Songs for the Struggling Artist


In Which I Read that Dragon Book, Part Two

This is part two of my journey of reading When Women Were Dragons. If you want to know why I’m reading this, catch up with my questions around plagiarism here. If you want to read Part One, start here. And I’m just a fountain of spoilers so skip this one if you’re wanting to be surprised by anything that happens in this book.

Now PART 2

September 4

I can really feel how Barnhill is a children’s book writer. I’m actually surprised this book is being sold as one for adults. The narrator is a child, looking at this event from a child’s eyes. Sure, there’s some violence and a lot of child abandonment but have you read work for children lately? Some of it is quite dark.

I mean – listen – maybe she really means to be writing for adults and just can’t help making work that feels like it’s for children. That happens to me all the time so I’m sympathetic. I make some piece that I feel very clear is not for children and then someone comes to see it and says, “This would be great for kids!” But I do wonder why an award-winning children’s book author wasn’t sold in the market she has already succeeded in.

I also feel like I’d have a lot more grace for this book if it were a children’s book. Or YA! YA is full of dangerous stuff these days. Why isn’t this a YA book?

Anyway – I read more than I meant to last night, mostly because I was hoping for something to pop out at me that I might tell you about here in this accounting. My feeling that this is really a children’s book is all I have, I guess.

September 5

The kid in the book is now thirteen and has lost her friend due to a homophobic panic from her father. It would appear that he also evicted his daughter’s friend’s grandparents. This father better get eaten or immolated by the end of this book is all I got to say.

So far the only satisfying dragon moment was in a brief list of dragon activity where some dragons seem to have eaten some asshole strike-breakers.

This section of the book was not particularly compelling but it did make me very nervous about my own work. I also have quite a bit of after the fact reporting of dragon events. I worry that my own work could feel as dry and perfunctory as the list of dragon related incidents in this book did to me. I hope these sorts of moments in my work are full of the person who is reporting them so that it’s not just the report but the human need to share things that have happened to them. I think I’ve done that but one can never be too sure. So for a moment that chapter felt like a cautionary tale.

If my library app is accurate (and I concede that it hardly ever is) then I’m not yet halfway through this book, though I AM on Chapter 19.

September 6

So it turns out the girl’s mother hadn’t turned dragon for the two months she was away – she just had regular old cancer, which then kills her when the protagonist is fifteen. Then the father turns out to be an even bigger piece of shit than he was before (and he was a GIANT piece of shit before) by moving the kids to an apartment to live on their own while he moves his pregnant mistress into their house. Maybe this is why this is not a children’s book?

I don’t know. I know it’s the 50s but could a father really get away with abandoning his kids like that then? The dragons I can accept. Children living like kept mistresses on their own in a shitty apartment stretches the bounds of credulity somehow. Oh, I sure hope somebody gets eaten soon!

September 7

Ok – finally, we get someone who is a dragon who wants to do dragony things – and it is a child.

I suppose one of the things I’m finding frustrating about this book is that the narrator is on the outside of a dragon experience and is judgmental of dragons and is learning about them through censored experiences. It’s just – frustrating? I wanna go flying through the air with dragons; I don’t want to experience the gaslighting around them. Just put me on a dragon’s back or something already. The doctor’s description of being on mic with one in the air as she transforms is not enough.

September 8

I suppose you have to make a guy a real big villain so we’re chomping at the bit to have him set on fire – but I’ve been rolling my eyes at how awful this father is. I suppose it’s because he’s awful in a cartoonish way. So despite having shown some tenderness to his wife, he just seems like a cartoon bad guy. Set him on fire already, dragon child! I mean, I know it’s the 50s and he feels like a king and doesn’t see what he’s doing but…I don’t know. It’s like – Bret Kavanaugh is an awful human. He’s petulant and whiney and he felt entitled not only to sexually assaulting women in his youth but also to his position on the Supreme Court. And yet – he is a human man, not a cartoon villain. He has done terrible things and if a dragon ate him, I wouldn’t complain but I also understand him. I grew up with boys like him. I know where he’s coming from. I do not know where this kid’s dad is coming from. It feels like the answer is: The 50s! But that’s not enough.

It’s really not that hard to make people want to have a dragon turn a person into toast. They’re not real people. They don’t have to be extra awful for us to feel like he’s asking for it.

I feel like I’d prefer the alternate world in this book, the world where the dragon ladies are flying around having a fabulous time in the mountains or wherever. Instead, we’re stuck in the world that was so terrible, they felt like they had to leave it. Take me to the dragons instead!

September 9

So far in this book, the only anger we ever see is almost entirely misplaced. We saw the mother slap her daughter when she was mad at….the dragons? Her husband? I don’t remember but her kid had nothing to do with it.

Now we have the kid getting very mad at the librarian for talking about her aunt and dragons but she’s not really mad at the librarian deep down. Then she also gets mad at her kid sister/cousin for no reason.

I know people do this but it is not very satisfying to read about. I just want to yell, “You’re all mad at the wrong people! Open your eyes and get it together! Call on the dragons already!”

I have little patience with this.

September 10

Things are kicking into gear with the dragon professor and the heroic librarian. Now, if you’ve listened to my audio book for kids, you’d know that I am a particular fan of librarians so I don’t object to this librarian being amazing. I will say, though, that she seems to be a little too heroic. Like she manages to do EVERYTHING? She’s the star witness of the HUAC committee, the benefactor and head of a whole library system, the leading sponsor of dragon research and she has time to look out for a little girl? I mean. I’m down with dragons existing but superhuman librarians feels like a bridge too far.

