When I got dumped, and I mean, majorly, after-five-plus-years-everyone-thought-you’d-get-married, dumped, a million people told me it would be a good thing if I were single for a while. At the time I held it against them. My take was that they were saying I was needy and dependent and should get my sh-t together without further inflicting it on the public at large. First off, how the heck did they know what was best for me in my time of need? I thought the ideal solution would include a bevy of suitors and looking good in revenge. Secondly, why would the answer to my newfound loneliness be solitude? A delectable but casual rebound seemed far more appropriate.
I was however one of those people who had hardly been single since puberty. Someone whose relationships unfortunately often overlapped. And somehow despite my best intentions I internalized their admonishment. Officially speaking,(meaning Facebook) I haven’t called a fellow my boyfriend in the last half decade. While my best friend might find some of that time debateable-a whole separate conversation would need to be had over what counts as being in a relationship with someone- I can say that I have been commitment free. Able to make my own decisions, “follow my own drummer” and screw whoever I like. That’s what being single means to me. What a 180 I’ve made in terms of preference and perspective from when I couldn’t imagine life alone.
While I am loathe to give into a dialectic that defines being single as either a defect vs. a strength, I can’t help now perceiving coupling as a fear based decision. Something tied to our fear of mortality and of helplessness without a help-mate. A while back there was an article on the teenage brain in National Geographic. One of the things it talked about was a study on decision making that looked at how teenagers perceived risk differently from adults. It used a scenario in which the participants decided on whether or not to run a yellow light. The results showed that teenagers had the same level of judgment but that their actions were dependent on there being peers in the room. When their friends were around they took more risks to show off.
What struck me most was the part that talked about how teens perceive social acceptance as a life or death proposition. It made me think about all the recent bullying deaths and how being ostracized was so traumatic to those who ultimately killed themselves. It makes sense when you think about it on an evolutionary level. There is safety in numbers. We generally speaking feel safer when not alone. There are shared resources, skill sets and deterrent force. The sense that one has utterly failed at the task of assimilation and will be alone in life must be terrifying and overwhelming. And the adolescent phase is when it counts. When I think about who I consider my closest friends/allies I realize that I collected the majority during those same formative years. I was trying to build a community that would sustain me in my adult life. Indeed, especially during the time in which I’ve been single, those relationships have been crucial.
The phenomenon in which people, when coupled, isolate themselves from their friends and community is an unhealthy one. I know a bunch of girls who regret having let their platonic relationships dissolve when they fell in love. Later when their significant other is less dreamy, they wish they had outside support. It is also unfair to demand that one person fulfill the totality of one’s emotional needs. Anyone would seem needy under that guise.
So much of what we do is still animal thinking. I am not a proponent of some of what has been extrapolated. I don’t for instance believe that men are hardwired to seek multiple partners, while women benefit from a single mate scenario. I doubt if anything that people are hardwired for monogamy at all- (see the book Sex at Dawn) but I do believe that most unconscious decisions are based in fear. We are programmed for survival above all.
I think it is brave to be single. It takes courage. Even if it’s not by choice. I learned a lot about keeping myself company in the last few years. I found a few pitfalls along the way,(who knew I was so annoying?) but those too taught me more about who I am. At this point being single feels safer oddly enough. Less chance for surprises and disappointment.
So… I think it is also brave though to give love a try. Whether for the first time or the fifth. I don’t mean to make it seem more noble to stand alone like the great American ideal intones. Being with others means vulnerability. Being vulnerable takes strength. Trust is inherently a leap of faith. It isn’t predicated on evidence or logic alone. It has some relationship to reciprocity but the two are not mutually intertwined. Ideally we want to take the sense of self developed independently and preserve it while accepting and appreciating another human being. We want to see and be seen. This is really hard work. When that alchemy happens it is worth the heartbreak that might be to come later. My mom said, when I was feeling rather desolate, that I shouldn’t worry about being able to love again. Time will pass. You know how to love and be loved, that is what’s important. That’s what we all have to keep practicing. Single or not.
