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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Lindsey Stirling [is Awesome]

So I’ve liked Lindsey Stirling’s music from the first time I heard it. I’m also into Steampunk. Hence this particular choice to showcase her talent and general awesomeness:

She doesn’t sacrifice a thing. This video is fun with a strong female empowerment message. She’s portrayed as a formidable rival for the outlaw as well as a good friend to her female co-workers and a hero responsible for the safety of the town.

Not only does she show up as strong and good, but also adorable and confident. And she fights off the bank robbers with music and gadgetry, on equal footing. My favorite part is that the costumes are humanizing, which is a refreshing break from music video traditions.

On top of all this cool, the video is her own concept. So rock on, Lindsey!

I absolutely love it. What’s your favorite Lindsey Stirling song?

I need a summer- but the summer’s come and gone

What is up with the title??

Glad you asked, my friend. So I was listening to this song by VAST (awesome awesome band) and one thought led to another. Go ahead! Listen to it. See what comes up for you:

Winter in My Heart

So he says ‘I can’t find all the pieces of my broken life‘ and I wondered what that could mean to me. After a couple thoughts, suddenly I remembered these beautiful sunny yellow pants I had between 2005-2009 (yes… I kept track like they were a pet or a child). I had just sewn a green patch on to fix a hole in them before they got lost. I’ve been looking for them for years now, more years spent looking for them than was spent with them, in fact. I’ve messaged people, posted an APB on facebook, talked to folks over campfires, mentioned them to anyone who might have seen me wearing them and could pinpoint that last time I had them…. so I could know where I might look.

Why do I care so much? I don’t think I even have a picture, or if I do it will be tough to find.* So why do I care?

These pants were a symbol for me…. I recalled a particularly unpleasant vacation that I survived while wearing them and even found my own ways to enjoy parts of, and another rough experience that I’m just grateful to have survived… and I remember looking down at those pants and being so grateful to be in them… grateful they had so many functional pockets, grateful they were bright yellow (they even forged a friendship between me and a co-worker who had bright orange pants and his former roommate who he’d ‘borrowed’ them from – they both appreciated my sense of style), grateful they were 100% cotton and thus I could wear them during welding class and not worry about them melting and sit close to the campfire and not catch, and mostly just grateful to have something that I knew I liked.

*strangely enough this photo was difficult to find... I lived in these pants.

*As I mentioned above, despite the fact that I lived in these pants, this photo was difficult to locate

The woman who gave them to me (yes, they were a treasured hand-me-down) was named Jessie and she was someone I greatly admired. She gave me several pairs of her old pants and I felt cared-about and connected-with because she had noticed my style and said I reminded her a little of herself as a college freshman.

These pants were with me during hard times and fun times, and I don’t know where I lost them. They might have gotten ‘cleaned out’ of a locker in the welding classroom, or left in the car of a road-trip, or ‘borrowed’ by a friend…. who knows?

I know I miss them. But I still have the resilience they represented, and I always have that. I am the strong one; the pants were merely a good symbol of it. So maybe I don’t need all those old pieces of my broken life that I can’t find. Maybe it’s kind of like this:

4f2077d5cf751581c4e45da07b946781Where all the broken pieces that remain add up to something greater than what they originally were.

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!!

Natural Woman

Katie Stelmanis is a female musician creating incredible feminist music. How is it feminist? Her lyrics expand the range of themes female music artists typically discuss within songs. On ‘Believe Me’, she asserts herself (listen to it!), and the video for ‘Natural Woman’ expands on the original song in such a beautiful way, not only for transgendered individuals, but for anyone whose gender is boundary-defying.

I found out about Katie’s music because of an article I was reading* which decried the sexism and anti-female attitudes now being found within the industrial music scene. The article spoke positively of Katie’s work, however, saying that maybe there is an underground saving grace for industrial music (fitting, considering the underground nature industrial music once embodied). I would classify her work as ‘awesome’, for it is in the ‘awesome’ music genre. As for ‘industrial’, I’m not so sure that classification fits, but I’ll let you decide for yourself whether you like it. Believe me, I do:

As for violent industrial music, I am #notbuyingit and I mean that. Literally. I’m trashing old stuff and not buying new. I will not wear an old t-shirt for a band who spreads violent messages because that is free advertising for them, for violence.

I’m feeling good about standing against violent messages, and feeling Awesome about women expressing our human interests through music.