The kid now seems to be starting to accept the dragon reality so I suspect I’m going to start liking this book a little more once she actually gets into dragons. It’s like, you chose a book about trains and they spend the first half of the book denying the existence of trains while hinting at them just out of view every so often.  Just get to the trains already! That’s what I’m here for!

September 11

One thing that is driving me absolutely bonkers about this book is the withholding of information. We have a protagonist who seems to want to know what is going on – and in her youth, she is presented with a trove of information and explanations. She has letters written to her, an explanatory pamphlet and the correspondence of her aunt, who she was so curious about.

And this girl puts this stuff in a secret place, doesn’t read it and promptly forgets about it. When she finally remembers it, many years later, she goes to get it and ONCE AGAIN does not read it. Maybe I just don’t understand how a person could not read their own correspondence when it has been explicitly written to them and would provide answers I was seeking? Again, I find dragons easy to accept but to introduce a plot device with a box full of answers and not open it? Come on. Just discover the box later or something. Why you gotta tell me about the documents in the secret compartment if you’re just going to leave them there? It’s very frustrating. Like, I was so relieved when the protagonist finally remembered they were there and went to get them – but then she didn’t read them again?! And then later – when she sees her dragon aunt, her dad gives the kid a box for her from her mom and guess what she doesn’t do AGAIN?! Good lord. What is this child’s problem? She can’t open things??! She can mother her cousin/sister and take college courses in secondary school but she can’t open a goddamn letter or a goddamn box?

Gee whiz. This book is due in two days and I’m at 70%. I could knock it out but maybe I should follow the protagonist’s example and just not open it.

September 12

I am astounded by how this writer has taken the teeth out of dragons. She’s given them handbags and knitting. She has them help out at church picnics. They seem to be just a bunch of nice mid-western ladies who happen to have taken dragon form. Their main gesture is to put their hands /paws to their hearts. Blech. I would prefer to read about one of them tearing a man apart with her talons. But instead, I’m reading about a bunch of nice dragons chaperoning the high school prom. The protagonist’s date seems like a real tool – maybe they’ll burn him up by the end of the night? A girl can dream.

September 13

The book was returned to the source (Queens Public Library) last night. Digital copies just disappear, really. You can’t just hold onto a copy and pay the fine later like you could with a physical copy. So – I think I got to about 75%? And there are now 34 people ahead of me in line for this book. It’s so popular, my library bought two more copies. This is both good and bad news for me. Good, because if dragon content is becoming popular, if people like women turning into dragons, they might end up at my artistic door at some point. Bad, because it’ll be months before I finish reading this book that makes me so mad.

The thing is, I’m realizing maybe folks just aren’t ready for a story where women have genuine power. I’m also reading Nightbitch right now and there’s such a strong prohibition to that protagonist feeling her own rage that she turns into a dog. In that form, she is able to indulge her fury and tear into meat the way she wants to. I have not heard anyone talking about this book but I like it loads more than When Women Were Dragons, despite them sharing an annoying special interest in mothers. But still – all these stories are within the confines of continuing to live in the current messed up patriarchy. It’s possible that a lot of people are not ready to imagine how that might turn around. Ah well. I mean, I am. And so are a handful of people I know. But –

Anyway – temporary conclusion until I move up 35 places in line – I do not think Barnhill stole my idea. Or if my work was somehow her source material, she completely missed the point. Knitting dragons!?! Church picnic dragons?! Pah. Excuse me while I go set something on fire.

You know what this dragon is NOT doing? Knitting. Not that I don’t think knitters are bad-ass. I just – prefer my dragons more dangerous.

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Context Is Everything: A Gen X Look at The Lost Daughter

There’s a little bit of a conversation happening in feminist circles around the movie The Lost Daughter, written and directed by Maggie Gyllenhaal. I felt it was my duty, as a feminist on the internet, to watch it. I didn’t really think I’d have anything to SAY about it necessarily but I like to be informed and it turns out I do have something to say. Funnily enough my thoughts are probably more Gen X related than feminist related, though. I suppose at its heart it’s Gen X feminism that’s gotten under my skin.

The movie takes place in the more or less contemporary moment (though not precisely, as it is a covid-less world) and Olivia Coleman plays a 48 year old woman. When the movie flashes back to her twenty something self, it is to about twenty years ago, though it has a vague sense of being in the 90s. The character wears foam earphones, like back in the day. The song she tells us she loves is the Gen X anthem of Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer.” The context of the film says, “This is a Gen X woman.” But very little of this makes sense. Like, I guess a Gen X English woman could go crazy for “Livin’ on a Prayer” but it’s odd. It would mean something in real life. I don’t know what it would mean exactly but whatever it means doesn’t add up to the person in the movie.

Look, I, like the character, am also 48 so I may be overly tuned in to the specifics of this woman who is meant to be my age – but I would be awfully surprised to meet a woman my age who grew up in Leeds, became a passionate and respected academic translator of English poetry into Italian AND her favorite song was “Livin’ on a Prayer.” I’d need a whole movie to explain how that could be. Honestly.

