Monday, June 29, 2009
Here's the deal: I have to list three things for which I'm grateful, and pass the award on to bloggers who inspire me.
I was tagged by Renegade Evolution, so here we go...
1) Lemonade. it's almost better than beer.
2) Microsoft Flight Simulator X. for reasons not even I understand yet.
3) the Mei Tai, Asia's gift to the world of motherhood.
inspired, loosely, by ruminations on the Farrah-do, and the meaning of hair on women's heads, and the thread over at Nine Deuce's -
lots of noise about semen on the face, the assumed inherent misogyny thereof, so forth. and hilarity ensues, as usual. (my participation in the thread is towards the end.)
But I got to thinking about other stuff that is considered to be humiiiating by some people in some contexts, but not by others in other contexts. and I thought about women who cut their hair or shave their heads.
I thought about girls in the 1920s who "bobbed" their hair, and felt all liberated.
then I thought about an old picture I saw once showing a French woman whose head had been shaved because she was considered a Nazi collaborator.
then I thought about Sinead O'Connor and her rocking baldness.
then I thought about shaving my own head, or having a friend help me shave my head, because summer is hot and my hair is totally out-of-compliance anyway and it's not doing me any favors.
what's this all got to do with bukkake? semen on the face?
well, see, let me clumsily try to explain myself.
we got women who are on-purpose cutting their hair short, or off, in order to say "fuck you" to someone - fathers, boyfriends, The Patriarchy, whatever. We got women whose hair has been forcibly cut off as punishment. And we got women who just don't want hair anymore. the net visual effect is pretty much the same - women who are bald, or as close to bald as makes no real social difference. But Sinead O'Connor is not the same, in relation to her bald head, as the alleged Nazi collaborator, is not the same as a short-haired flapper, is not the same as me. (and, you know, there are a bajillion other reasons and situations for women to be bald, obviously, now that I think about it.)
Insofar as a bald head is a symbol of something, the meaning of that symbol changes with time, and situation, and with the people involved.
yeah yeah yeah semen on the face I'm getting there.
does a bald (or practically bald) head always mean shame and degradation and humiliation? obviously not. sometimes it can mean the EXACT OPPOSITE. sometimes it can mean pretty much nothing.
I think it's the same for semen on the face. haHA! see, I got there.
in some contexts, I think it's seen as evidence that nonconsensual sex has occurred. See, right there! on her FACE! Evidence! and in those cases where nonconsensual sex has occurred, well obviously there's a problem, for crying out loud! yes, yes, it's the misogyny, stupid - I get that.
but when such activity is, so to speak, woman-led, I can see where semen on the face, despite its similarity to evidence of nonconsensual sex, is uncoupled from shame and humiliation and degradation. and I think the shame and humiliation and degradation can be replaced with, well, just about anything - pride, amusement, satisfaction, indifference, whatever.
I mean, if resisting or reframing or rejecting social messages is impossible, then Sinead O'Connor could not have shaved her head as a protest against the tyranny of beauty, and made her rockin' baldness a thing of pride and striking beauty itself; and flappers of the '20s could not have hacked off their "crowning glory" with reckless aplomb; and I myself could not rid myself of the horrendously unattractive and unmanageable wild animal that lives on my head, without all being considered "the same as" a punished, humiliated, degraded traitor.
which is obviously bullshit.
Sunday, June 28, 2009
so there's an epidemic of famous people keeling over dead. and whenever that happens people fall all over themselves to be the first to say something nice about the deceased. it seems to be a ritual that people need to do, maybe by way of making sure that people don't trash-talk you at your own funeral, on that fateful day? I don't know. insofar as I totally don't expect anyone to even notice I'm dead, I don't feel obliged to eulogize, so much.
but it's way cool to talk about Dead Farrah, and I'm nothing if not cool, um, right?
Heart says this:
Your domestic violence work was just the beginning of all you gave and accomplished in your life. You were a voice for the voiceless, an inspiration to suffering women everywhere, in their homes, struggling in the criminal justice system or in prison. Thank you for the stand you took on behalf of battered, raped women. Thank you for believing us. Thank you for your amazing performance in which you shed your glamorous image in favor of identifying with those of us who have been beaten, battered, and raped by men who said they loved us. Thank you for all you have given to and for women.
which is all very nice. and apparently Dead Farrah did lots of charity work for domestic violence survivors, was on the Board of Directors for a big old non-profit helpful helping agency, and that's great. And The Burning Bed was indeed a compelling piece of TV melodrama, no question. I mean, holy cow, who didn't get all emotional and worked-up by the end, right? There's no better example of the genre, and it was way ahead of its time.
oh, and it was the very first television program to have that helpful "if you have a problem with blah blah meow, call one-eight-hundred-meow-meow-blah, and get help" thing. so also great.
but as I'm always wont to do, because I am the most hypersensitive self-centered narcissist EVER, I'm moved to wonder - hey Dead Farrah, what have you done for me lately?
Heart lists everything Dead Farrah gave to women - you know what you gave me, Dead Farrah?
you gave me a complex, lady. that's what you gave me!
so she hit it big in, like, 1976. I was about eight.
I knew that Farrah Fawcett was important, and it seemed to have something to do with boobies and hair and smiling and boys liking you. it made me uneasy.
that poster? with the red bathing suit? it was everywhere that year. I took one look at it, in all its glossy perfection, and knew I would never ever be that, get there, attain that. I was short, frizzy and speckled, she was tall, blonde and perfect. it was my first experience with unrealistic beauty standards, and I remember being really angry about it. I and my little friends mocked her viciously:
"hi! (fake smile) I'm Drippy Faucet-Minors! (fake smile, exaggerated hand gesture to imitate hair flip) Boys like me! (head tilt, fake smile, giggle)"
get it? "drippy faucet" 'cuz, Fawcett? Majors-minors? hardeharhar. yeah, we were the height of sophisticated witty mature comedy stylings. because we were eight.
but consider the whole poster thing: here is a picture of a woman advertising her sexual appeal, bent and folded and twisted into a strange contortion of availability - her legs say no no no, but her eyes say yes yes yes! she's the very definition of "sex symbol" - a woman who profited handsomely by showing off her body for the approval of patriarchy, yeah?
and she's Feminist Farrah Warrior Princess, now. 'cuz Burning Bed.
but I'm just thinking on this - is it still okay, now that we've named this new saint of feminism, to critique the high-heel-wearer, the hair-do-er, the lipstick-user, the man-pleaser-in-any-dimension, on the assumption that their behavior is not sufficiently feminist and encouraging of misogyny?
I mean, can you GET any more, er, "sparklepony" than Farrah Freaking Fawcett?
and yet somehow she managed to rise above her blatant toadying to The Man to become America's Next Top Feminist, Posthumous.
(good thing I'm not expecting anyone to say anything nice about me once I'm dead!)