my name. As a freelancer, I couldn’t even risk telling the truth on end-of-the-year surveys if my name or any identifying info was on them. By the time I had a lot of experience, I was already seen as difficult by some of the people in authority who had the power to simply not call me the next time work was on offer. I didn’t want to give those folks more ammunition – so I did my best to obscure my identity.

Also, I was well aware of what happened to women on the internet – especially feminist women. As Laurie Penny put it at PatreCon this year, “Having an opinion is like wearing a short skirt on the internet.” That is – being a woman with an opinion puts a target on your back. You’re “asking for it.” And I was definitely not interested in being on the receiving end of misogynistic abuse. I wouldn’t/couldn’t be silenced but I had to be obscured. It helped, I think. I have never been the target that I expected to be when I started talking about feminism but then I’ve also never really had the platform either. I suspect, that in the name of safety, I have sacrificed some potential for visibility as well. Is the risk gone? I doubt it. But – my interest in integrating my whole self and living it publicly is now larger than my fear. I’m so furious at how the world has devolved, I no longer think I would cower in fear at an attack. I might, instead, bare my teeth and growl.

Even in my artistic life, I’ve been only using a portion of my name. In part, this has been because my middle name can be seen as a little too feminine and in this patriarchal world, feminine things are seen as less than. There are those who don’t take me seriously because my middle name is Rainbow. It’s why I stopped using it. But…screw those people. If you can’t take a Rainbow seriously, I don’t know how to help you. It’s a kick-ass natural element that combines disparate weather elements. My parents gifted me with it. I’m going to use it. I will stop traffic with my ephemeral beauty. That’s my plan.

To be honest – there wasn’t really a plan. It just sort of evolved this way. I think it kicked off when I decided to put my music up on Spotify. There’s a singer songwriter in Australia who shares my first and last name and has had some success over the years. We’ve run into one another’s websites through time. I didn’t want our identities to be conflated or confused – so I figured I needed to do something to distinguish us. I thought about using my middle initial but in the end, I figured my actual middle name was the most memorable bit and might help people find me. Once I had a music identity on-line with my full name, it became clear that I needed a website with my full name and before too long, I was using it for almost everything.

My friends have called me by my full name for years. So has my family. So I’m just catching the public up with everyone else.

I may become a target. There may be some who take me less seriously. But I may also become more visible. I may be able to integrate the many different things I do into one coherent self. I am Emily Rainbow Davis. Welcome to my world.

This blog is also a podcast. You can find it on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts.

If you’d like to listen to me read a previous one on Anchor, click here.

screen-shot-2017-01-10-at-1-33-28-am

Every podcast features a song at the end. Some of those songs are now an album of Resistance Songs, an album of Love Songs, an album of Gen X Songs and More. You can find them on Spotify, my websiteReverbNation, Deezer and iTunes

*

Want to help me, Emily Rainbow Davis?

Become my patron on Patreon.

Click HERE to Check out my Patreon Page

*

Writing on the internet is a little bit like busking on the street. This is the part where I pass the hat. If you liked the blog (but aren’t into the commitment of Patreon) and would like to give a dollar (or more!) put it in the PayPal digital hat. https://www.paypal.me/strugglingartist

 

 



Books About Anger and The Safety Tax
November 29, 2018, 9:44 pm
Filed under: art, feminism, theatre | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

I can’t tell if reading all these books about women’s anger is helping or making things worse. On one hand, it is tremendously affirming to read about my current experience and all the reasons I have to feel the way I feel. On the other hand, I’m newly angry about things I thought I’d already worked through my fury about. Despite my lifetime awareness of the ways sexism has tied my hands, at the moment, each reminder of an old fact or a fresh perspective makes me newly furious.