Also – one of the central events of the movie  is just so weird and out of generational character that it would need another movie’s worth of explanation to make it make sense. In the movie we learn that Coleman’s character has two daughters in their mid to late 20s – which means she had them in her early 20s. This would be extremely unusual for a highly educated ambitious Gen X woman. Certainly there are Gen X women who had their kids young, no doubt. But it is incredibly rare in a character like this one. Most Gen X academic nerds would wait years to have their kids. And to have TWO kids so young? Again, as an ambitious academic? One, I can buy. That’s a mistake, probably. Two, seems crazy. Like, I need an explanation for it, or I’m going to spend the whole movie confused. Which I did.

Anyway – (and this is a spoiler so skip ahead to the * towards the end if you want to be surprised)

SPOILER FOLLOWS:

 

– when her kids are five and seven she leaves them, whole cloth, never to be seen again until three years later. The movie tries to make this understandable but it’s just – weird.

As my Gen X friend, with whom I discussed this, said, “There WAS child care in the 90s.”

Like – leaving their kids is just not something I’ve ever heard of anyone doing.  Tempted? Sure. Kids’ll make you crazy, I’m given to understand – But to just leave? When divorce, joint custody, childcare and blended families are all options that are on the table? She leaves her family for a rewarding sexy professional life. Seems like a nice life she’s leaving them for but the choice is super weird. Gen X moms know how to work it out. We grew up with working moms. The work/life question really isn’t this giant a conflict for Gen X moms. It still sucks. Don’t get me wrong. But it’s not so extreme that leaving for years at a time makes any sense. Our conflicts in this arena are much more subtle, more nuanced. We didn’t have to flee the people we love to have a life of the mind.

The thing that seems important to recognize is that this film is based on a book by Elena Ferrante – who writes about the specifics of Neapolitan women in earlier eras with razor sharp analysis. I haven’t read The Lost Daughter – but I’ve read her Neapolitan quadrilogy, with which it would seem to have a lot in common. I’d imagine they are set in similar time periods. I assume, from the structure of this film, that the book takes places decades ago. I know from the articles about it that it is concerned with both the mom character’s Neapolitan background and the bits of that she shares with her fellow tourists in the group. I assume that the main character, Leda, is of an entirely different generation. I can probably even guess which one. Based on the choices she makes and the desperation she feels and how limited her scope is – I’d say she’s a contemporary of Sylvia Plath or Anne Sexton. These are women so backed into corners they feel they have no other choice but to stick their heads in the oven or permanently walk out the door.

These choices are perfectly readable in a time of extreme oppression. And I’m delighted to realize that the 90s were not a time of extreme oppression. Gen X women did actually have choices in the 90s. If we wanted to study Italian poetry, we did it. It’s not that extreme, actually. So this character just seems like she has a need for some medication and a good therapist, at the very least. This story, as told in the film, makes no sense. But – if I just sort of overlay the events on to say, the 1950s or early 1960s– with a bunch of Neapolitan roughs – it all falls into place. Context is everything.

Let’s do some math. Let’s assume this film is set in this current moment. So – this character is my age, right? Which means she probably graduated from college in 1995. Her eldest child is 25 – so she had her two years after she finished undergrad so that’s 1997. The character is a serious academic so she must have gone on to get a masters, probably a PhD. Did she get pregnant while she was in grad school? Probably. Unless she’s supposed to be in grad school at the point when we first meet her? And that old guy is her advisor? I don’t think so – because a well regarded scholar wouldn’t be citing the work of a grad student. She’s published somewhere. She had her two kids somewhere in the middle of getting a PhD and getting published. I’m not saying that’s not possible – but it is pretty unlikely in the late 90s. At the point when we meet this character, her kids are 5 and 7 which means it’s around 2002.

This Gen X mom abandoned her kids in 2002. It’s not 1957. It’s 2002. There WAS childcare in 2002. Again, not great childcare- but childcare. Also, there were cell phones. I got one in 2002 and I was very late to the party. AND – as my friend pointed out there was feminism. There was serious feminism. I’m sorry but you couldn’t be a serious scholar in this era without some encounter with feminism. It’s a whole field of scholarship and no Comparative Literature scholar could get through academia without a serious grounding in it. I’m not saying every academic in this era was a feminist but to not have any relationship to those issues at all in this era? Sorry. No way. You’re either in the game or you’re Camille Paglia and no one’s going around just translating a bunch of male poets in 2002 with no awareness of what feminist scholarship would have to say about it.

But set in the right context – in, say, an era that had problems “that had no name,” like what Betty Friedan was talking about, and when second wave feminism was really just strapping on its boots, sure – it all would make total sense. We would, in fact, root for a character to get out in that context. This character would be a singular person up against the tide of her culture and her time and we would have her back.

I mean – the thing is, both feminism and childcare had been around for decades by the time this character leaves her kids. A lot of Gen X kids were raised on both of those things. Many of our mothers were feminists. Many of them were working mothers who sent us to daycare. Our parents got divorces when things didn’t work out. And it was fine. Not a big deal. But this film somehow lives in a world where there are neither Gen X feminists nor Baby Boomer feminists or Millennial or Zoomer feminists for that matter. This is probably because it’s based on a book that takes place so long before.

Do Gen X moms fantasize about leaving their families and disappearing for awhile? I’m sure they do but fantasizing is very different than doing – and the choice to chuck it all, just generationally, doesn’t make sense. I feel like a lot of Gen X moms waited to have kids so we wouldn’t feel the need to abandon them.

 

*SPOILERS COMPLETE

Is the film well done? It is actually. The performances are excellent; Coleman is always amazing and Gyllenhaal has done extraordinary work. I loved how the eroticism of the character’s work was palpable and exciting. There’s an artful quality to it all – but it’s just weird. And not in a good way.

