Songs for the Struggling Artist


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.

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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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