Thursday, January 25, 2007

Glorious high end novelty print circle skirt from Vintage Lucy. Trompe l’oeil basket weave and here and there a bow with a few sparkles. If you can wear a 27” waist and have $85, go get it.

So what have I done for the revolution today? Let’s face it: I’m the shame of the brigade. For starters, I ate and drank things out of plastic containers. Though I dutifully separate them, do they really get recycled? I don’t feel confident about that. Then I encouraged fantasies about moving back to Los Angeles. These sprouted tendrils that curled dreamily about. Of course it was an idealized L.A., all hibiscus, birds of paradise, and swimming pools overlooking the Valley, not the actual place of gridlock and smog. I have withdrawn into LA-la land. I have swathed my anger in a layer of gauze. And I’m projecting movies from my own personal cinema on it. Visions of lounging on rooftops in Morocco. Climbing the Pyramid of the Sun in Mexico City. Escape. Staying in a hotel with cottages made out of wine barrels. Or drain pipes. Or winning the Ito En haiku contest (you have ‘til February 28th 2007 to polish your 17 syllables and send them off). Magic. Wind blowing through flea market in Clignancourt causing all manner of novelty prints to quiver on their hangers. Um, file that under Concupiscence.
What is happening to I’m Mad as Hell Week? Have I used all my energy just keeping warm and hauling my tuchus from work to rehearsal and back again? Well, yes. A little SAD? That too. It does take a lot of energy to articulate your rage. The problem is where to attack first. And I’m so bundled in faux fur I can barely keep my bag on my shoulder. Not exactly my best fighting stance. (Dontcha know I’ve got a sequined gold belt in Drunken Samsara style Kung Fu.)

It has been said (and often) that as a dancer I am too feminine. And, ye gads!, it’s true. Where’s my grit, my gravitas, my general pain-in-the-assness? What happened to cause the stultifying prettification of my movement? I mean, besides the 20 years of training, and my goddamn short girl world view, best summed up as: “I’m little, don’t break me!” Oy.

The marvelous Twisty Faster, who blames the patriarchy, has oft written that femininity must be done away with. Absolutely, I say, while selecting a cocktail ring to match my ensemble. Laura Kipnis, whose work I know only through Slate reviews (though I’d like to read more of her) has written very cogently on this so indulge me as I quote at length:
“Femininity is a system that tries to secure advantages for women, primarily by enhancing their sexual attractiveness to men. It also shores up masculinity through displays of feminine helplessness or deference. But femininity depends on a sense of female inadequacy to perpetuate itself. Completely successful femininity can never be entirely attained, which is precisely why women engage in so much laboring, agonizing, and self-loathing, because whatever you do, there's always that straggly inch-long chin hair or pot belly or just the inexorable march of time. (Even the dewiest ingénue is a Norma Desmond waiting to happen.)”
That last line in particular just gives me a frisson of delight. Not only is it well-made, but it should be stenciled onto banners to be carried at the barricades. To the rest I cry: hear, hear!
However, and I’ve probably already written this somewhere, femininity is a survival strategy.
Every woman (or any person who identifies as a woman) has chosen shards of it to use as a weapons or a shields.

Comments on this article were interesting too. One even claiming that “sometimes gender roles can be separate AND equal”, which by using the terminology of apartheid invalidates itself. A more thoughtful commenter, Rotiveros, asks: “Is it possible though to imagine a femininity that is independent of male privilege? Kipnis I suspect would say that the question is moot, because femininity has always only existed as inferiority.”

I guess that has been one of my (many!) crusades, to explore a femininity of my own that is not just the subterfuge of the captive, but an expression of delight. And for that I’ve looked to drag queens. But I’ve wanted it all entirely without the male gaze. Idealistic, I know. And it ain't doing nothing for the revolution.

To be continued.


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