As Nylah Burton said, in Bitch Magazine,

“We need more messy female characters, but “messy female character” does not have to mean illegible female characters. Sometimes the two are mixed up. Confusing the audience about who a character is at their core doesn’t endear us to them or make them feminist heroes;”

Making Coleman’s character specifically Gen X makes things that would have been legible, absolutely opaque. The good news is that this movie makes me see some incredible progress that has been made over the years – that Gen X women are actually more together than I’d have thought.  

I feel like you could MAKE it make sense – with another few hours of story and context and explanation. Just the way I’d need another movie to figure out how a working class Gen X academic woman from Leeds ended up a big fan of Bon Jovi, I need another movie to make this movie make sense. It might be an interesting story but it would take a long time to explain.

I mean, this is a pretty Gen X look. I can’t argue on that point.

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The Women’s Lane

Rebecca Solnit recently posted this essay that Mary Beard wrote back in 2014. It’s about women speaking in public and the ways classical culture was built around telling women to shut up. Also about how that trend has continued.

It’s brilliant for all the reasons Mary Beard is often brilliant but the thing that feels like new information for me is the bit about women generally only being allowed to have a voice on matters that pertain to women. The one exception to the impulse to silence women is when they speak of things that are in their lane. Women are (sometimes) permitted to talk about women’s rights but not about the war.

This makes me think about Phyllis Schlafly. Or at least the Schlafly that was depicted in the (somewhat problematic) TV series, Mrs. America. Schlafly was very interested in foreign policy. One might even call her an expert in it. While I certainly wouldn’t have agreed with her about it, she did seem to know an awful lot about these things. She ran for Congress twice. And lost. But then she gained fame by campaigning against the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). That is, when she started focusing on women’s issues, then folks took notice. (Much to the detriment of American women.)

I’m trying to figure out how this concept of a women’s lane applies to my own writing practice. I haven’t seen a lot of success on any subject, really – but I have seen a relative spike in recognition on subjects related to women, usually some wrong that’s been done to me or to women in general. In other words, I get listened to the most when I’ve been the victim to someone or something. I’ve always assumed that I’m just at my best when I’m fired up about feminist issues but now I’m not so sure. Is my furious writing on women noticeably better than my fired-up writing about artist’s issues or, say, PDFs? I’m not sure it is, frankly.

As a woman who struggles to be heard, to be noticed, to be recognized, I am always alert to what factors might be supporting my visibility and what factors obscure me further. I have often felt that my tendency to write plays about women, with a bald-faced feminist slant, is what has kept me shut out of the pipeline. My sense has been that theatres don’t tend to want to produce overtly feminist work. But this doesn’t square with what I’m learning about this women’s lane. Or does it? I guess, in the theatre, it’s the women’s plays that are explicit about their woman-ness that cross over into the mainstream: The Vagina Monologues, ‘Night Mother, Crimes of the Heart, Uncommon Women.

Now that I think about it, this does help me to understand something that has often felt mysterious to me. How did a play like The Vagina Monologues break through when so much of American Theatre is so hostile to women and women’s work? How was it that theatres put on seasons of almost exclusively men, and also The Vagina Monologues? It’s very logical, I realize now. You cannot get more in the women’s lane than The Vagina Monologues. It’s a kind of apotropaic magic, a spell against feminist criticism. You put on The Vagina Monologues – which is cheap to produce and markets itself and no one can excuse you of sexism for at least a few years. It is the perfect balance for your Mamet season. Most theater companies would rather produce The Vagina Monologues many times over than to produce a woman’s play about something not particularly womany.

Maybe I just need to write a play called The Woman Woman. I mean, The Women is a fabulous (and very successful) play from the 30s. Maybe it’s really just a matter of laying out the category in the title? It’s something to consider. Look forward to my upcoming trilogy: The Woman Woman, Girls and Women and Girls and Ladies in Ladyland. It can’t be so simple, can it? Honestly if this worked, I’d change so many titles in a flash.

My play about Medusa could be called Girls Getting Stoned or I could just rename any old play Women’s Bodies. Or Boobs. My next play is now called Boobs.  

This is an illustration from Oscar Wilde’s Salome. If he was a woman, he’d just have to call it Boobs.

This post was brought to you by my patrons on Patreon.

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Tricksy Feminists

In college, we made a show called Roar! The Women’s Thing! Live Girls On Stage! which I started thinking about after reading Fleishman Is in Trouble.

I was just going to write a quick little review of Fleishman Is in Trouble for Goodreads but then I started thinking of that show and what we were trying to do with it, which was going to need some explaining, and then I started thinking more about the novel, which began to make me mad and voila! – blog post.

I’ll start with this show. I made it during a guest semester I took at a state university. I’d spent three semesters at Sarah Lawrence College and while my education was aces, I was longing for a social life, so I decided to take a break from my progressive elite education and go to some parties (as well as classes, sure) in Virginia for a semester. That transition was a kind of a feminist wake up call. I’d gotten used to a place where feminism was a default position and I was absolutely shocked by the retrograde patriarchy still in place at this state college. I joined a rebel feminist group and we decided to make the show, to give the place a real consciousness raising because whooo boy, did it need one! We put “Live Girls On Stage” in the title because we were worried about preaching to the choir and we hoped we’d bring in a few frat bros by suggesting we were a burlesque show rather than a feminist collective. We thought we were pretty clever. We put paper dolls of Barbie dolls on our posters. We thought that we’d change the world with or little feminist variety show. I’m both very proud and very embarrassed by this venture now. I’m bringing it up because of this little Live Girls trick. Did it work? Of course not. Though we did sell out, which was better than most of my subsequent feminist work. But I’m thinking about it because I feel like there’s something similar at work in Fleishman Is in Trouble.