I woke up this morning feeling as though some existential threat had been lifted from me. The way Israel might feel if Iran disappeared. As both a woman and the daughter of lesbians, I had a lot riding on this election. With the gains made in terms of same sex marriage in Washington and Maryland, the retention of Justice Wiggins in Iowa and the record number of women candidates prevailing, progress saved the day.
But before I move on and selectively forget the names and faces of those Republicans who caused me so much anxiety over the last few months, I’d like to say farewell and goodbye to those relics of repression and hate. Goodbye Todd Akin, Richard Murdoch - otherwise known as the “Rape Team”. Thank you for inspiring women to turn out to the polls. Goodbye Republican Presidential nominees one and all, I hope the next set builds their careers on something other than our families backs….. See, every few years often concurrent with the electoral cycle, gay families are brought to the foreground of political debate. No other group, other than perhaps welfare mothers, is used so regularly as political fodder.
I’d like to point out that contrary to the way it was portrayed in this election,my family is not a point to win in a debate, not something to be used as political leverage. It’s a Civil Rights issue, plain and simple. Imagine if it were another demographic being spoken about in this manner, a racial group for instance that it was being suggested was unfit to parent, imagine the outrage that would cause. What if someone asked what the consequences of their parenting would be? There are an estimated 2.3 million children of LGBT parents. When politicians degrade our families it feels like a punch in the gut to every one of them. And although I was hardly harassed growing up in the most liberal corner of the country, I consider the statements made by the Republican candidates to be a call to arms for anyone who might be interested in perpetrating violence against our community.
Here’s a few of the highlights from this round.
Caught on tape back in 2005, the Boston Globe’s story highlighting Mitt Romney’s actions and statements around children with same –sex parents did not surprise me. He joins his former Republican rivals Michelle Bachmann and Rick Santorum in the club of politicians who say ignorant things regarding gay families. It seems to be some sort of GOP initiation rite at this point. The pattern seems to be a denial of our very existence, followed by denial of the numerous studies that say our families are healthy and finally, denial of our rights.
Never once in that process are we as potential political constituents sought out or listened to. According to the GOP, direct testimony as to our experience is considered untrustworthy and so we have to depend on outside opinions and studies that corroborate for us what we already know, our families are legitimate places to raise happy children. Unfortunately for some, like Mr. Santorum, even the opinion of a well respected group like the American Psychiatric Association on the subject of gay marriage is held suspect. In a video that circled the web, Mr. Santorum gets in an argument with a college student. She says the APA has come out in support of gay families and he goes on to say that they are just a group of people who agree with each other. Sure, a group of people we put a lot of faith behind, because after all we depend on them to decide what’s crazy and what’s sane.
Finally Michelle Bachmann in a confrontation with an eight year old boy. Although Dan Savage disagrees with me, I think it’s perfectly reasonable for a child to defend their family’s right to exist to a politician. What I find offensive is that we as a society have put children in the political cross-hairs. Growing up with gay parents puts one constantly on the defensive and until there is equality that will continue to be true.
I wish I could stand behind a statement like the one made today by Zach Wahls, that the anti-Gay Culture War ends now. I can at least have a momentary faith though that the war will ultimately be settled in our favor. I’d like someday to have a chance, for instance, to vote for candidates without taking their views on my families right to existence into consideration. I am forced to be an issues voter instead. Regardless of how I might feel about the economy, I will be voting democrat for the forseeable future.
I read an article online titled, I’m thirty two and my family bankrolls my lifestyle. It featured a lady whose family financially supports her so she can pursue a freelance writing career. According to the comment section she might as well have been Hitler. Among the 500 or so comments the majority were focused on how selfish and lazy she was. A sample : “ i personally do not know how you can be ok taking advantage of everyone around you. my parents will often forgo paying their own rent in order to support my brother in his not wanting to work a full time job because he’s an artist. bullshit.” Or “Yeah my entire thought while reading this was get your shit together and stop mooching off your friends/family. At 32 being broke while sponging off people isn’t cute.”
Now maybe I’m inclined to identify with her since I’m 31 and also often accept offers of cash from my folks with glee, while I work less than full time so as to make space for artistic pursuits, but I think there is more than that at play here. I think Culture is involved.
