Barbarism


Weakness and Women

While watching Live Nude Girls Unite! I had some unformed thoughts. Here goes:

Sex workers: Victims but resilient, perhaps unready to immerse themselves in the utmost of pain (but that takes time and is painful), covering up the wound instead of exploring it in an earnest early attempt to reconcile themselves to a part of their pain. Admirable.

Victimhood: Feeling small and weak, romanticizing weakness. Unsatisfied hunger. I remember back with Blankety-Blank (the boy who first broke my heart; well, not the original heartbreaker, I’m only reaching as far back as 2005), I always thought and hoped he’d appreciate my martyrdom, my sacrificing myself for him, my metaphorical peeing over myself in a wedding dress (if I were Maggie Gyllenhaal’s character in the climactic woman-shows-strength-through-self-flagellation scene in Secretary). Never. Like the subtitles over the scene where the bobble doll geisha can’t escape the screen in the maudlin but effective Indigo Girls “Galileo” video: “I was timid and subservient (beat) I didn’t go far.”

Rihanna loves way the way it hurts, Lady Gaga chokes on rosary beads and gets force fed vodka-resembling drink; Sarah Jessica Parker’s adorable, sharp and open character in that Helen Hunt-accompanying 1985 movie Girls Just Want to Have Fun is casually abused by army father and angry, self-pitying Joey Lawrence-resembling boyfriend. And the understanding we’re supposed to glean from all this offhand cruelty which is presented as insubstantial is that GIRLS (who–embodied by SJP and awesome Helen Hunt–are totally full, passionate, vulnerable and human) aren’t capable or serious, they just want to have FUN.

I dislike seeing pop stars, female protagonists and celebrities as victims. I dislike that many such women (to some self-aware-or-not degree) romanticize hurting themselves: Suffering under the heels of lovers and fathers, suffering for their men and cutting, starving, dying internally, non-introspectively, silently, while the men (equally non-introspectively) get to externally punch walls and beat shit up and break and actively hurt.

I wouldn’t be so naïve as to blame all this indignation I feel over women’s roles on the wistful 19th century novels I read as an adolescent; they don’t account for all the feelings that bubble up seeing women in burkas and women in wigs and heavy stockings, matching outfits, scared. Weakness, subservience, genuflection, “godliness” through acquiescence. It never got me anywhere. It never made me feel any better. It never made anyone like me more to be less and less of a person and more of a speck.

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