I read this book because it was advertised to me on the Guilty Feminist podcast. It was billed as an hilarious feminist novel. That’s catnip for me. Of course I was going to read an hilarious feminist novel.

You may, at this point, not be surprised to learn that I found this book to be neither hilarious nor particularly feminist. They Live Girls Onstaged me and I fell for it. I don’t blame the Guilty Feminist podcast. They need advertising dollars as much as anyone and I can imagine how this happened. Someone on the marketing team thought this book was kinda feminist and googled all the places they might be able to place some feminist ads and the job was done. But, oh, oh, did I feel like a frat boy who thought he’d come for burlesque and got a bunch of show tunes and sketches instead. I’m going to give you some spoilers now – or really a spoiler. One might call it the twist of the book. If you want to skip these next seven paragraphs to avoid this reveal, please feel free. I think knowing what’s coming might actually improve the experience of reading it but…it’s up to you.

The book begins with the story of a man who is in the process of divorcing, dating and doctoring. It is a bit how I imagine a Philip Roth or John Updike novel. (I’ve never read either as I am not at all interested.) It’s the story of a wealthy man on the Upper East Side of Manhattan who often feels he is not wealthy enough. He describes himself as a hero of a dad and his ex-wife as a useless soul-less social climber, who disappears on him. It’s all narrated by his female friend, who used to work at a men’s magazine so she’s practiced at getting into the heads of men.

Then, about three quarters of the way through, the narrator of the book runs into the ex-wife and we get a sense of the time-line we just experienced from her perspective. Surprise! She’s not the monster her husband made her out to be! The book finishes with a kind of alliance between the women and a little rant about how bad marriage and middle age can be for women and then the narrator takes a taxi back to her husband, from NYC to the suburbs of NJ.

I THINK this is being marketed as a feminist novel because it tricks us into thinking it’s a man’s story at the top and then TRICKSY! It turns out to be a woman’s. And the guy who seemed like a sort of good guy is kind of a dirtbag. SURPRISE! You’re NOT seeing Live Girls Onstage like you thought! It’s a consciousness raising instead! It’s Tricksy Feminism, trying to convert the unconvertable. If those frat boys only knew what it was really like to be a woman, they might not be such sexist pigs!

If we get men to read a story about a man, they’ll keep reading to learn about a woman’s perspective of the same stuff!  We’ll sneak some women’s issues into that Phillip Roth novel! We’ll raise their consciousness without them even knowing! Tricksy!

But the thing is – none of those issues that the woman face are dealt with in a particularly feminist way. None of them ever rallies together with other women to make a change. They deal with sexual harassment and discrimination. They deal with sexist and dehumanizing medical treatment and generally struggle with some old school Simone de Beauvoir Second Sex shit. But no one seems to know that feminism exists. It’s a weird world without any real social movements. It’s a world where someone experiences overt sexism and no one will name it. Feminism isn’t just women having lady problems. It’s a social movement in which people work together to make our world more equitable. This book had nothing to do with that as far as I could see.

For me, the book was mostly largely about rich people on the Upper East Side of Manhattan having a lot of privileged problems. Was it compelling? Sure! It’s very well written so you couldn’t ask for better fiction about the ennui of a particular kind of privileged life. If you want to know about the inner lives of women who choose their pilates classes based on maintaining social ties, look no further. You’ve found your book. Even the women in this book, in the middle of realizing all the betrayals of sexism and such, never get beyond themselves to even consider attempting to make a change. They don’t have a feminist awakening. They don’t decide to organize. They don’t start to examine their own privilege – not their racial privilege, their economic privilege, not their abled privilege, none of it. If there’s any feminism in the book at all (and I’m not convinced there is) it is not intersectional.

I keep thinking of the end of the book when the narrator takes a taxi back to her house in New Jersey from NYC. I think it’s supposed to be a romantic gesture? But all I can think of is how expensive that taxi ride would be and yet it’s not even a whisper of a thought for this character.

Roar! The Women’s Thing! Live Girls On Stage was a sophomoric feminist show. I was literally a college sophomore when I made it. I’m fairly certain we didn’t change anyone’s mind and only expressed a bunch of things that were hard for us (mostly white) ladies. It was a little tricksy but mostly harmless and possibly a fun night out. I feel like Fleishman Is in Trouble is similar. A little tricksy, mostly harmless and a fun read. The trouble is in the marketing. There were live girls on stage but they really weren’t what I had in mind.

I’m about the same age as the characters in this book so I have a sense of the world they grew up in. I know there was feminism in that world, for example and it’s clear to me that characters that don’t have their feminist awakening until their 40s are characters who ignored or rejected feminism in their youth. If you’re not discovering sexism until your 40s, you’re late. You’ve very late. I mean, get to the party when you get to the party but you are very late.