See in other times and places, Artists were supported in a variety of ways, from patronage in Medieval times to the modern day European government funding of the Arts for example. Here in Capitalist America, we have chosen against Public arts funding for the most part, leaving artists to find private channels of support.
Some artists are paid enough money for the art they make to live but by no means all of them and talent is not always a deciding factor in who succeeds in that sense. We can all think of commercially successful artists who pale in comparison talent wise with those who are broke. And because we as a society have devalued Art, fewer people are willing to personally invest in Art in the way that is needed to support Artists. We need enough people buying art, from artists, to make private arts funding really work and it ain’t happening. This also makes Art an entirely commercial venture which defeats the purpose, frankly. With neither public nor private funding largely accessible this leaves us in a situation where only the independently wealthy can afford artistic careers- and I can tell you a lot of Artists these days do have trust funds. That being said I think it’s a shame and a cultural loss for the rest of us. Which brings me back to the subject of the piece, the middle class girl whose normal family is trying to let her play on that field and the Haters who be hating….
To them I say: We need not resent people who are supported by their community. We can be jealous but we needn’t tear them down. Collectivism is natural. Call me a commie but the whole doing it by ourselves thing moves against nature. Look at ants.
They (the internet) are upset that she takes money from people who aren’t rich but only middle class. Somehow it’s better that rich people should be helped by their parents, while the poor (or middle class) aren’t allowed to be subsidized. Well, frankly, that gives even greater advantage to the wealthy, who are allowed to accept their parent’s money, while we the working class cannot?!
Still, in the working class pooling funds is common practice. Rich people run to the banks for money. The poor call on each other. People chip in as a sign of belief in what their friends are doing, and as a form of social investment. Among the commenters there was much talk of “enabling,” but what if that is reframed as investing, or enabling in the more positive sense of the word, as in “allowing to make possible,” It could be seen instead as a beautiful gift, a vote of confidence. If people have some cash to kick down they do it, it’s hardly highway robbery.
I’d like to note that the people who are funding her lifestyle are adults making independent choices about their own finances. Nowhere in the article does she describe anyone as deprived. She isn’t conning the elderly or stealing candy from babies. The people who buy her lunch and pay her bills have the right to do so as they wish. They can pay for her main/pedis and choose to support her in pursuing her dream, for whatever motives they might have. I don’t sense that she is begging them for favors. If people appreciate her enough to throw some cash toward it, well I see that as a more intimate version of Kickstarter.
So she works one day a week. I get feeling saintlier than thou, or more hard-working and tougher, but why does your superiority have to result in her inferiority? It was as though they took personally her situation. The writer is lucky to be that privileged. But it’s not like she wrote the article to complain. She seemed to be confessing, she came to divulge something that she feels ashamed of and embarrassed by. Everyone is so sold on the idea that working three jobs and making art on the side is ideal.
Why should the ability to hold down multiple jobs be the standard bearer for true artists? What if making that a requisite means losing out on the potential creativity of those who are tapped out after a fifty hour work week? If we demand that every artist who isn’t trust funded work full-time before they make art, I think we may miss out on someone’s masterpiece. I know that sometimes I actually get more done when I’m busy and I definitely gain creative inspiration from the stuff I encounter on the job but I would still rather have more time to get art done. What with all that work, less art gets made that’s all there is to it. And maybe I am a weaker person for not being able to juggle it all but that’s just the way it is and it doesn’t make my art any less valuable for that being the case. There are some artists, fragile flowers that we are, who might benefit from some leisure. Art is about process ultimately and you can’t always force that out in the one spare hour before you fall into bed. So if we take all that into consideration, is it the worst thing in the world that this Lady’s family is helping to make that happen for her?
Another shitstorm was started over the Lady’s fantasy that some well- off man would come and save/support her someday, transferring responsibility from her family onto his bank account. Folks lambasted her as anti-feminist and again Lazy. But the thing is- It’s a fantasy. She never says she is living her life in a way to make that happen. She isn’t getting dressed up and hitting hotel bars or whatever it is gold-diggers do anyway. Who doesn’t want to be rescued from their own mundane existence?
