So, first of all, I have had a lot of questions about my newsletter last month, and yes, I am feeling a lot better. The hormones have kicked in and helped quite a bit. I am not sure that I am back to my normal self, but then I have had such a crazy-ass month I am not sure what my normal self should be like at this point.
Since I talked to you all last, I went to Chicago – and did double duty at a Duncan Dance Symposium and the Windy City Burlesque Festival. I attended the Symposium (and taught one session) during the day, and went to the festival (and performed on Saturday night) at night. In the moment I was totally charged up and could not sleep – but after it was over, exhaustion set in. Then, I was off to Baltimore for a work conference for a week. I was home for less than a week (performing in two shows while I was here, plus teaching classes, etc.) when I had to fly down to Los Angeles – again for a work conference – and then off to Oklahoma City for another burlesque festival. By the time I left for Los Angeles I was in the midst of a hella cold and feared that I would lose my voice in the 4 hours of presenting I had to do – but I managed to make it through. After I got home from Oklahoma, my body said a big “fuck you” to me for pushing through everything with a cold and gave me nasty cold- plus- migraine day, where I stayed for most of the day in bed and miserable.
As if all of this wasn’t enough, in this same time frame I got a nasty-gram from Facebook that I had to provide proof of identity or change my name in seven days, while I was on the road and while I didn’t have access to all the stuff I would normally have if I was HOME. (Argh!) I got offered a job promotion, which I accepted. And one of my guinea pigs died. I feel like I have had about six months of living in the past month and I am still exhausted and still getting over my cold. Life – you can be complicated….
While I was gone, Mr. Velvet went to see the new Mad Max movie – Fury Road. He loved it and was excited about it and said I had to see it. So, yesterday, we saw it. I was horrified. I mean, it was a well-done movie, but it was not a pleasant movie. It was violent and the people were mostly terrible to each other and it was very hard for me to sit through. Mr. Velvet was disappointed that I didn’t like it. And I thought about it a lot. It is a good movie. It depicts women as strong and important – and as bad-ass fucking caregivers. Is it a hard movie to watch? To me, yes – because it juxtaposes the caring and love of what are portrayed as real people with the animalistic, violent, and power hungry nature of strong users and manipulators. If it was all good vs. all bad, it would be easy to watch because then it would be like a cartoon – unrealistic and easy to shrug out of your conscience. But this is more realistic – you have a bad-ass fighting woman trying to protect and care for other women and trying to redeem her life and offer hope to others and you have women who strive for life and protect seeds who also talk about shooting people’s heads off and exploding a whole bunch of men. Because that is what you have to do to survive in the post-apocalyptic world that they live in. You still care, but you have to survive first because if you aren’t alive there is NOTHING and NOBODY left that will care.
So why does all of this matter and why did it make me so upset? Because we are in a society where most of our living isn’t really living. Where we “connect” through Facebook (instead of, as I discussed recently with the lovely Cookie Wolf, what she termed Real Life Book), where our problems center around malfunctions of our computers or other electronic devices, our games, our apps, our peripherals and where even corrections of those problems are dealt with through anonymous and computer-generated emails instead of with real people dealing with real problems. We are becoming cyborg-like. So hooked up to this electronic world that it is our needed “blood-bag” that keeps us going daily through life without somehow withering up and floating away into anonymity. Mr. Velvet sees students who think email is an outmoded joke and only communicate through Facebook or texts – forget about actually talking to someone on the telephone. Pretty soon we will lose our vocal cord capacity along with our ability to feel or empathize with anyone else. Because who else will there be? There will be only the mirror of ourselves and our emotions through our computer – because of course you know that Google is already smart enough to provide those things that you are most interested in. My work Google will not find the same things that my home computer Google will find which does not find the same things that Mr. Velvet’s laptop Google will find. Because it knows us. Big brother in 2015 is not the scary Federal government – it is the cyber world. No one knows us better than they do. We don’t even know ourselves as well as they do because now it has become their job to shape us – we are the product and big business is the consumer.
So, what does all of this have to do with Fury Road? Because the society we live in now is the start of the uncaring…the start of the lack of empathy and understanding. Because we are creating a world NOW where people are not understood or appreciated as people – just as commodities. We are already a society where the powerful are using us, where they are brainwashing us, where they are tearing us away from being human and humane. Because being in that post-apocalyptic society is very conceivable and all-too realistic.
The thing that scares me is that I don’t know if I have that much hope for women to pull us through and add the caring component to an otherwise fucked society – to work to create life. Maybe we will persevere – but we are just as hooked in to that narcissistic computer feed as men. I used to think that women who told me that women needed a place in government and business etc., because we bring a peaceful caring perspective that men don’t have, were crazy. I know women are important and I know we have a lot to share and provide. I just figured we were important because we were people – I didn’t think being women had any additional plus to bring to the table. I have been in a male-dominated profession for years and I don’t think of them as violent and I don’t think of myself as peaceful. I exist just like they do. I function just like they do. But, as I have gotten older, I see that there are differences. People say I care – well, that is probably because I do care. Do I care more because I am a woman? Maybe I do. As a society we always go on about women going nutso during that “time of the month.” Yes, that would be that time when we have less estrogen and more testosterone in our system than normal… That time when we act more like outspoken men perhaps? When we stop putting everyone else ahead of ourselves… that is when we become crazy-ass bitches. I have read a bit about the brain and about estrogen and what it does to us and for us and it is a very good thing. Women are different. We do think differently. And we are important to society because we are the same and because we are not the same. Our wiring is different – it is like a PC and a Macintosh. Some things are compatible and other things aren’t. We can do the same things, just we go about it a bit differently. And what we do and how we act can eventually have impact on those around us… (think PC Operating Systems pre-Windows and how like Apple the Windows environment was designed to be.)
Mr. Velvet also reminded me about the baboon story he told me years ago, which shows the importance of women to a culture… I will summarize it here:
Baboon society is notorious for being male-dominated and violent. There was one troop of baboons that lived near a big hotel that catered to the wealthy who wanted a safari experience. The hotel dump became full of lovely and exotic food that the baboons would eat. Some of the food was disease-ridden since someone ill had come to the camp. Since the hierarchical nature of the baboon troop provided the most and best food to the dominant male and less down the line, the more violent male members of the pack died as they had been exposed to the disease. What were left in the troop were women baboons and young non-dominant males. It took years, but this baboon troop is now peaceful and non-violent. This is a real, completely true example of women taking over and changing the dynamics and nature of a society.
So, what is the point of all of this? I usually ask this question somewhere at the end of my crazy ramblings… And I think that there are several points here: 1) we need to respect women and what they bring to the table, which can be the same and different all at the same time, 2) we need to unplug and relate to real people in Real Life Book from time to time, 3) we need to learn to think outside of ourselves and think about the greater good for society in general, and 4) we need to know that women are some bad-ass fuckers – do NOT mess with us… we will eat you alive and then go plant some fucking trees to celebrate it.