But one thing I know about the party from our collective college years is that in some places, the party was already in full swing, had already evolved and was searching for ways to grow and the party at the other college was just getting into gear. It was in its sophomore stages and needing a jump start. When my friend and I would walk into our Sociology of Women class at that state college, our teacher would say, “Here come the radicals!” And let me just say, as much as I enjoyed that greeting, I was VERY FAR from being a radical then. (“Couldn’t we do it in a nice way? But I don’t want to upset anyone! I don’t want to take anything away from anyone! I just want a teeny tiny itsy bitsy bit of equality, please. If it’s not too much trouble.”) Anyway – what I’m saying is that it’s all relative. At Sarah Lawrence, I was a pretty run of the mill every day sort of feminist, at the state college, I was a radical. Maybe for the characters in Fleishman Is in Trouble, this sort of naming of women’s issues IS radical. It’s first stage feminism. It’s late to the party feminism but fine, I guess.

Yes. This is the poster. Yes I still have it.

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And Now I’m Mad About Curious George

I guess this is a series now.

As you may remember, a short while ago, I was real mad about Kiss Me, Kate when I found out it had been written by a woman but not credited to her as a sole author, even though she was the sole author. Then I learned about the authorship of Curious George. Curious freakin’ George, the kid’s book about the curious monkey. You know you read it as a child. It is one of the most popular children’s books in history. Classic! (Also, problematic and possibly racist – sorry!) And now tell me who wrote it. Your answers will vary according to when you read it. If you read it before or when I did then, like me, you will say, H.A. Rey. Were there photos of him on the back flap to suggest he was like the man in the yellow hat from the book? If there weren’t, I made some some up – because I definitely knew that the author of Curious George was a man.

Surprise! It was a couple. You might know this already if you read it after I did, but married couple Hans Augusto Rey, and Margret Rey fled the Nazis, smuggled out their cute book about George and changed the world of children’s publishing. And here is why they left Margret’s name off the book: because they had “too many women” writing children’s books around then. Gah! It’s infuriating. Hey – they just used H.A’s initials. They couldn’t have ALSO made hers initials? H.A. Rey and M. Rey? Come on. It’s so easy. All they had to do was obscure both their names and genders if they were so worried about it. And listen, I know this was a long time ago – like my experience of Kiss Me, Kate, this decision got made decades ago, in a different time and all that – but holy macaroni, Batman. I just found out that one of the iconic stories of my childhood was co-written by a woman. I found out from a silly Facebook post. Shouldn’t they have put out a bulletin at some point? Like maybe when she finally got her name back on the books? That would have been a good time to talk about the entire erasure of an artist/writer. But, by the way, I cannot find evidence of this moment anywhere. In every mention of her getting her name on the books added, it gets framed as if it was some magical thing that just happened “at some point.” Here’s how she described it, “As Margret told it, “When we first came to America, our publisher suggested we use my husband’s name because the children’s book field was so dominated by women. They thought it would sell better. After a time, I thought, ’Why the devil did I do that?’ so since then my name has appeared also.”” (“Since then” – when is then?!?!)

And, also – it’s not over. Just because they added her name whenever it happened to be, that change was not reflected everywhere. It still isn’t. I did a Google image search of Curious George and only a handful of the book covers I saw had the full “new” credit.

It’s not surprising really because Curious George is likely handed from one generation to the next. We remember the one that was read to us and the stories about it from our youth. There’s a nostalgia there – even for the arrangement of the typeface on the cover. I can picture the font and the placement of H.A. Rey’s name on the bottom of the page.

I’m glad they finally fixed this one but for me it’s too late. Margret Rey got erased and bringing her back takes effort. And I guess I need to be mad about it so I can use it as fuel for my fire to remember the accomplishments of our foremothers. Partly what burns me up about it is the way these erasures lead further generations to think women “didn’t do anything” in history. It makes it seem like we’re always starting from the bottom when it turns out women broke that glass ceiling generations ago – that Margret Rey was a best-selling children’s book author, that Bella Spewack was the author of a wildly successful Broadway show. Dawn Powell was a best selling author whose books went out of print and was forgotten for decades, despite being an absolutely glorious writer and even more successful than her peers F. Scott Fitzgerald and Hemingway in her lifetime. (She’s not one of these authors who were hidden by a husband like the other two; I just included her because I love her like crazy and she was a bit lost to time, probably BECAUSE she was the sole credit.)

This story has a happier ending than Bella Spewack’s as far as I’m concerned because Margret did, in the end, fight for credit and did manage to assure that her name was on the covers of future generations copies of Curious George. This hopefully means that kids encountering this classic story now grow up knowing that it was written by a woman and illustrated by a man. There is progress. And fight for your credit, ladies. Always fight for your credit. We need you to.

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Sexy Jobs

What jobs are the sexiest? Like, if you want a character to be appealing and captivating and sexy, what job do you give them? Let’s say you want them to be at the center of a story – what job do they have? If you want to signal to an audience, “This character is sexy,” what do they do?

Apparently, in Spain, if your main character is a woman, the answer is “modista” – a modista is a seamstress, but not just a seamstress or dress maker, she’s also a designer. I am on my second Spanish period drama which features a modista at the center and it made me start to wonder what the sexy jobs are in our culture. Like – some of them are the same. The actor who plays the modista’s love interest in both shows plays a pilot in one and a war journalist in the other. Those are sexy jobs for men. They are just as popular here as I imagine they are in Spain.

But we don’t put seamstresses in our TV shows. I can’t think of a single American TV show that stars a seamstress. But in thinking about it, I realize that we also don’t make a lot of period dramas that place women at the center. I’m having trouble even thinking of one. If women have jobs at the center of a show in American TV, they’re mostly contemporary. They are nurses or lawyers or writers or doctors.