For example, Soraya Chemaly’s framing of the safety tax on women is at the forefront of my new awareness. She points out that the threat of rape and sexual assault is so ever present that women have to take extra security measures, pay extra money to be safe. (i.e = take taxis, live in safer (in other words, more expensive) neighborhoods, park closer to their destinations.) Now, personally, I’ve always been a little reckless in this fashion. I have been known to take a subway by myself at 2 am. I have generally just refused to pay the usual tax I guess. And I’ve been relatively lucky.

But the other night, after a show, when no subways came for over an hour, I started to get angry about this aspect of things all over again. I got home around 1 am – over two hours after leaving the show. And because the trains were a disaster – I ended up having to take the subway that drops me off ten blocks from my apartment rather than the one that drops me two blocks away. I realized that the MTA basically just made my journey, not just delayed, but exponentially more dangerous. Arriving home at 11pm is a very different situation than arriving home at 1 am. Arriving ten blocks away instead of two means my trip home is many times more dangerous.

Now – the MTA is a disaster for everyone right now. Our governor has tanked the whole system and everyone is having a miserable time. However – a series of decisions around it have also made things incredibly more risky for women. For example – trains used to shift to their late night schedules around 12. If you made it on a train before 12, you should be okay. Then the late night schedule shifted to eleven. Not great but still do-able – still time enough to see a show and grab a quick drink after. But now the “late night schedule” begins at 9:45 pm. For women who are better at safeguarding themselves than me, this means that seeing a show means taking a taxi home. Every show women see just became much much more expensive.

While still at the beginning of my two hour journey home, I saw a woman hit the door of a trash train that was slowly passing. She was so furious. All she could say was, “I’m so angry.” I thought maybe the driver had said something to her but when I asked, she explained that due to the lateness of the trains and the misinformation on the train countdown clocks, she was going to miss the last train back to her neighborhood in Brooklyn. It was not yet 11. And I understood completely why she was at her rope’s end.

When I started this blog, it all ended there. But then I went to rehearsal in a space that I have rehearsed in dozens of times before. I arrived in the neighborhood not long after six in the evening but it was already dark. The neighborhood is not well lit and there was no one around. It’s not as if I didn’t know the place was the way it was. I have been there before. But this time, I realized that I was asking almost a dozen women to come there. This time, I realized that the building is dark. This time, I realized that it was a little foreboding. This time, I realized that the handy magnetic door entrance that only the renter has the keycard for is not safe for anyone who might be stuck outside with no way to buzz in. On the way out, several of our actors waited in the lobby for car services. It was 10pm. It was dark. The walk to the subway may have been short but it was deserted. A car service was a good idea. And car services aren’t cheap. And you know what? That’s a freakin’ safety tax that women are paying all the time. Already under paid or unpaid, women in the arts are either taking giant risks to tough it out in out-of-the-way arts venues or are spending money on cars. I never noticed it before, I think, because I was in a headspace of “being a cool art chick who’s super down to be anywhere, even dark deserted urban areas, man.” Anyway, this is one cool art chick who is now trying to raise some extra cash to compensate those ladies for their safety tax. (Fundraiser still open, contribute if you like!)

So, after all that, I have to say that reading these books about anger and rage is, in fact, helping. I may be angrier in the short term but in the long term, it’s helping me make space to talk about something we never talk about in the arts. I have been working in theatre for over twenty years, I have literally never heard anyone discuss women’s safety in this way.  It’s about time. Now I can do something about it in my own little pocket of this universe. I recommend reading and I recommend doing.

I got to see both these badass ladies speak in the same week.

This blog is also a podcast. You can find it on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts.

If you’d like to listen to me read a previous one on Anchor, click here.

screen-shot-2017-01-10-at-1-33-28-am

Every podcast features a song at the end. Some of those songs are now an album of Resistance Songs, an album of Love Songs, an album of Gen X Songs and More. You can find them on Spotify, my websiteReverbNation, Deezer and iTunes

*

Want to help me pay my safety tax?

Become my patron on Patreon.