This is the “crime” they are accusing her of: She is trying to eke out a living as an artist, is lucky to be financially supported and doesn’t work as much as many. I question this adherence to capitalist philosophy. Community support: its how a lot of artists/people get by.
So clearly I took a European style vacation from blogging (read: eight weeks long), during which time I managed to accomplish a life-long goal of mine and became a fully professed member of The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. For those not in the know, the Sisters are an international non-profit organization whose mission is to expiate stigmatic guilt and shame, while promulgating universal joy through habitual perpetration. A mouthful, huh? We do a lot of fundraising for charity and social activism work, along with providing spiritual ministry to the community.
For more info you can check out Wikipedia or our local chapter’s website.
I have wanted to be a Sister since I was about four years old. My family used to attend the Lily Street Easter celebration, the pre-cursor to the event the Sisters now hold every Easter in Dolores Park. I remember seeing the larger than life Glamazons, in their glitter and jewels, wielding towering headpieces and thinking, if only one day I could be one of them….And the time has finally come!
The process of becoming a Sister is very involved. It takes at least a year and a half. Because I am special, I took over two years. I started loitering around them in April 2010. The Sisters don’t recruit members, in the same way the Jews don’t prosletize, by which I mean they make terribly hard to get in and come off as insular and possibly hostile. I kept waiting for someone to invite me into the group or otherwise instruct me me in joining. They don’t ask you to join, you just have to state your intention of doing so publicly at one of their meetings. It took me seven months to figure this out. Seven months of attending meeting and events with them and no one mentioned this to me. That’s Drag Queens for you.
But I kept at it, and they became friendlier with time, and now I can say that at least a few have tempted towards heterosexuality on my account. Okay, probably that is an overstatement, but I do like to joke that I am a conservative plant sent on a mission to convert them. No luck so far, but I’ll keep trying…wink wink, nudge, nudge.
The journey I’ve taken with them over the last two years has given my life here in LA additional meaning and has made up for some of what I’ve otherwise lacked (adoring fans, flashing bulbs, chances to wave to crowds). My mom always says to find things that are both selfish and altruistic. I like saying that I do a lot of volunteer work, when really most of takes place in bars. It allows me, as Queerspawn to maintain a relationship with my community. That’s one of the tricky things about being a grown up child of gay parents, especially if you are straight yourself. How do include yourself in the Queer world? The Sisters have been my answer and I am very grateful they welcomed me in.
On the slight chance you are wondering how it is that I’ve gone this long without previously mentioning them herein, I can blame their rigorous and dense policies and procedures that state that as a novice or prior I could speak publicly about the Sisters but not as their representative. This precarious protocol scared me enough to wait. When you’ve wanted something like this for as long as I had, you don’t take chances. But now that I am a member…HAHHAHAHAHAHHAHA! I thought that the moment I was a Black Veil (what fully professed members are called) I would want to race out and misrepresent us, but so far the idea of putting on all that make-up in the heat has stalled me. I like white face better in Winter.
This week was pretty colossal coming out wise. What with Anderson Cooper’s statements starting us off and then Frank Ocean’s letter about falling in love with a man going public later in the week.
I was actually more interested in the latter since it was by far the more surprising. It isn’t everyday a rapper comes out- if we can call it that, he doesn’t ever necessarily self-identify as gay therein. Still it is a brave and bold move especially considering that his group Odd Future have been charged with misogyny and homophobia more than once.
I found myself on the roof of my apartment wednesday night watching the fireworks, and asking whether they(Odd Future)may, in fact, be the most progressive group on the hip-hop scene. They are certainly the only group with two “out” members ( along with Frank Ocean, their DJ Syd tha Kyd is a lesbian). What does it mean when that is combined with a front man whose favorite word seems to be faggot?
As a kid growing up with gay moms that word had serious bite. If I heard it used by someone it meant they were no longer a potential friend. I often lectured children on the playground against using it.
“Do you know what that means?” I’d ask them.
“It is a bunch of sticks used to burn people in the middle ages!”