Certainly I don’t know all the shows there are. There are more and more all the time – but I am thinking of every workplace drama set in the past that I can remember and not one of them is American. (For the record, when thinking of women at work shows, I came up with Bletchley Circle, The Mill and Call the Midwife but these are all BBC shows.)

Anyway – I think I may have worked out a factor of why I am so obsessed with Spanish TV. Almost every show I’ve watched features women at work in the early 20th century. Some of those jobs are sexy (see modista, switchboard operator, chambermaid, novelist, hotel matriarch, amateur detective, secretary) and some are less so (housekeeper, innkeeper, the sexy modista’s stern modista mom). I don’t know that it’s the sexiness of the occupations of these women that interest me or just the fact that I get to watch groups of women at work together.

Because women have largely been left out of history books, I long for stories of women in the past. I found this Ms. magazine article about women’s history chilling. An English teacher tells a group of students, “Wouldn’t it be great if history books had as much information about women as men?” and hears her students say, “But women didn’t do anything.” I mean. They said that THIS Century! Something like twenty years IN to this century! This century – when they absolutely should have been exposed to more inclusive history or read things that haven’t actively excluded women’s contributions. So I find TV that highlights women at work in the past almost irresistible, particularly since the stories we’ve all absorbed from the culture have tried to convince us that women working is a new invention.

Watching women at work in the past scratches an itch for me I didn’t know I had. And yes, I know that period drama is not history but it does tend to expand one’s historical perspective. I know a whole heck of a lot more about Franco’s Spain and its relations with Europe and Morocco than I did before my dipping my toes, via Spanish TV, in those worlds. Outlander may feature time travel through fairy stones but I do know a bunch more about the Jacobite Rebellion and the Battle of Culloden in Scotland than I did before I watched it.

Anyway – if sexy jobs are what get us to tune in to stories about women and particularly about women in the past, I am really all for it. I don’t know what American early 20th Century jobs will be sexy enough for our people but I would like to watch one please. A Rosie the Riveter drama maybe? I mean, it’s a gimmee, right? Women in a factory working together? Does this exist and I just don’t know about it? (I know there’s a Canadian show about this. I would like to watch that, too. I’m gonna need a better International streaming platform, please.)

Meanwhile, I am still very curious about what the sexy jobs are. Male romantic leads tend to be architects and female romantic leads do things like run cupcake or pie shops. But are those sexy? I don’t know. Chime in. What are the sexy jobs? And can we have a TV show about them?

Sexy Dummy

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O God, that I were a man!

The interviewer had asked me about my early career as a classical actor. I was explaining the math I did after a few years of acting wherein I realized how terrible the odds were for me in classical theatre. I’d realized I had little interest in performing in contemporary work and that the jobs in Shakespeare for women were so few that I had really very little chance of continuing to work. Then she asked me, “Do you think it would have different if you were a man?”

I did not hesitate for even a second as I said some variation on “Absolutely. Definitely. No doubt.”

And it’s interesting how this question caught me by surprise. I have written streams of words on sexism in theatre and sexism in Shakespeare. I could lay out structural and institutional bias and break down a host of examples.

But somehow I had never before considered what my life would have been like were I a man. Like, if I were me and I had all the same ambitions, desires, interests, personality – all of it and I just was a man instead. And there is no question that things would have been very different for me if I’d come in with a different gender.

It’s like the story Dustin Hoffman tells about his first encounters with being dressed as a woman to work on Tootsie. After the first test with the make-up and hair designers, he asks them to make him beautiful and they tell him that what was there was as good as it was going to get. He describes becoming very sad at realizing that he would never have talked to the woman version of himself if he’d met her at a party. It wasn’t just that he, as a woman would never have had his opportunities, it’s that she would have been entirely overlooked. It’s a very moving speech. (Unfortunately, the speech is now undercut for me by another story about 17 year old he sexually harassed – but that’s another subject.) I feel a little like I had the reverse experience as Hoffman when the interviewer asked me that question. I don’t think I’d have been Dustin Hoffman – but I bet I could have worked for much longer than I did.

I knew from the beginning that I had a very limited window for working. It’s partly why I was so on fire to do it. The women’s parts in Shakespeare tend to be mostly young women – young wives and love interests. There is very little middle space. Maybe Lady Macbeth, Regan, Goneril, Paulina, Tamora and Emilia. But often they’re played by young women, too. You don’t really graduate from Juliet into something juicy. You age out and hope to play maybe the Queen in Cymbeline? You won’t be the lords, the thieves, the politicians. You won’t be the kings or the emperors or the princes. Men age into these sorts of roles and they are the bulk of the jobs. Maybe a guy gets too old to play Romeo but then he’s Hamlet-age and Macbeth age and then Lear and if not Lear, there’s Gloucester, Wooster, Egeus, Egeon, Claudius ,etc. No such journey awaits women in the classics. You go from ingénue to maybe a queen, if you’re lucky.

I played a fair amount of men in my time. Not just the “pants” roles – the Violas, the Rosalinds, the Imogens – but actual male characters: Poins, Quince, Vernon, Holofernes, Feste. And I was grateful to be able to expand my repertoire beyond being in love.

But I knew if I wanted to play Hamlet, for example, I would have to make that sort of thing happen myself. If I’d been a man, it might have been just as difficult to get someone to see me as Hamlet – plenty of male actors don’t get to play Hamlet either. But their gender would not have been one of the obstacles.

Classical acting is a tricky business no matter what your gender is. The men I know from my time in it have quit in the same numbers as women. They mostly just quit later. They got a few more years in.

