Monday, March 19, 2012

reach out

i am watching tavi gevinson's style video for and swooning as they swoop over an image of emily dickinson stuck on her curtains. in under seven minutes she speaks about prettiness and fashion (to paraphrase, she wonders "do i want it for myself, or is something outside of me pressuring me towards it"), about fear amongst women and how we can turn that fear into a connection, a question, or even an admiration (or as tavi says, a "girl crush."). an articulation of quickly evolving girlhood that is inspiring to me even now, nearly thirty. many thing you leave behind when your teenage years are done, but many questions remain unanswered, or have rotating, mutating answers that change as our experience become a murky palimpsest, every day informing the next one forever and ever til we die.

another thing that was born online today that connects to tavi's interview is this interview of kate zambreno by edith zimmerman. edith recently reviewed kate's green girl alongside the marriage plot the morning news' tournament of books, and didn't really care for either book. what came out of this is something extraordinarily beautiful- kate reaching out to edith and a resulting discussion which covers the complexity of reviewing, reading, and responding. instead of a wedge being driven in, a silver cord of strength was built. this is one of the most exciting things i can think of happening in the context of feminist action- using these moments to strengthen or build relationships rather than sever them. how brave of both kate and edith to act as such, and to offer us their conversation as well so we can see in action the power of reaching out. what seems like the harder thing to do ends up (i imagine) relieving stress for both parties. the world is not a vacuum, and our responses to each other don't have to be condemnations or even celebrations- we are much more complicated. we can not exactly love each other's work and still support each other's convictions, admire the process. be open to communication.

in my own past their are women i've been afraid of- afraid because i find them so brilliant. i think to myself, they are so much better/more beautiful/smarter/etc than me. i saw them as existing on another plane. but as i've gotten older, over the years, i've made it a point to reach out to those women, in varying ways, to humanize them for me, because a pedestal is de-humanizing, in some ways, as we all know. and i have been amazed at how smoothly it works- to know someone, even if in a small way, to reach out to them and find them to be simply human, like me. nobody has to become best friends, but we can exist as real, three dimensional animals for each other, make room for flaws and hardships and complications, and sometimes friendship. when we are alive to each other we are turning our back on misogyny, for just a moment.

i am not free from putting other women on pedestals. i have a tumblr where i daily post photos of women i admire, and that in itself is definitely a form of idolization. of course it is ok to champion and adore the people we admire- i love to do it, and i love to see other people do it. but i hope that if i ever met say, joanna newsom or emily dickinson (via time travel/psychic ether connection) or erykah badu i'd be able to see them as something more than ciphers for work that has changed my life, because, of course, they are.

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