One Voice in a Million: You Ain’t Takin’ That From Me!

Love this song: Natasha Bedingfield ‘Strip Me’. About finding a voice and nourishing it.

Today I’m sharing with you that I struggle with this feeling sometimes; I’m just one small voice and what can I change?

But I stand up for my one voice, and look to inspiring examples of people whose one voice, whose insistence, whose decisions change things for others. This video from ‘Clevver News’ mentions that Emma Watson in the live action ‘Beauty and the Beast’ film coming out March 17 of this year is interpreting her ‘Belle’as being an active princess. Belle is that way in the cartoon version as well; active. She’s shown running through fields, riding her horse, exploring a castle, evading wolves in the forest, and saving her father. She inspired me growing up. I can’t tell you how many fields I’ve run through, sometimes with the song from the movie in my mind! “I want adventure in the great wide somewhere, I want it more than I can tell!”

The video states that she didn’t want to wear a corset, and that her Belle will be wearing boots rather than the ballet flats worn by the cartoon version. I love that. I’ve always been a boot-wearing girl, ever since I was little. They are just more comfortable for me. While I didn’t perceive the cartoon Belle as wearing a corset, I think it’s an important decision in the live-action film to encourage women and girls to be healthy, not just to cave to expectations. A lot of fantasy films show women in corsets, which influences our culture toward ‘beauty over comfort’ rather than the healthy reverse, comfort over beauty. As well, people who participate in cosplay (or, dressing in costumes worn by particular characters from media) will have a healthier model to emulate.

Natasha Bedingfield’s song likewise asks ‘who am I if you strip away all the outside stuff’ (referencing fashion and makeup through the visuals of the video), and it’s an important question to ask ourselves. It’s crucial to our happiness (as well as to women’s rights) to seek our inner selves and know who we are without all the ‘dressing up.’ It’s vital to be ‘ok,’ as the songwriter asserts she is, without all the trappings.

I think everyone’s ability to choose who they are and how to express themselves is a treasure. Value your own treasure, make the choices that validate you as a person and support your own values.

If I’m too afraid to make a different choice than the popular choice, then I’m not changing anything. However if I make my own choice regardless of what other people are doing or saying is ‘the thing’, then I have power to be me today.

You ain’t takin’ that from me! (and neither am I.)

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Films

I’ve done some film-review posts and this is different. At least, mostly. I am just mining my netflix ‘list’ for films and series that have casts with many women or strong roles for women and which I have liked enough that I would watch again (or in some cases have already watched several times).

 

Star Wars (the Force Awakens) – Ray was so cool! (and ok, its not on netflix yet)

Buffy the Vampire Slayer -have to say though, there is a LOT of sexism and objectification in the series. There is also a lot of countering-sexism, and kicking-butt of those who objectify. Soooo…. I make no claims other than that I like the series anyway. And notice how I didn’t say ‘objectifying women’… unfortunately everyone is objectified in this show– and I mention it because it’s wrong. (fans get the reference? ok.)

Once Upon a Time -SO many strong female roles. It’s incredible. So happy.

Ghost Whisperer -JLH’s character is my favorite.

Populaire -in French. Spunky retro-style film.

Hjørdis -a Danish schoolteacher makes a difference about bullying. Beautiful story.

Cowgirls ‘N’ Angels -can’t remember it all that well.

Rosemary & Thyme -hehehe. (no really, that’s all I have to say)

The Secret of Moonacre -beautiful visuals!

Mona Lisa SmileI reviewed this one. 

Carolina -kinda weird but hey, aren’t we all?

The Last Keepers -Got to believe we are maaagicccck. Just kidding, that song is not in the film at all.

The Addams Family -always.

So there we have it! Watch them if you like. If you have some positive things to contribute, comment below.

Start Doing Things the Way You Want Them Done

This is a bold statement, I realize that, and you have excuses why you “can’t” but I assure you, anything you want to do, you Can do.

