The Picture of Success

Month: June, 2012

Beautiful and Talented

Dear internet,

I’m angry. I’m angry and it isn’t cute. It isn’t attractive. It doesn’t come with a hilarious anecdote or a filthy story. I’m angry for myself and I’m angry for all other female artists. I’m angry because my body, my physical appearance, seems to be tightly bound to the general reception of my art. I’m angry because I’ve been told to be docile, receptive, passive. I’m angry because I’m too often described as “beautiful and talented”, as if the “talent” aspect of that is shocking, unexpected.

Last night, a man approached me after my show. He told me he really enjoyed my set; he said many kind things about my work. I accepted his praise with gratitude. I turned to leave. He grabbed my hand and kept going. I became really uncomfortable. I did not move. I tried to excuse myself from the situation, and he ignored all of my efforts. He began to describe what I was wearing. He was leering. I took my hand back. I cut the conversation short. I left.

I feel embarrassed because I didn’t do more. This man crossed clear boundaries. At the very least, he ignored basic social cues, out of ignorance. At the very worst, he was totally aware of his actions and decided to disregard what I might have been feeling and trying to communicate. I’m angry that I didn’t stand up for myself. I’m angry that I feel shame about this at all, when shame doesn’t belong here. I’m angry that I stood there. Why did I stay there?

I stayed there because this is what I’ve been taught. Female artists are raised to be humble, to lay themselves down at the feet of their following. A woman who makes demands is seen as a diva, an individual who asks for too much, due to their inflated sense of self. I have been taught that this man was being nothing but kind, that I should wear something less attractive if I don’t want that kind of attention. In short, I’ve been taught that it’s my fault. It is not my fault. It is not the fault of any female artist. How long will it take our society to place blame where blame is due?

I have chosen to take action. To stand against situations like these, to be emphatically clear about my own personal boundaries after a show. However, those individuals that cross the line are responsible for their own actions. Old man, you knew better. I tried to be gracious and you took advantage of it. No more. Do better. There is no room for your brand of misogyny here.

Sincerely,

Jessica

A writer whose vagina should have little to nothing to do with how her work is received, in the same way that one wouldn’t expect special treatment for being a writer who happens to have an elbow.

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The Inherent Danger of Exotic Fruit

Oh, spring fever, you are upon us.

Yes, it is June. But here in Bellingham, this month is nothing more than the cruel tease of summer. The sun is out long enough to convince you it’s swimming weather, but is gone before you’ve so much as put one vitamin D deprived limb in the water. The women in my town remain both hopeful and obstinate, banishing leggings and tights from their wardrobes and bringing out short shorts far too early. The theory is that you can convince the season to change, if you are perpetually ready for the next season.

Here’s the other problem with spring fever: I have a crush on every boy. Of course, by I, I really mean we, and by boy, I mean whomever you might have a crush on. Clearly, this is not a time for red flag dating. The guidelines are simple; if you see any red flags, you leave. For example, you’re having dinner with someone and they casually mention that they voted for Bush both times. Red flag. Get up and go. Of course, everyone’s red flags are different. Theoretically, when you meet someone with these tendencies, you would call it quits right there, without getting involved. Doesn’t that sound mature? Sensible, even? Be warned, spring fever has a complete disregard for your responsible inclinations. There are sunsets to reckon with. Sangria comes back into play. Sure, this guy is super homophobic, but he has a boat! And you can reach him, change his mind, probably, by making out with him! Right?

Best to take up a lot of hobbies. And since you’ll need something to distract you from poor decision making, how about coming to my show this Thursday? I promise, I did write something on my residency, though I might not be able to write again until September. The show is at the Honey Moon and it’s called Thirty Days in the Wilderness. Troi Gale will be opening it up and I will be accompanied by the incredible Sarah Goodin. It starts at 8:30. There’s a patio, and mead, and maybe there will even be a spell of warm weather. Come and make some good decisions. Or bad ones. Either way, you know I won’t be the one to judge you.

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