The etymology is still the same. I still cringe most times I hear it said, even in the gay community I’m wary; I wouldn’t ever call someone a fag. But my younger, hipper friends and Gawker suggest it is perhaps slowly losing power. That it doesn’t necessarily mean the same thing it did thirty years ago. I think this is all up for debate since I have yet to hear a usage that isn’t interwoven with some sort of misogynist intent. Try me though- For serious…
Look, we all use harsher language these days. We swear in front of our mothers. At least I do.
So is using the word so frequently while in life setting an example of tolerance by including gay people in your peer-set possibly subversive? Maybe when the older generations are long gone and progress has come all these words will be less touchy? They will be properly reclaimed? All the gay kids will wear cute baby tees proudly proclaiming themselves “Fags”? And be safe doing it? That seems like a pipe dream but if so then Odd Future might be the right name for them afterall. Is this what the beginning of progress looks like? In which case, I’m sorry I’m so P.C. but when I was your age….
In my diverse and progressive hometown there were nonetheless stereotypes about racial groups’ perceived opinions around certain sex acts. Jewish guys were known to be glad to go downtown, good luck getting a Mexican guy to give you head and Black guys did it but didn’t admit to it.
This was reflected in Rap music where the mentions of blowjobs were rife but no one talked about reciprocation. Even when they did it was with caveats, like with Kool G Rap’s lyric, “Because you gotta be brave to eat the tuna, G/So when it comes to pussy-lickin’, I’m the chicken of the sea.” Hardly an enthusiastic endorsement. One explanation given suggested that in cultures where machoism dominated, pussy eating lagged.
These days though, suddenly Hip Hop abounds with Rappers praising their own skills at Cunnilingus. Sample rhyme courtesy of Lil Wayne on Drake’s The Motto, “I tongue kiss her other tongue, skeet, skeet, skeet, water gun!” Not only is he copping to giving oral sex but he’s praising female ejaculation! Can I have a Hallelujah? Donald Glover raps that, “Sixty- nine is the only dinner for two.” While Tyler the Creator says, “Tall skinny flaco, that’s for my nigga Paco/I enchilada bitches and I’m eating up they taco” and Wale counter-offers, “I’ll paint you with my tongue and stay in those bikini lines.” It’s a pussy-eating free-for-all on the Top 40 charts!
In fact, much of the credit can be given to Lil’ Wayne who has arguable made it cool in the rap world to give girls head. He wasn’t the first man to go there, Big Pun rapped, “I could go downstairs, Little brown hairs everywhere,” back in 1998, but that lyric is followed by a girl chiming in, “you nasty twin!” and though he claims not to care, there is an implicit judgment written alongside the assertion. Lil Wayne doesn’t just admit to the practice but celebrates his veracity.
On a list compiled by Vibe magazine of rap lyrics about cunnilingus, Lil Wayne appears over ten times. He raps that he “likes to taste that sugar, that sweet and low,” that “yes, I eat that pussy/ Oh, how, do I love that panty pie,” and “lemme just taste ya, we can f-ck later.” Let’s just say, Lil Wayne means business and in exchange I’ll happily give him mine.
Yesterday was officially Memorial Day, even though we all had Monday off in observance. Well, actually, I worked,(yay for domestic workers)but on my way to and fro I had a chance to hear NPR’s coverage of the occasion. They had interviews with veterans and others about how they were spending the day.This was the first year I remember there being a perceptable tension between recognizing the sacrifice of the troops and enjoying the beginning of BBQ season. On facebook there were a rash of statuses’that said, if I may paraphrase, “while you are out there having fun, assholes, remember someone died so you could enjoy this day. Freedom isn’t free!” It smacked of Jesus’ dying for my sins, frankly. On the radio elderly respondents lamented the lack of respect they perceived from the American public.There was a defensiveness, almost a hostility that divided the world, at least in the minds of those speaking into those who do Memorial day right and the rest of us.