*(no link provided, due to the violent and sexual imagery included with the article.

The Hills Are Alive!

The Sound of Music is one of my favorite films because it lovingly portrays a strong woman, independent for her time, on a journey of self-discovery. It is a musical, and I have included some quotes of lyrics that inspire me and remind me it’s ok to be a bit different and spirited, to be terrified and confident all at once, and to accept life as the grand adventure it truly is.

Julie Andrews portrays a spunky, unapologetic young woman named Maria who has decided to become a nun, but is a bit animated for the abbey. In the words of the other sisters, “She climbs a tree and scrapes her knee, her dress has got a tear. She waltzes on the way to mass, and whistles on the stair.”

She is sent to work as a governess for the large family of a widower. Because it is outside the abbey and somewhat removed from the town she has known her whole life, she is apprehensive about the change. Yet she bolsters her confidence, reflecting and singing;

“What will this day be like? I wonder.
What will my future be? I wonder.
It could be so exciting to be out in the world, to be free
My heart should be wildly rejoicing
Oh, what’s the matter with me?

I’ve always longed for adventure
To do the things I’ve never dared
And here I’m facing adventure
Then why am I so scared

A captain with seven children
What’s so fearsome about that?

Oh, I must stop these doubts, all these worries
If I don’t I just know I’ll turn back
I must dream of the things I am seeking
I am seeking the courage I lack

The courage to serve them with reliance
Face my mistakes without defiance
Show them I’m worthy
And while I show them 
I’ll show me

So, let them bring on all their problems
I’ll do better than my best
I have confidence they’ll put me to the test
But I’ll make them see I have confidence in me

Somehow I will impress them
I will be firm but kind
And all those children (Heaven bless them!)
They will look up to me

And mind me with each step I am more certain
Everything will turn out fine
I have confidence the world can all be mine
They’ll have to agree I have confidence in me

I have confidence in sunshine
I have confidence in rain
I have confidence that spring will come again
Besides which you see I have confidence in me

Strength doesn’t lie in numbers
Strength doesn’t lie in wealth
Strength lies in nights of peaceful slumbers
When you wake up — Wake Up!

It tells me all I trust I lead my heart to
All I trust becomes my own
I have confidence in confidence alone
(Oh help!)

I have confidence in confidence alone
Besides which you see I have confidence in me!”

Maria’s intention throughout the film is to follow the will of her Creator, rather than to find a husband, which is the theme of an unfortunately large number of other films. Through her search for belonging, she finds herself unexpectedly drawn to motherhood and to a man who appreciates her personality and her direct and honest approach when relating to others. As well, she proves to be a talented music teacher and seamstress.

Through a particular turn of events, Maria is in search of guidance. Mother Abbess (the ‘head nun’ at the convent) advises Maria to leave fear behind and face life for the adventure that it is;

“Climb every mountain, ford every stream, follow every rainbow, ’til you find your dream!”

I find this movie comforting and inspiring every time I watch it. I hope it can do the same for you. I’m feeling good about sharing in life’s adventures.

Love & Marriage (& Responsibility)

So, sometimes people think feminists are against marriage. I am not. I am against “marriage-for-the-wrong-reasons“.

What is this? Marriage for the… what?

Do you want to have sex? Do you want someone else to take care of you and buy you jewelry and houses and dogs and clothes and expensive, etc, etc, etc? Do you want to raise children?

The above are all insufficient reasons to get married.

Marriage is a good idea in this current financially-unstable society when two people who can independently financially support themselves know one another well-enough (does zie have a criminal record? does zie bathe every day? does zie take out the trash or wait for maggots and roaches to materialize and then blame the landlord?) to conclude that their mutual enjoyment of each other’s company will not be destroyed by harmful behavior or destitute poverty.

Because harmful behavior causes harm and stress (no kidding?), and destitute poverty can be just a credit-card swipe away. Financial stress is often quoted as the primary factor which causes divorce, and certain behaviors like unclean-living can cause such destruction to a home as to require thousands of dollars worth of repair. Think before you launch into an a-cappella rendition of ‘Fools Rush In’. Your sanity (and hir’s) is worth it.

This link is a pretty sweet corroboration to my post, but In List Form (I love lists!).

Mazel tov, my loving and responsible friends!

I’m feeling good about Marriage for the Right Reasons.