Click HERE to Check out my Patreon Page

*

Writing on the internet is a little bit like busking on the street. This is the part where I pass the hat. If you liked the blog (but aren’t into the commitment of Patreon) and would like to give a dollar (or more!) put it in the PayPal digital hat. https://www.paypal.me/strugglingartist



We Might Be Okay

I’ve been feeling pretty apocalyptically doomed to a terrible dystopian future. But I recently got some doses of hope in some very funny places and I thought it might give you a bit of hope, too.

Ever since my imaginative journey into dragons and witches, I have been looking for a way I can inspire fear in real life. I have been looking for ways to make men back off and/or stay away from me. I thought I should learn to growl. I have been experimenting, trying different techniques, sounds and means of production. Finally, I googled. And the videos that came up for how to growl are almost all made by preteen girls. Tween girls are teaching us how to growl. They have all the hallmarks of usual preteen behavior but they also know how to growl and they are willing to teach us.

If this generation of girls grows up growling, I am actually pretty psyched about the future. Now – there are no guarantees that they will use these skills to fight the patriarchy but their enthusiasm and willingness to share something that is so primal, so far away from the mandate to be demure or sexy, is a challenge to the patriarchy just in and of itself.

I am hopeful for a future of fierce girls who know how to growl and so grateful that they are willing to teach the rest of us.

So girls growling gives me hope. The other bit of hope involved a flight across the country.

The plane was pretty Trumpy, I have to say. It was headed to a Trumpy state and a lot of the people on board seemed to be Trumpy people. At the front of the plane, in first class or business class or whatever the heck they call it at this airline, were some very Trumpy white people. I mean, it was exclusively white people up there – but some of them were obviously Trumpy. A guy with a fancy watch and a suntan that he probably paid a lot for was reading a hardback copy of Tucker Carlson’s book. He appeared to be reading it un-ironically, next to his wife – whose suntan he probably also paid for.

At the back of the plane, in Basic Economy, were most the people of color on the plane. Surrounding me were a Chinese family and an Indian family. This particular airline charges a fee to let you pick your own seat and those who don’t pay are seated toward the back. I know this because I was one of those who didn’t pay the extra fee. Because of economics and the economics of white supremacy it is no surprise that this economic situation led to an old school segregated transportation experience that led to white people in the front and people of color in the back.

That’s not the thing that gives me hope. Obviously. That’s just a horrifying sidebar. What gave me hope was that, on this very Trumpy plane, they brought down little screens and played a movie and the movie that they played was a sweet father daughter story. There was one movie for everyone on the plane. And in that film, there were several scenes in which the young woman kisses her girlfriend. Two young women of color are kissing each other an every screen on this Trumpy plane and no one shouted, no one threw anything at the screen. The movie played and then it was over and it was no big deal. On this very Trumpy plane, no one was the least bit concerned about the lesbians on screen. The retrograde fascists in our government may be bending over backwards to take away the rights of LGBTQ folks and I’m doing what I can to make sure they do not succeed – but even if they do – the cultural battle for the minds of Americans on this front has already been won.

A major airline played this movie without the slightest concern about the letters they might receive. If you’d told me twenty years ago that I’d be able to watch this movie on a plane, I’d have never believed it. Twenty years ago, the only place I could have such a story would have been in the arthouse movie theatre. And now it’s on a plane. So progress has been made. American hearts and minds have been opened sufficiently to enjoy a charming love story between two young women of color.

And then there was the actual love story of a queer couple of color I know. On the day I took this Trumpy plane, I learned that my friend had died – cancer claimed her body  – but not the couple’s love story. All around the country, through the wonders of social media, tributes rained down – not just to my dear lost friend – but to this extraordinary pair of people. Even death could not part them and from around the world, witnesses paid tribute. And that outpouring of spirit, as well as the years of their relationship, (I mean, #RelationshipGoals) give me hope for where we’re going – even as bad news pours in.

There are beautiful partnerships of people of all genders forming and getting stronger every day. We are (hopefully) making space for everyone to be included in love stories and coming of age stories and tragedies and comedies. And if, in some ways, we are going backward, as in this airline’s economic policy that reinforces structural racism, there are young women who can teach us to growl like wolves. We can learn to fight such things with the power and the strength of wolves, taught to us by girls.