What bothered me was the generational blame game that seemed rear its’ head. These kids they said, they don’t appreciate what we did- they don’t know how it is. The multiple calls to reinstate the draft sounded to me like frat boys standing up for hazing. While I get the logic behind saying that if everyone had to go to War we wouldn’t be so keen on starting them, whose babies will unwillingly be slaughtered to prove your point? and who says we wanted to start them in the first place? As though we voted on these last few. Who are we talking about, exactly, when we say “they”? “They” who don’t care about history, who don’t spend Memorial day putting flags on gravestones, who should be drafted so they know what wars about. Which generation is in question? Is it mine? I definitely got dragged as a child to the cemetery. Our baby boomer parents, even the hippies, emphasized the enormity of the whole WAR proposition early enough in our minds.Besides,the gray haired men who sign the budgets and bills to pay for the war, they are my parents age at least and their own experiences with the draft hasn’t seemed to stop them from making war.
I know for sure the kids growing up right now have a grasp of the concept, because imagine that if you are a twelve year old girl and you live in America, you must take for granted that from the moment you were born, the United States has been at war.You grew up slowly piecing together the letters that graced the bumper of so many cars, “Support the Troops.” You see the most recent Katy Perry video, Part of Me, in which the message seems to be if you get mad at your boyfriend maybe the answer is to enlist in the Marines. You are the target demographic of the artist in question and you have just begun to be involved with boys romantically, in the sense that they tease you mercilessly. There is a strong possibility that this could be considered recruitment material.
As a six year old, you watched Elmo’s dad come home from being deployed for multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. (Since when does Elmo have parents?) The subject matter is both treacly and deep all at once. What does the future hold for you? Why do all the old people on public radio want to draft you? Why can’t they let you enjoy the sunshine outside? Do peaceful societies need these kinds of holidays at all? Yesterday I said a prayer for all the fallen soldiers and for the generation that hopefully won’t become them.
When I saw that the NY Times was holding an essay contest on the subject of why it’s ethical to eat meat, I knew I had to submit something. Though I didn’t make it into the finalists, I was glad to see some of the same logic used in a few of those that did. Here is my essay for those interested :
As a vegetarian poised to inherit a cattle ranching operation, I have put some time into the mental gymnastics that is rationalizing my role in the family business and the justice of the work itself. I can find no justification for modern factory farming, indeed that ugly version of animal husbandry is what made me an herbivore, but in its more traditional guise, one in which the animal’s quality of life is taken into account, I see little wrong. While I lack any formal education in ethics, my sense is the greater good can be served on the same plate as supper.
The cows we raise, with minimal intervention, live happy unadulterated lives before dying in an instant and in a way that benefits others. If I could choose, I’d live my life and die similarly. The struggle to find one’s place in the world, to create or attain a sense of meaning regarding one’s time here is what makes us human. If we generously assign animals equal feeling and sentience might they not grapple with the same concerns and in some way find peace on the dinner plate, if only in fulfilling the journey of their lives? Like Mr. Pollan’s book, Botany of Desire proposes, I think the argument can be made that through domestication certain species have assured their survival. The animals we don’t eat go extinct much quicker and with less purpose to their deaths.
Eating meat connects us to the cycles of birth and death, even if it’s been carried home in a plastic bag, sealed inside by layers of cling wrap and pressed against Styrofoam. The unconscious does the work for us. The Hebrew word for sacrifice- “korban,” means “close.” In the intimacy of consuming flesh we bring ourselves closer to nature, to the cosmic cycles of life and to each other. We cringe when we think of the animal that becomes meat and in the “cringing,” we are brought to our own mortality and the gratitude that accompanies that reminder causes us to treat each other better. Thanks to the suffering involved, it brings us outside of ourselves. There is both something given and taken in the process of killing. There wouldn’t be the same gravity with a carrot. It is no surprise that meat is at the center of our culture’s traditional gatherings: The Easter Ham, The Christmas Goose, The iconic Thanksgiving Bird.
In a more ideal setting, one in which the relationship between the prey and predator is greater, the dialogue with mortality becomes clearer. Imagine a hunter who has spent himself racing through the woods after a buck, unsure if the animal will escape and leave him hungry. If he prevails to find himself dripping sweat over the bloody carcass, what guilt is there in that hard won victory?
We are still animals ourselves, and to remove ourselves from the natural order, the ebb and flow of the animal world is its own sort of arrogance. Anthropocentrism, they call it. By eating meat we return to our baser selves, the hungry, wanting, warring bits that we regularly keep in check. It is a way to visit our natural state in a rational way. A release valve for the pressures of civility. If we want to behave the rest of the time, we may need to feed our inner beasts.
