I Am Woman



A few weeks ago I watched the Duplass brothers’ show Togetherness (we kinda binged s.1 & 2 over the course of a week or so ;-). Anyway it’s a good show, kind of like Thirtysomething for Gen X’ers if you will. Mumblecore meets family drama meets California kookiness, if that’s your bag. Not as much of a drag (so to speak…forgive me!) as Transparent is, but also a pretty tough look at keeping long term marriages together especially.

The reason I thought of it today was there was this one scene that really resonated. The character Michelle is (I forget why, but her marriage is a mess) pissed off/not wanting to do what her husband and friends are doing one night and suddely finds herself with a babysitter and unshackled. She is on a quest throughout the show to re-discover who she is, once the Mom-ness of having young kids has dissipated she seems a bit lost.

So anyway, she goes out to a bar, dressed probably how she dressed when she was younger and it’s a little bit weird/ sad. And I forget why but she walks to this convenience store parking lot (I really should just re-watch the episode but hang in there with me!) and there are these young teenagers hanging out – one of them gives her a light razzing and she walks up to him and owns him, not as a Mom or a girl, but, as a WOMAN, claims her right to be where she wants and act how she wants and not be intimidated by anyone.

She seems to surprise herself that she has the power to make the teens acknowledge she is just another human being and have it not be (too) weird. She's so calm and in control in this scene. It's kind of amazing. Most women her/my age would revert to shaming the boys in a "Mom" tone, it's seemingly our best outlet, but as someone who isn't a mom I always feel a bit fraudulent with that tack. Why do we have to nanny other people's badly behaved kids to avoid social awkwardness?

It really struck a chord with me. I am often confronted with hordes of teenage boys, they all walk home in our town at the same time, on a regular basis, clogging up the streets and sidewalks, making me feel like I have nowhere to go. And it can be sort of intimidating/ weird sometimes. Like sometimes there will be an odd (what can only be joking) catcall, and my innate reaction is to shrink, to be invisible, to not get made fun of, because teenage boys are scary and inside part of me is still a teenage girl who can’t cope with their gaze. But inside of me is also a latent New Yorker, a grown ass woman, a cancer survivor, and sometimes she wants to tell them to f*ck off (she mostly doesn’t!).

But then today I was walking past these kids, there were two or three boys and a girl I think, probably around 14,  playing a GENIUS game of kick a water bottle back and forth across a (very busy) two way street. Cars were honking at them but they were undeterred, very pleased with themselves and their potentially car accident inducing hijinks.
  
Now, I was young once too, it’s none of my business, I’m not a cop or their mom. Not my job. But as I walked past one solitary boy on my side of the road, he was laughing, hysterically, at the latest car honking at him, and he caught my eye, puffed his chest out a little and laughed some more as he met my gaze: SO full of the confidence of youth, it felt like he was almost daring me to scold him. And I just stared him down, breezily, with what I like to think was an impassive smile on my face. And I clearly freaked him out a bit, and sorry, but it felt pretty AWESOME! Maybe that isn't very mature of me.

He was a very cute boy, the kind of boy who can be mean to girls and still have them crush on him; he had that Keanu perfect face and hair thing going on. I was going into my g.p.’s office a few doors down which meant I had to backtrack past them again on my return. And as I walked towards him, he obviously saw me coming. I didn’t glance at him this time and right as I walked past him he mumbled, trying to be cocky but what came out more awkwardly with a fading, trailing comeback, “Hey are you lost...or something?”

He couldn’t resist the urge to try to speak to me, perhaps regain the upper hand, but I had conquered him with my one look. My one womanly, scary look. Or that’s what it felt like anyway! At any rate, I no longer felt afraid of what the kid might say to me, so whatever he did say didn’t matter, I had taken the power out of that particular exchange. Why are we as women (and maybe I speak only for myself here) constantly afraid of acting strong/not turning the other cheek when people (whatever their age) are being disrespectful?

Sometimes I think not being a mom or a high powered career woman has maybe meant I haven’t evolved into the strong, feisty authoritarian female it seems we are supposed to be by my age. I dislike feeling meek or girlish or I don’t know, afraid to speak up for myself. So yeah, this inconsequential little exchange in the grand scheme of things did make me feel weirdly empowered! Sorry young Keanu, I'm sure you will live to terrorize the world with your aggro and looks another day!

Also, before this happened today I did a very out of character thing for me – I put up a video on Instagram (since taken down because I am an introvert after all! ;-), of me thrashing around to the Pixies like a dork. Not looking cute or sassy any of the myriad types of vines/vids I wade through every day. I mean, am I the only one who gets sick of the ad nauseum “Pretty girl blows kiss at camera wearing sunglasses/pretty girl swishes skirt/pretty girl is girlie and inoffensive and perfect?" Oh - just me? Sorry.

So I was just goofing around, thought I’d try to play with my video/record some music for I don't know what on my new phone, made the mistake of putting a song on I like to freak out to, and it resulted in something spontaneous, something un-glamorous or pretty or enviable or Instagrammable in most of the ways that seem to matter to most people. And I just thought "Screw it, this is a real woman having fun/dancing like no one is watching, this is going up".

If my solitary un-cute drop in the bucket of hazy dreamscape snippets of “real life” made a single person laugh or feel less alone for not quite fitting the social media/ blogger mould, then it is worth it to me to appear ludicrous or lame or whatEVER.

I’ve been watching the show Halt and Catch Fire recently for the first time (I think it's so good! On Amazon Prime in U.K., AMC in America) and when you see the brains and ingenuity and inspiration that went into building the first personal computers, as traced by this show's early 80's narrative, it's a bit jarring (for me anyway) to assess where we are at now.

These people wanted to change the world, and they DID…but it’s hard to believe they would have fathomed that thirty years later the height of personal expression in 2016 would be people posting the same Snapchat filters all day long at each other. Of course there are goofy/funny Snapchats, too, but 99% of my and I imagine most people's feeds are the pretty ones, the girlie ones, the ones no one could ever say "Eew gross" at.

Sometimes it feels like social media merely has us all falling into imitative formation. It seems increasingly narrow and blandly powerless, the filtered  representation of self, of womanhood that permeates so much of our shared imagery. I think showing a little bit of goofiness/imperfection/personality is not something we should be so quick to gloss over or shy away from. Because that to me feels very constrained and teenagerish - not like the (occasionally immature and goofy) woman I for one now feel ok expressing.




4 comments

  1. Yay for feeling confident! Teenagers can be such weird little creatures. I don't really encounter them much, usually just at the movies when they group together and vape (what is that even).

    I loved your video!!! Why would you take it down :(

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    1. Because I am actually super shy about posting stuff. Especially outside the blog! :-/ #weirdo

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  2. This was a GREAT post! And you know what? I did love that little video you shared of you rocking out to the pixies. I do understand why you took it down. I wouldn't have had the guts to put it up in the first place. But you totally rock and I loved this post ten times from Sunday. Thank you for sharing. (And the stupid rotten teenage boys thing - you captured the attitude perfectly and also glad I'm not the only one who feels this way.)

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    1. Thanks so much Becky, it's nice to know sometimes I'm not just rambling into the ether! ;-) xo

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