Monday, November 23, 2009


With varying degrees of success, I've been making myself go out lately. At best, I see a sweet, moving play, like the one my friend Lucas is in, I cry a little, and I am actually inspired to start writing (!) when I get home. Or I go with a crowd I don't know to a mind-blowing show by and starring Anna Deavere Smith, which turns out to be about DEATH and CANCER and PEOPLE DYING FROM CANCER, and sob. And then, exiting the theater while still shaken and teary, deal with the following:

GIRL 1: I didn't cry once! Did you?
GIRL 2: No! I almost did, during the orphanage one.
GIRL 3: Yeah, that was really sad. ... But I didn't cry either.
GIRL 2: Huh. [turning to me] Well, it was nice to meet you! Bye!

It's not their faults, of course. They didn't know what was going on with me. But I still felt like an idiot.

Friday night, I went to a birthday party with a bunch of people I know and love, and it was still hard. Trying to be boisterous and upbeat, I ended up overcompensating and saying at least one truly ridiculous, hurtful thing. Luckily everyone else was drinking and I counted, by the end of night, enough ridiculous things to knock my most offensive comment out of the evening's Top Three.

At the party, one of my friends mentioned my blog, my dear, old neglected blog, where, she said, I "write about my feelings." The pained look on my face must have given me away, and she hurried to assure me that she didn't mean it in a bad way. But Jebus Crispy! My feelings? Is that what I have come to? Is that what I've been wasting my time with for eight years?

It took me a moment to regain my equilibrium. Once I did, I realized I was battling my own -- wait for it -- internalized misogyny. That's right! Why do we look down on feelings, and, especially, harping on, writing about, discussing them? Because they are as feminine as cats and babies. As girly as pretty, pretty princesses and snowflakes and romance and pom poms, and just as pointless, because feelings don't make money or amass power, and that's what the patriarchy values.

I rebel against my own internalized misogyny! Or, I am trying to!

Sing it with me: Who cares if a well-done theater production made me cry, or if I keep a personal blog? There is nothing wrong with feelings. There is nothing wrong with memoir, with rom coms, with Titanic or Twi--

I'm sorry, did you cough? What did I say? Oh yes. Twilight. I suppose you heard that it obliterated records this past weekend, propelled to success by a starkly young, female audience. To be clear, I'm no fan of the series. I haven't read the books, and you may recall that I could not have rolled my eyes harder at the first film. (As a viewer I felt like echoing Jeneane Garofolo in Reality Bites after she has suffered through the thousandth Winona Ryder-Ethan Hawke bantering session: "Just do it and get it over with already!")

But who cares? Anything that makes Hollywood pay attention to women and value female viewership is a net positive. New Moon is probably as melodramatic and sappy as its predecessor was, but most movies these days are loud and dumb. There's no reason to be especially disdainful of a phenomenon just because it's oriented towards girls instead of boys. Let us have a share of the stupidity!

Personally, I'd take Jack Dawson over Edward Cullen any day. Good, old-fashioned costume melodrama is more my style than sparkling vampires, and at least Jack and Rose got to get it on before he died helping to save her. But, as the true snobs say, chacun a son gout.

ETA: Pajiba agrees with me.


Meg said...

Your feelings are always valid! There's no reason to get away with it.

Anya le Dire said...

I know you and I know nothing about each other, sans the one-sided and near assumptive knowledge I have of your life, from reading your blog...

And such is the result of the blogosphere, I suppose... :)

I say all of this nonsense to thank you for writing.

In truth, you've kept me afloat...often...because you've survived and spoke, in the midst of grave and deep sadness.

So...from one blogger to another...thank you!

ester said...

Thank you ...

Claire said...

I have a lot to say about this topic (because who is more sloppily emotional than I am?) but I realize I'm too burned out from school to write any of it here. So, the next time we see each other, remind me to offer you my half-baked thoughts on eighteenth-century French aristocrats, their wonky values, and how said wonky values seem to still be at play in contemporary society... you know, because I'm a graduate school drone and can't seem to talk about anything normal anymore.

Britta said...

Last year I went to the funeral of my boyfriend's grandmother, who I'd never met. She was in her late 90s, had been deaf and senile for years, and apparently no one much liked her when she did have all her faculties. Few people managed to work up any tears, and those were mainly in memory of my boyfriend's aunt, who had died a few years before.
I on the other hand, despite never even having met this woman, sobbed through the entire funeral. Like, going through an entire box of kleenex sobbing. The whole thing brought back memories of the too many funerals I've attended, and I couldn't help myself. I know it's not terribly inappropriate to cry through funerals, but I felt and probably appeared extremely silly, a relative stranger crying my eyes out over an elderly woman no one would miss much.