This blog is also a podcast. You can find it on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts.

If you’d like to listen to me read a previous one on Anchor, click here.

screen-shot-2017-01-10-at-1-33-28-am

Every podcast features a song at the end. Some of those songs are now an album of Resistance Songs, an album of Love Songs, an album of Gen X Songs and More. You can find them on Spotify, my websiteReverbNation, Deezer and iTunes

*

Want to help me find hope?

Become my patron on Patreon.

Click HERE to Check out my Patreon Page

*

Writing on the internet is a little bit like busking on the street. This is the part where I pass the hat. If you liked the blog (but aren’t into the commitment of Patreon) and would like to give a dollar (or more!) put it in the PayPal digital hat. https://www.paypal.me/strugglingartist



If She’s Not Shooting Fire From Her Fingers, I Don’t Want to See It

I was once a voracious watcher of movies and TV. When I was a pre-teen I would go to films even if I was pretty sure I wouldn’t like them. I saw whatever I could get my eyes on. TV, too. I’d watch any old thing. There was always something to learn.

As time has gone by, I am much more discerning in what I put in front of my eyeballs. I am picky about what I watch and will abandon anything that isn’t doing the job. I think that may have something to do with age and a desire not to waste my increasingly precious time.

But in the last few weeks, I have become even pickier. I need my viewing to be medicinal, in some way. I want it to help me through the current moment. And there’s not a whole lot that will do that.

What’s interesting to me, though, is how clear it is what WILL do the job.

I need it to star women, preferably with magical powers, in positions of authority. I want witch stories. I want women in charge with men at their mercy.

What I’ve run into, though, is how little of this sort of story there is. In fact, I’ve already seen most of the things that would fit the bill. I’m exploring a wider and wider range of what will satisfy me. Why oh why is it so hard to find a show where a lady sets people on fire? Won’t anyone give me what I need?

In my search, though, I have found some things I didn’t know I needed. The Worst Witch is a show for young people and while so far no one’s been set on fire, I’m finding that seeing a witch school for girls with an all female staff means, after watching three episodes, there was only one man onscreen for less than 20 seconds. I did not know I needed this. But I did. It is an all girl world and, in it, the girls are learning to become authoritative.

“Do you know what a witch does?”” asks one teacher.
“Spells?” guesses the struggling student. “Broom stick flying. Wears a pointy hat?”
“She bends the world to her will.”

Oh my god I need to learn how to do this. Someone sign me up for witch school immediately.

But what’s funny is – the actual line was not “She bends the world to her will.” In trying to remember this scene for this blog, I made that up. Because that is what I want witching to be. Because it is what I want.

Actual line: “A witch makes things go her way.”
Nice. But not quite as powerful as I need, apparently.

I need to watch women bending the world to their wills – whether it is through magic or some other means. Oh, what other means are there? My needs are so specific right now and so underserved. I want a world full of women but I stopped watching Orange Is the New Black because I cannot watch all those women completely disenfranchised, trapped and unable to exercise real power.

I want women with magic powers because I want women with power. Will the Charmed reboot serve me as well as the old one did? I think so. I’ve seen two episodes so far and before they even discovered their magical powers, one of the Charmed Ones punched an MRA dude in the face, so this show won me over quickly. However, so far, the new Charmed Ones have not set anyone on fire the way the old ones did and this will need to change. Pronto.

I got to see a few episodes of the TV adaptation of A Discovery of Witches and while there is one very satisfying fire circle, one deadly circle of fire is not enough circles of fire for me. I need 99% more fire circles.

I have never been that interested in violence in film and TV. I generally look away and plug my ears but I suddenly understand the desire for it. Why are these characters TALKING when they could be shooting fire out of their fingers?!