The male version of me probably would have moved on to writing and directing just like this lady version of me did – but I suspect he would have had longer to build up his contacts. He’d have been given some pats on the back, gotten some brotherly advice, received some introductions that I never had a shot at.

If he’d started my theatre company, he’d have had some donors lined up or some mentors in the background. He’d have portions of the road paved for him before he ever set off driving on it. I had to build the dirt road and, also, the car.

Let me just state for the record that I am very happy to be a woman and have no desire to trade my gender. But this thought experiment got under my skin in a way that I have not been able to shake.

It is somehow easier for me to look at all the systemic blocks and institutionalized sexism as not personal – to feel like those things have been blocking all of us, not me specifically. But they HAVE blocked me specifically and I find that I envy the man version of myself who would have had a few more years on the boards – who, even if he never got to play Hamlet, would probably have gotten to kill him as Laertes, or be killed by him, as Polonius.

The thing, too, that I find upsetting about my particular experience is that it will never be better for anyone else. If you are a woman who loves classical theatre, it will always be thus. The plays will always have way more men than women. They will always have screwy old fashioned gender roles. There will never be new full exciting roles for women in Shakespeare. We’ve got some great ones. But not a LOT. And it will always be thus. Always.

That frustration led me to write plays, which is ironic given how little interest I had in new plays when I started. But…like me, our theatres are obsessed with Shakespeare. They’d rather produce Hamlet than some new play no one ever heard of.

When I came to grad school, Macbeth was the first show I directed and many people told me how happy they were to be doing Shakespeare instead of all those other plays that no one had ever heard of before. (I showed them. The next year, I directed my own play which, for sure, no one had ever heard of.) We have a major underlying problem in our field. Theatre is in love with Shakespeare and it means there are never enough jobs for women. I also am in love with Shakespeare so I get it. I understand, truly. Ask me to recite a speech, it’s going to be Shakespeare. Partly, it’s that I don’t remember any other ones but also, I love it. I’m guilty, too.

This problem has hit me many times in my positions as a Shakespeare educator as well. I have often been in the fortunate position to introduce young people to their first Shakespeare and when those girls light up with love and tell me how they’ve found THE thing they want to do – I start to worry I’ve not done QUITE right by them.

But this question…this “would it be different if you were a man?” – it has to change. There has to be a future for theatre where it WOULDN’T make a difference.

I don’t know what the answer is. It’s probably a combination of things. Maybe we call a Shakespeare break for a decade. Or increase the numbers of women’s Shakespeare companies. Or increase the funding and profiles of already existing women’s companies. Or just exclusively do reverse gender casting for a while. Or maybe we could, as a society, just really chill out about gender and let the fluidity run through the plays so gender wouldn’t matter at all anywhere.

I want a future where a Shakespeare loving person could have the same opportunities, the same road, no matter their gender.

In the end, Beatrice’s line from Much Ado About Nothing, “O, God, that I were a man!” continues with, “I would eat his heart in the marketplace.” And I guess I feel pretty strongly that if you want to eat a man’s heart in the marketplace, you should be able to do it – even if you’re not a man.

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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.

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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

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Want to help me find hope?

Become my patron on Patreon.

Click HERE to Check out my Patreon Page

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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



Real Talk About Imagination

Real Talk. I am not actually a dragon. I wish I was one. But I’m just a human lady person who is impossibly angry. I am not actually a witch, either. Surprise. I have often dreamed of having such powers but I don’t, in fact, possess any particular skill in magic.

What I do have, though, is a well-practiced imagination and an understanding of the powers of make believe. Sometimes pretending makes things better.

I mean, I have been a rage fountain these last couple of weeks – just spinning around and round, watching rage pour forth from me like a sprinkler. It comes out in situations that do not merit such a response and after a lifetime of being nice and sweet and making things easy for everyone around me, I do not really know how to handle my new rageful reality. Imagination and embodied expression are my only safe outlets. And what’s wild is how it actually works sometimes.

For example, as my friend and I stood talking next to the subway entrance, some man in khaki pants seemed to find us terribly compelling. He walked by us a couple of times and finally started to approach us. We did not stop our conversation or look at him but I opened my hand, made a little whooshing sound and combusted him in my imagination and darned if he didn’t just turn around and walk away. That’s magic.

The thing of it is – now is the time for fierce imagination. It is not going to be possible to free ourselves from the dystopia ahead of us without some really bold and vivid dreaming.

In simply imagining a world wherein I am as powerful as a dragon, wherein the world is re-made with women unafraid to walk down the street at night or anywhere, everywhere, I find it very hard to return peaceably to the world we live in. I cannot tolerate the old stories. I cannot stomach victim blaming. I am newly and freshly furious that women have had to accommodate ourselves to a world that has not seen us a human beings for five thousand years. It’s as if I’ve woken up in new horrible world but I’ve been living here the whole time.

I don’t want to see one more woman raped or murdered on screen. I don’t want to see any more harassment on the street. I don’t want to see a single woman disempowered. I don’t want to watch one more wife in a sitcom get laughed at and dismissed. It feels like the only thing I can tolerate now is some other more imaginative world.

We need our dreamers now. We need our sci fi creators, our afro-futurists, our utopian other worlds. I have no stomach for anything else. I know it is virtually only in our imaginations that women can have real authority or agency or power – but imaginations can turn into reality and can lead to real life transformation. It’s time to get to work with high level imagination.

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 imagine the future?

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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