In limiting consumption to humanely and locally produced meat, eaten in moderation and ideally with community, most of the environmental and health concerns are mediated. I hope the ethical concerns have been addressed above.
P.S. Still vegetarian myself … the ethical remainder applies.
I make no excuse in regard to my love for the reality TV show, “Toddlers and Tiaras.” On some level I know I am watching the exploitation of young girls turned into commercial entertainment. The show is an hour long orgy of mothers forcing grotesque standards of beauty on their often pre-school aged daughters in the form of fake teeth and spray tanning. Every episode features countless toddlers wrestling on the floor in piles of taffeta while their mothers’ own aspirations and need for attention are satisfied. I know this is wrong. But I can’t stop watching.
I think I like the show because it’s absurd and the presentation doesn’t lend itself to critical analysis of what it is we’re watching. It’s how I can get away with not thinking about what happens to the little girls who don’t win or the long term prospects of those who do.
I have often joked that the reason I am not famous is that my own mother wasn’t a good enough stage mom. I tried acting as a kid but if on a Saturday morning I decided that I’d rather stay home and watch cartoons than attend an audition, she’d let me do just that. I didn’t want to drive you anyway, she’d say. I joke that her lack of pressure was what separates me from Lindsay Lohan, the joke of course being that in reality my well-adjusted obscurity is enviable in comparison to Lindsay’s out of control celebrity life. On the stage mom front, the mothers of the pageant circuit take the cake. They would have dragged their children to who know where in the pursuit of fame; a few dark alleys come to mind.
The subject of my fascination, however, are not the ladies who daughters are primped, plucked and pimped in service of good television, but the children themselves. Young girls who are being endlessly prepared to flirt with the middle aged female judges, with the occasional odd male judge thrown in, as part of their pageant training. The bikini wearing three year olds freak me out. The kisses being blown and the winking makes me sick, which in turn keeps me glued to the TV. How can this be happening, I think, people are so weird, is this legal? The exacting ideas of what is beautiful is based on who knows what dark thoughts, but my former roommate used to say that he felt uncomfortable watching the show and wouldn’t admit to friends or coworkers that he had. If you weren’t in the room with me, he’d say, it would instantly classify me as creepy.
I’ve also joked that ballet school with its’ punitive discipline and anxiety producing body fixation is the launch pad for a million stripper careers. It takes strength and flexibility to work the pole and the dexterity and grace displayed on so many strip clubs has to be learned somewhere. Maybe that’s where all the girls who get too curvy for ballet go. So many girls study dance and there are so few professional ballerinas. In that vein I believe the pageant world must be another feeder source for the exotic dance community. For girls whose self-esteem and sense of self-worth was attached at such young ages to bodies used for the entertainment, judgment and enjoyment of other, it seems an easy leap. Those girls already have so much practice preening to other’s specifications, and so many beauty skills. By age ten they are already well versed in make up and hair. Why it’s the same curling irons and tan in a can on the counters of pageant queens and strippers alike; the same fixed smiles attached to their faces.
So one of the few true joys of living with people you met off craigslist is learning about things you might otherwise never know existed. That was the case with me, some guy named Joe, and Reddit. For those not in the know Reddit’s motto says that it’s the frontpage of the internet. True, if somewhat self-selecting for cat photos. I immediately introduced myself to the community by posting a video made by Planned Parenthood touting the efficacy of the Pull-out method and asking what movies featuring only token black people (ahem, The Royal Tenenbaums) should be remade with all black casts. My favorite suggestion given in return to my query might have been Top Gun. Having had so much success in my first casting about,I made a leap of faith and submitted myself to the fickle prejudices of Reddit readers by posting an IAMA AMA. This is Reddit parlance for describing oneself in salacious terms like ‘daughter of four lesbians’ and then allowing them to ask you anything. I had a great time answering their questions and offer the thread up for when you might be bored and wanting to know what random strangers wanted to know about me. I plan to use it for the next book I’m going to write about my mothers, tentatively titled Stubborn Misbehaving Women.