Are you one of the people in your organization at work who deals with who is paid what amount? Go in and look at whether there are male and female employees there who are doing the same work. Even-out the pay between them.

Do you want to read books where the default pronoun is ‘she’? As in, “when any human feels they are capable of a task, she will complete that task with confidence” or myriad other examples. So write those books. Write those blog posts.

Do you want to fight rape on a real and personal level? Take reasonable precautions; Don’t invite people over until you know them really well, avoid getting completely intoxicated, and when your friends mention ideas of theirs that you think might put them or you in a dangerous situation, speak up and tell them so! Respect your instincts. Practice speaking up for yourself on all kinds of things, so that you make it a practice of making your needs and intentions clear.

And then my favorite: Do you want to see media that *respects* women? Create it. Create movies that don’t question female power and agency; they exhibit it. Create advertisements (even unofficial ones!) that show healthy women whose features aren’t obscured by makeup and don’t bother to call attention to the fact. Calling attention to something makes it increase, as it is the focus. So create the world as you’d like it. Show these strong and beautiful ideas of yours with confidence and abandon!

And keep it positive.

Caught Sleeping?

From the perspective of relaxed and interested audience, I liked While You Were Sleeping. However, from the perspective of ‘Woman who cares what I think about myself and what other women think about themselves’, there were a few things about it that bothered me.

Do you realize how good your life is? Just take a moment and think about it. You have a place to live? Clothes? Food? Job? Luxury of owning a pet?

Me and my adorable luxury pet

Me and my adorable luxury pet

If you answered ‘yes’ to all of those, you are at least as blessed as the main character (Sandra Bullock’s character, to be exact) and really, you can probably relax! Nothing’s that bad! 🙂 Good news, eh?

So the lead in ‘Sleeping’ is unhappy because she’s un-partnered and she develops this fantasy that she’s going to marry one of the patrons of the subway system where she works. The whole film has to do with marriage and the search for the right marriage, because ‘that’s what she’s missing; a family’. I completely understand. I, too, pine and yearn for partnership. I also recognize that if I’m not happy on my own, partnership won’t fix that. I can be happy on my own without a husband, and not be any ‘less’ of a woman.

She also allows people to believe a lie about her, which is based on a misunderstanding, but would be easily corrected all the same. Her explanation of this is that she didn’t want to hurt them, but also that she so desperately wanted a family. So here we have a heroine who bravely saved a man’s life but doesn’t have the courage to continue to live as a single woman when she’s given the opportunity to have a deceptive relationship instead. Not exactly role-model material, though I will admit it’s a change from the deceptive role in films always being played by men. It’s sort of like the male lead in Penelope; he has some decent motives for his not-great behavior. Despite the faulty archetype being the same (liar gets to win in the end) I almost like that Sandra gets to play a character whose behavior is more traditionally masculine, at least from a filmmaker’s perspective.

Another conundrum the film does not satisfactorily resolve is that she accepts a marriage proposal from a guy who is not necessarily nice to her… he kind of harasses her repeatedly. I wish I could say I didn’t buy it, but the problem here is that I’ve seen it repeatedly, and not just in movie-land. When a person is starved for attention, it can be a real challenge to deny negative attention any berth in your life. It can be hard to say ‘no’ to an offer that you know isn’t quite good enough. There is even a scene where his character points out that he hasn’t treated her that well, and she proceeds to ignore this acknowledgment. There’s forgiveness and then there’s denial; I see her stance in this film as more of the latter, which reflects a certain desperation that plays off the ‘lack of husband’ issue.

So while this film was easy to watch, I could also see where it would be so easy to be ‘caught sleeping,’ and fail to notice the dangerous messages provided in the subtext of the film. In balance, I’d like to encourage women to keep your standards high and accept only treatment that is worthy of you. If other people can’t seem to treat you well, that is THEIR problem and NOT yours. Leave them in your dust. Love yourself. You are worthy.

