What Stories Do We Tell?

 

 

 

 

 

Still watching likely Oscar contender movies, and still thinking not only about the content of the movies themselves, but also the context.

I’ve gotten through many of the predicted “Best Picture/Best Director” movies – mostly, as I wrote about earlier, all about the dudes (even movies like Ma Rainey, that are ostensibly about women) – and am now working my way through the predicted “Best Actress/Best Supporting Actress” movies.

My main “context” observation?

The women’s stories that don’t seem to “merit” consideration for the “big” awards are quiet, personal, and intense, as opposed to the men’s stories that do “merit”consideration for the “big” awards. They are (mostly) Heroic Tales of Men Doing Big Things.

This, to me, begs (at least) two questions:

First, why are “Heroic Tales” the only ones that are considered to be Important Stories?

Pieces of a Woman deals with the devastating loss of a newborn and the repercussions for the mother and her nearest and dearest.

Never Rarely Sometimes Always addresses how difficult it can be to get the abortion care you need even in states where it hasn’t been legislated nearly out of existence. It also highlights the beauty and intensity of female friendship (and is one of the best cinematic treatments I’ve ever seen of how unrelentingly creepy and inappropriate adult men are towards teenage young women).

The 40 Year Old Version charts a woman reassessing her life as a milestone birthday approaches and using that as the inspiration to recapture something she loved – and was excellent at – as a young person. Bonus romance with a handsome younger man!

Nomadland tells the tale of a group of people we choose, as a culture, throw away, and how they make their way in the world after that.

Second, no women are heroes?

Confession time: I hated 2019’s “Harriet,” the biopic about Harriet Tubman. Why? Because while the film recognized her incredible courage and determination, it positioned her as some type of “holy fool” who heard the “voice of God” and followed it. It diminished her. I say no. She was a brilliant strategist who knew EXACTLY what she was doing (and happened to be religious). She was a hero, not some sort of possessed handmaid. So were/are lots of other women, some of whom I highlighted last week.

Both problems are reflective of the male gaze, male ways of viewing the world, and #OscarsSoMale (pop culture, too). Men’s stories are BIG, women’s stories are small. Men are HEROES, women are their adoring audiences (who make the copies and the coffee). Movies about men are IMPORTANT, movies about women are “chick flicks.”

Well, fuck that.

Women’s history month starts Monday, and I’m issuing a challenge to readers. Next month, watch women’s stories. Read women authors. Listen to women musicians. Seek out not just women’s history, but women heroes, actual and fictional. If we don’t pay attention to us, no one will.

Image of Wonder Woman found here.

Like what you read? Follow me on Twitter @MrsWhatsit1.

(Belated) Words for Wednesday

Lawrence Ferlinghetti has slipped between the veils. May the Goddess guard him. Mayhe find his way to the Summerlands. May his friends and family know peace.

All This Damn Wax

I was having a discussion with some other magic workers about using tools in magic. We were talking about what we do when we set up an altar for a specific magical purpose and then, after the event has occurred, want to take the altar down again. The suggestions were pretty much what you’d expect: thank the items, smudge, store or dispose properly of the items, etc.

It reminded me that I once worked with a group that had members save all those bits of candle wax that Witches seem to naturally acquire. Once a year, we’d bring those bits together, melt them, and make ritual candles from the wax. It’s a more ecologically sound way to deal with the wax than throwing it away and the new candles tend to be imbued with the magic of he group. The supplies were pretty simple: a crock pot devoted to this use, some paper cups for candle molds, and some candle wicks from a craft store.

How do you take down your altars and what do you do with the items?

Picture found here.

Monday at the Movies

Is this really worth subscribing to another streaming service? What say you?

Sun on Snow Potpourri

The rate of new COVID infections has begun to drop, although we still have a long way to go and new, more contagious variants of the virus may make it even more difficult to get “back to normal,” which, as we all realize, won’t look like the “old normal.” But as more and more people are vaccinated and we begin to emerge from this epidemic, it may be helpful to begin thinking about what you want to “bring back” with you. There’s an awful lot we’re looking to leave behind, but what nuggets of wisdom or new information will you want to keep?

Son and a number of my friends say they will continue to work almost exclusively from home. They have the kind of jobs that allow them to do so and they’ve found that not having to commute frees up valuable time for other things. Grocery shopping has long been one of those chores that I really dislike and I’ll probably continue to get my groceries delivered most of the time. Zooming allows people from a wide geographic area, people with disabilities, and people of limited means to participate in conferences and I suspect that a number of groups will continue to meet via Zoom. Are there things that you’ve learned that you’ll want to keep?