So – if you have any shows to recommend that fit this very specific bill, I would very much appreciate it. I imagine someday I’ll be ready to watch something besides women shooting fire again, but that moment has not yet arrived. So send me your pyrokinetic witches, please.

This blog is also a podcast. You can find it on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts.

If you’d like to listen to me read a previous one on Anchor, click here.

screen-shot-2017-01-10-at-1-33-28-am

Every podcast features a song at the end. Some of those songs are now an album of Resistance Songs, an album of Love Songs, an album of Gen X Songs and More. You can find them on Spotify, my websiteReverbNation, Deezer and iTunes

*

Want to help me find power without shooting fire out of my fingers?

Become my patron on Patreon.

Click HERE to Check out my Patreon Page

*

Writing on the internet is a little bit like busking on the street. This is the part where I pass the hat. If you liked the blog (but aren’t into the commitment of Patreon) and would like to give a dollar (or more!) put it in the PayPal digital hat. https://www.paypal.me/strugglingartist

 

 

 



Thoughts on Defiance
November 16, 2018, 1:31 am
Filed under: age, feminism, resistance | Tags: , , , , ,

He poked his head out of his apartment as I waited for the elevator. He then came out with his dog and followed me into the elevator. I already felt stalked. In the elevator, he seemed to be a giant, taking up twice as much space as me and the young man who had been on the elevator when I got in.

The tall man with his dog was instantly aggressive. He wanted to know if I’d come from the apartment next door to him. I had. Just that was enough to send this guy on a rant. He said the people in that apartment banged their cabinets day and night and he was furious about it. I told him I just worked there and knew nothing of cabinets but I didn’t think it was them. I mean, that apartment is inhabited by two infirm elderly people neither of whom can reliably go out on their own. There’s no way they’re hammering.

But this guy was convinced. And livid. At me, too. Just because I’d come from there. He was pretty terrifying, to tell you the truth. Particularly in an enclosed space.

His manner was terrifying, his logic absurd but the thing that blew me away was something he said: “That woman. She’s so defiant.”

He’s talking about an elderly woman who can barely walk. Defiant, he said. She’s defiant. And defiance is a very interesting word to use in this situation. Because it suggests that he expects to be treated with subservience and obedience, that he thinks of himself as someone in power, with authority and this woman has dared to defy him. She has refused to obey. He has told her to stop banging the cabinets (something she is definitely not doing, by the way) and she not only pays him no mind but she doesn’t respect (what he thinks should be) his authority. He is probably twenty years her junior but because he is a man, he thinks she is defiant.

I am very interested in defiance – on who is seen as defiant and who uses the word in relation to others. For example, despite decades of experience in teaching, I don’t think I ever once called a student “defiant” – no matter how much of a pain in the ass they were being. It would simply never have occurred to me. I think defiance lives in direct relationship to obedience and my worldview is such that I do not particularly believe obedience is owed to anyone. (I’m a big questioner of authority, as you might have worked out by now if you’re a regular reader of the blog.) Defiance basically means that someone has failed to be obedient to someone who demands it. The man in the elevator expected obedience from his neighbor (simply due to her gender, I assume) and his fury at being denied this obedience was such that he could not contain it and he spilled it in every possible direction. I think he thought to himself, when he saw me: “Ah, a woman younger than me. Since I can’t get that older woman to obey me, I bet I can make this one obey.”

Sorry Charlie. You have no authority over me. And also you met a witch in the elevator and now you are nothing but a pile of ash.

This blog is also a podcast. You can find it on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts.

If you’d like to listen to me read a previous one on Anchor, click here.

screen-shot-2017-01-10-at-1-33-28-am

Every podcast features a song at the end. Some of those songs are now an album of Resistance Songs, an album of Love Songs, an album of Gen X Songs and More. You can find them on Spotify, my websiteReverbNation, Deezer and iTunes

*

Want to help me continue to be defiant?

Become my patron on Patreon.