Wherever you run, there you are: Runaway Bride

So I’ve decided maybe a Julia Roberts marathon is in order. Tonight might be …. Pretty Woman? Mystic Pizza? Erin Brokovich? I really resonate with Julia’s works of art/film.

The take home message for me from ‘Runaway Bride‘ (I will do my best to minimize ‘spoilers’) is that you HAVE TO LOVE YOURSELF BEFORE YOU LOVE SOMEONE ELSE, AND BEFORE THEY CAN KNOW AND LOVE YOU.

This is something I’ve been learning in my own life for a while now. It’s difficult initially. I think many of us feel this void and we want to fill it… so we think ‘what do I need? a relationship!’ It may feel like the magical answer, but what about your relationship with yourself? How about working on that for a while?

Personally I’m reaping great benefits from nurturing my relationship with myself. With increasing frequency I’ll see something kind I did for myself (my bed is made and the sheets look smooth and comfortable and pretty…. or I concocted a really delicious smoothie…. or a note I wrote for myself complete with ‘Love, Me’ as the signature) and when I see these things, I feel this powerful and beautiful sense of ‘aww, someone loves me! Oh, I love me!’ It’s a great feeling. It’s really worth it.

I used to identify with the scene with the eggs. Watch the movie. You’ll see what I’m talking about.

Any fear we experience is internal; it’s about Self. The only remedy for that is to fully accept and love yourself Exactly the way you are now, dark and light and all. Face the dark, rejoice in the light, and you’ll eventually be just who you imagine and wish that you could be.

Mona Lisa Smile: Women’s choices are ALWAYS ours.

Just saw ‘Mona Lisa Smile’ and I loved it. I really connected with the message and main characters.

The driving message of the movie is that women’s choices are always ours to make. This does not mean that women are always right, nor happy with our choices, nor locked into our first choice…. we are allowed to change our minds, admit we were wrong, or let ourselves off the hook for a choice we wish had worked out better!

Julia Roberts’ portrayal of the lead is amazing and cool; I love how she makes her choices and doesn’t agonize over them, she has confidence and a good sense of herself. She earns respect by the way she lives, rather than simply by the way she looks.

I love Ginnifer Goodwin (who is in this movie!) and her role was a beautiful look at how it feels to be lonely and ignored, and yet intelligent, beautiful, talented and hard-working. Everyone has insecurities.

Kirsten Dunst and Maggie Gyllenhaal (who I newly adore due to her role in this film) have this amazing moment where their characters understand each other and it really breaks down walls. I found I could relate to each of the characters quite naturally, which is the hallmark of excellent acting.

Most likely you’ve already seen this movie, since it came out ~10 years ago. If you haven’t, watch it now. Post your thoughts. Revel in the revolution of respecting women.

 

Female Genius …and Busking!

I figured I had better drop in and assure you that my tactics for surviving Valentines day did in fact work. I did not perish horribly for lack of ‘box of chocolates gifted by an adoring fellow’ nor any other unfortunate malady. You’ll never guess what I -DID- just find.

are you guessing?

I was searching for ‘movies about street performers’ on google, in part because of my admiration for Amanda Palmer and her amazing work, and due to my own interest in possibly developing an act.

I found THIS. Make sure to check out the second page. The link is sort of hard to find at the bottom there. ‘5 Crazy Street Performers (Who Happened to be Geniuses)‘ impressed me, but what impressed me more about the list was that the author hadn’t felt it necessary to include any female street performers!

One quick visit to The Busking Project‘s website led me to Dawn Dreams, whose contact juggling left me breathless. Rhiannon Schmitt is an experienced busker and violinist who has written a comprehensive article about street performing’s rigors and joys.

And then of course there is Amanda Palmer, who is in my opinion undoubtedly a genius.

So, post your links and knowledge and everything good you can find about female buskers HERE as comments to this post. Go!!