Have you seen this? Marco Visconti has colorized photographs of esotericists from the mid-nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and they’re — wow. You’ve probably seen a number of these in black and white, but you’ll want to see the colorized versions now.

Speaking of recent history, if you enjoyed (I did!) The Dig on Netflix, you might be interested to learn that Edith Pretty, on whose property the Sutton Hoo mounds were found, was a serious spiritualist who dreamed the contents of the mound before it was excavated.

Balthazar, on AcornTV, is an interesting exploration of what it’s like to live with ghosts.

This looks good!

Get your postcards on.

Picture found here.

Happy Women’s History Month?

Facepalm: Picard, Riker, Worf

I recently received the March issue of The Atlantic in the mail. Cover story: Four people (two men, two women) writing on topics in Black history.

For the March issue.

Let’s be clear: I am not saying that the history of Prince Hall or the 1965 Voting Rights Act aren’t important. Absolutely not. The “Inheritance” project The Atlantic recently launched is also critically important. And there are eleven other months of the year in which they could talk about it. (I’d totally be up for a March focus on the civil rights movement, using the recent publication of The Three Mothers as a jumping off point to re-examine, re-surface, recognize, and elevate the role of women in the movement.)

But MARCH IS WOMEN’S HISTORY MONTH, and there’s been some pretty historic shit going down lately.

Just off the top of my head:

Less than a month ago, after 244 years, the US inaugurated our VERY FIRST woman Vice President, Kamala Harris. Fun fact: She’s also our first Black *Vice* President. Fun additional fact: She’s also our first South Asian Vice President. Her story seems pretty historic to me.

We’re about to have our first First Nations woman in a Cabinet position when Deb Haaland is confirmed next week (Goddess willing). A First Nations woman will be running the Department of the Interior. Her story also seems pretty historic to me.

Speaking of First Nations women, they were integral to organizing the Standing Rock protests against the Dakota Access pipeline. They started work FIVE YEARS ago, and things looked pretty fucking bleak under both Obama and TrumPutin, but guess what just happened? President Biden shut down the Keystone Pipeline, and he’s being strongly pressured by the Standing Rock folks and the many, many allies their work has gathered to them to do the same for Dakota Access. That would be a great story to tell.

Speaking of organizing, the New South is a thing, and it’s women who are creating it. I’d love to see a piece on the tireless organizing work of Black women in Georgia (Stacey Adams, LaTosha Brown, et. al.), and what’s happened in Virginia, where Representatives Elaine Luria, Abigail Spanberger, and Jennifer Wexton all flipped previously red seats in the House of Representatives in 2018 – and got re-elected in 2020. Women did ALL that (plus flipping BOTH houses of the Virginia state legislature in 2019, which has had ENORMOUS positive results for residents of the Commonwealth). That’s a hell of a story.

You know who else had a MAJOR impact on the 2020 elections? First Nations women in Arizona, who organized Navajo Nation and helped deliver the state to Biden/Harris AND give us two critically important Democratic Senators. It’s because of them that Madam Vice President Harris is getting to cast all those tasty deciding votes in the Senate.

Speaking of Congress, has anyone else noticed all the amazing “workhorse” Democratic women who’ve been elected to the House of Representatives lately and who aren’t always show-ponying their way into the spotlight? Women like Lauren Underwood, Lucy McBath, Val Demings, Stacey Plaskett, Katie Porter, and Ayanna Pressley? I’d love to learn more about any/all of them. And these are just the ladies who’ve been elected LATELY. Not for nothing, I’m ALWAYS up for a piece on Maxine Waters, Marcia Fudge, Eddie Bernice Johnson, Eleanor Holmes Norton, or NANCY PELOSI.

Speaking of historical elections, although we still have significant work to do at the national level, trans women have made huge strides winning state and local races. Women like Danica Roem, Sarah McBride, Taylor Small, Stephanie Byers (in KANSAS! KANSAS, Y’ALL!), Brianna Titone, and Lisa Bunker. I’d also love to hear their stories.

There’s also a terrific next gen of activists, well, “coming up” isn’t really the right way to describe them. They’ve come up and are leading already, shining young women like Amariyanna Copeny (aka “Little Miss Flint”), Emma Gonzalez, Amanda Gorman, and Stasha Rhodes.

Speaking of artists, I would love a graphic novel style piece about/from Gabby Rivera on creating art as a queer boriqua (in part because I think she’s terrific and would love to see her and her work getting wider recognition). I would also love to see a “how I did it” style story about the incredible work Shonda Rhimes and Ava DuVernay have done to build the creative ecosystems they wanted to see around themselves – and the vision they had to even see it as a possibility in the first place.