Click HERE to Check out my Patreon Page

*

Writing on the internet is a little bit like busking on the street. This is the part where I pass the hat. If you liked the blog (but aren’t into the commitment of Patreon) and would like to give a dollar (or more!) put it in the PayPal digital hat. https://www.paypal.me/strugglingartist

 

 



Why, Yes, I am Unhinged. Thank you for Noticing!

Over the last couple of decades, in my sessions with my Rubenfeld Synergist, I have found myself returning to a theme of “keeping it together.” Why do I think I have to clutch my thigh, immobilize my shoulder, turtle my neck? Because I must “keep it together.” Because I don’t want to “lose it.” Everything might “fall apart.”
I experienced my body as all buckled in, strapped together, contained by the proper restraint.
Over and over, I have learned to allow myself to let go and over and over I have returned to discover that I have contained myself again.

My synergist will often ask something like, “What would happen if you fell apart? What does losing it look like?” And I had no idea.
I have some idea now. And, truthfully, it looks great. It looks like freedom.

*

On a long walk after listening to Soraya Chemaly talk about her book, Rage Becomes Her, my friend and I talked about the power of imagination, of art, of dragons and how witchcraft made a man leave us alone just from a small hand movement and a funny whooshing noise. My friend said, with obvious appreciation, “You’re unhinged. In the best possible sense of that word.”
And I am. I am. I absolutely am. Completely unhinged.

And it feels like freedom. Unhinged is one of the many words we use to call people crazy but it is most often applied to women. It has a soupcon of benevolent sexism in it – as if the person using it is minutes away from calling the funny farm. It also tends to be deployed to dismiss a woman expressing an opinion. The Republican Senators call Kamala Harris unhinged when she calls them on their bullshit. Elizabeth Warren gets called unhinged for telling truths on the regular. Maxine Waters’ incredibly calm “reclaiming my time” moment also earned her an unhinged label, despite the logical, measured way that moment evolved. There’s something about “unhinged” that suggests that if the person would just fall in line, just climb back into the slots of a door hinge, all would be well. “Just calm down, little lady, you catch more flies with honey. Why don’t you smile more? We’ll just line up these hinges for you and you’ll be back in your place in no time.”

I keep thinking of something that Rebecca Traister pointed out in Good and Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women’s Anger – and that is the language overlap of madness. That is – to be mad can mean being angry or crazy. And, really, it’s both. Because if a woman is angry, she is seen as crazy. Madness (that is, anger) in women is seen as madness (that is, craziness.) Men’s anger is seen as cathartic – the cleansing wind that gives us noble revolutions. Women’s anger is seen as madness no matter how righteous the cause.

After all these years of being hinged, strapped in, appropriate, self-contained, I have released myself. I am unhinged. The straps with which I kept myself within the proper bounds have fallen away and I have let go of a wide range of behaviors and norms that I just don’t care about living up to anymore. I realize that all this makes me look unhinged and I find that rather than being worried about it, I am delighted by that perception. I suspect that the line between crazy and free is much more narrow than we like to think. Maybe crazy just means refusing to accept society’s unjust rules. I know that if I were living in the Victorian age, I’d have long ago been locked up for hysteria. (Whether it would be my novel reading, or my anger that would get me put away, I can’t be sure.)
If I were feeling the way I’m feeling now in the middle ages, I would have long ago been burnt at the stake.

Non-compliance is dangerous. To those who are attempting to re-invigorate the patriarchy, women who feel like me are nothing but trouble. I am un-hinged, non-compliant, unbought, unbossed, undone and free.

After all those years of keeping it together, I have been set free. To some, that freedom looks like madness. A free woman may well be unhinged but I think that’s a compliment. I take it as one. But I also no longer really care what anyone else thinks. I’m free. That’s it. You can’t strap me in, hinge me down and you can’t convince me to do it to myself anymore either.

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Every podcast features a song at the end. Some of those songs are now an album of Resistance Songs, an album of Love Songs, an album of Gen X Songs and More. You can find them on Spotify, my websiteReverbNation, Deezer and iTunes

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