Related to my post about this year’s (and every year’s) Oscar nominees and #OscarsSoMale, I would love to see Alison Bechdel (originator of the Bechdel-Wallace Test in her iconic comic Dykes to Watch Out For) do a graphic novel style treatment of why, in the year 2021, it is STILL the case that men’s stories are “universal” and “important,” and women’s stories are fluffy “chick flicks” and “chick lit.”

What about women in STEM making moves lately? Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett’s work at NIH was critical to the development of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. That’s pretty historic. So is “Astronaut Abby,” Abigail Harrison, founder of The Mars Generation. I think that would be a cool story for women’s history month. Or what about Emily Graslie? She’s no longer doing The Brain Scoop, but as Chief Curiosity Correspondent for the Field Museum from 2013-2020, she profoundly changed the entire field of science communications. That’s a great story, too. So is the story of Kimberly Bryant, who founded Black Girls Code.

I recently read an article about how the roots of QAnon lie in Pizzagate, and sure, that’s true. But the roots of Pizzagate lie in #YourSlipIsShowing, which was the “dry run” for Gamergate only months later. It’s been seven years, and, as you may recall, the QAnon maniacs and their fellow travelers recently tried to overthrow the government. Something tells me that Shafiqah Hudson, I’Nasah Crockett, Anita Sarkeesian, and Brianna Wu might have something important to say in this moment in our history.

I’m guessing Tarana Burke, founder of the #MeToo movement, and the women who’ve been organizing #TimesUp might have something to say now, too, particularly in light of the fact that nearly all the pandemic job losses have happened to women, WILDLY disproportionately Black and Latina women.

Or they could’ve just gone to one of the many outstanding nonfiction women authors I’ve read IN THE PAST SIX MONTHS to ask if they had any ideas for pieces for WOMEN’S HISTORY MONTH: Soraya Chemaly, Brittney Cooper, Isabel Wilkerson, Rebecca Solnit, Jessica Valenti, Rachel Louise Snyder, Kate Manne, and Ijeoma Oluo, just to name a few.

But nah. I guess no women have stories worth telling.

Image found on Pinterest.

Like what you read? Follow me on Twitter @MrsWhatsit1.

Madness

By now, you’ve probably seen the social media post from the (since resigned) mayor of a town in Texas. As Texas is suffering through a deadly cold snap and power outages, he took to Facebook to rage against people who expected their government and public utility providers to help them. Among other things, this “good Christian” huffed that:

“No one owes you or your family anything; nor is it the local governments [sic] responsibility to support you during trying times like this! Sink or swim, it’s your choice! The City and County, along with power providers or any other service owes [sic] you NOTHING!”

“If you have no water you deal with out [sic] and think outside of the box to survive and supply water to your family. If you were sitting at home in the cold because you have no power and are sitting there waiting for someone to come rescue you because your [sic] lazy is [sic] direct result of your raising!”

“Am I sorry that you have been dealing without electricity and water; yes! But I’ll be damned if I’m going to provide for anyone that is capable of doing it themselves! Bottom line, quit crying and looking for a handout! Get off your ass and take care of your own family!”

Here’s what I find most interesting about this. We do have a system for “dealing with” the fact that natural disasters can harm people and that, for example, crucial services such as electricity need to be regulated so that they do things such as winterize their plants even though that might cut into profits. That system is called “government.” The notion that our government doesn’t owe us anything is insane. Why do we even have government if that’s true? Also, electric companies get a lot of special treatment from society. They can condemn land for power lines, just for starters. In return, it’s reasonable to expect them to do what’s necessary to provide power.

We have GOT to get rid of this notion that government neither can nor should do things for citizens.

Words for Wednesday

American Sonnet for My Past and Future Assassin

~ Terrance Hayes

Probably twilight makes blackness dangerous
Darkness. Probably all my encounters
Are existential jambalaya. Which is to say,
A nigga can survive. Something happened
In Sanford, something happened in Ferguson
And Brooklyn & Charleston, something happened
In Chicago & Cleveland & Baltimore & happens
Almost everywhere in this country every day.
Probably someone is prey in all of our encounters.
You won’t admit it. The names alive are like the names
In graves. Probably twilight makes blackness
Darkness. And a gate. Probably the dark blue skin
Of a black man matches the dark blue skin
Of his son the way one twilight matches another.

*****************************

Picture found here.

Seen Online

Who knows why we were taught to fear the Witches and not those who burned them alive?

Picture found here.

Monday at the Movies

This is amazing. The section about how the Moon influences the behavior of brittle stars in a Scottish loch and the section about how owls navigate are simply mind-blowing.