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Archive for the ‘Oh, the Humanity’ Category

You heard me, Good Girl!  We, the good girls of the nation, must band together with greenish locks of striking tresses!

Green, blue, pink, whatever, so long as it does not come “natural”.  And I will tell you why.  I was raised to be extremely judgmental.  I was raised to see only a very narrow path of “Okay”.  In fact, I almost never invited my friends home because then I would have not been allowed to enjoy their raucous funness; I would have been forced to frown upon their giggles.

My second boyfriend, I actually gave him a list of topics that were okay to talk about, and had to explain to him in no uncertain terms that, really, it would be better if he didn’t say anything at all.  Because anything he did or said or breathed or smiled would reflect (poorly) on me.

I almost always went over to my friends’ houses to play, even when I was very young.  There was  different vibe there.

Not to say that my folks are tyrants.  But narrow?  Yeah.  Last year my papa actually said, “Gee, I don’t know what I would have done if you girls had turned out like your cousin; I know I couldn’t have handled it if you hadn’t been good.”  My cousin, by the way, is a misguided fool and only had a couple of kids out of wedlock.  And, if the Fool reads this, all I have to say is, Dude, if you ever brag about drinking and driving around me again, I will be forced to kill you myself to save the rest of the world.

My hair currently has emerald streaks.  My favorite was moat monster green.  I don’t use permanent dye, mostly because I tried it, and it didn’t work.  My hair hates things like perms and dye.  But I can, and do, stain it with Kool-Aid.

And you would think that after three years, my mother wouldn’t freak every time she sees a change in tinting.

I even offered to let her choose a color.

When I was younger, I freaked out about this sort of thing myself.  I was well-trained for most of my life.  A friend got a tattoo?  Gasp!  Dyed their hair blonde?  Horrors!  Wore something other than jeans and a t-shirt?  You’re just asking for awful things to happen to you!

Right before I graduated college, I bought a poodle skirt.  I don’t know why.  And I wore it.  Not on Halloween.  I was HORRIFIED.  I was terrified.  I really was.  And you know what?  That was the first day I actually felt like myself.

In elementary school, I loved dresses.  I always wore shorts under them because I was obsessed with hanging upside down on the monkey bars, but I loved dresses.  I played football in dresses.  And I was constantly lectured by my mother that, “No one wears dresses; you need to wear jeans!”  Once I finally outgrew those dresses, she wouldn’t buy me more.  She bought me jeans.  And by junior high, I found the joy (??) of blending into the background.  It was a new school with really bitchy cliques of army brats, so honestly, this was the safest thing to do.  I came up with reasons why a good girl would always wear jeans, never wasting money on “in” clothes, never trying to look “pretty” (’cause in junior high that was the equivalent of being a slut).  I helped them brainwash me into this until by high school, I was Grunge, with the army boots and the oversized t-shirts and the flannel shirts.  I was rebelling against Donna Reed and Marilyn Monroe forty years too late.

So why would wearing a poodle skirt snap me back out of this self-brainwashing?  It was a costume.  And apparently, that’s how I dress myself best.  I wear costumes that make me feel like me.  And honestly, isn’t that what clothing is?  It is the outward trapping of your tribe.  My mother spent her entire adult life wearing business suits with shoulder pads, in order to get respect in a business run by men.  That was her costume.

I built up my “costume” wardrobe.  It’s gotten to the point where, if I wear jeans because it’s freezing out, it becomes a sign of the apocalypse to my co-workers.  Or, if the owner of our company writes a note demanding everyone “dress appropriately to work at the warehouse for Black Friday”, you know that I’m the only one she’s really writing that email to because everyone else dresses in jeans and t-shirts every day, which is Modern Man’s Costume.

But it’s when you dye your hair green that you really find out who people are.  I worked for a university when I started, and oddly, no one had any problem with the color of my hair.  Academic types are apparently rather open-minded.  My boss was the first one to suggest I dye it.  He wanted it blue.  Which may or may not have been creepy (the jury is very wishy-washy on this).  My hair doesn’t do blue; there’s too much blonde and cherry blonde that turns blue into green.  The people who did have problems were all at least somewhat obsessed with conformity, and each of them goes out of their way daily to present a certain Face to the world, they spend a lot on hairstylists, they “do” their nails.  All of these alterations of appearance, including face painting, are okay.  They are culturally sanctioned.

It’s this sort of revelation that I want everyone to experience.  Dye your hair green, people!  Dye it, and free yourself!  Are you Really the invisible person hiding in jeans and a baggy t-shirt?  Or is there someone else inside of you who has just been too scared not to try desperately to fit in?

I know that a big part of this is Where I live.  The Heartland is the Heart of Conformity.  People aren’t celebrated for being different or thinking up new ideas here.

In fact, a couple weeks ago, I read a parenting article in an actual newspaper by a supposedly respected expert that ordered parents to never, ever let their children/teens dress down.  Choosing how they dress, to this expert, is a sign of disrespect if it does not conform to the standards of the suburban society around the family.  In fact, if parents are lax in dress code, that is the first slippery slope to degeneracy, in-fighting, and disrespect.  How dare a teenager dress like their peers?  Teens should dress as their parents want them to.

The writer’s proof is that, supposedly, there are no delinquents in third world countries, and that, until a century ago, there was no such thing a malcontent among teens.  (Forgetting, of course, that in many of those third world countries–in South America, Africa, Asia, etc–gangs are groups of militia with child soldiers.  Additionally, it’s only been in the last hundred years that child labor laws and laws about mandatory schooling have prolonged “childhood” itself and pushed far back the age when children/teens are allowed to become contributing members of society.  There really is nothing to compare.)

And me with my freshly emerald hair, me, a fully respectable grown-up who looks back on all the hiding and shame of my younger years when I was forced to never express my own self, I just stared at the newsprint, flabbergasted.  Because when I look back at my childhood/teenage friends, especially the ones who did something with their lives, they were the ones who chose their own clothes, and maybe it was Ska style with a wallet chain and a newsboys cap before that was stereotyped, but these were the kids who grew up to be the most successful.  And yes, each of them probably has one tattoo, or more.  And the friends who most upheld the Facade of Decency, who paid lip service to the grown-ups, who played the part, well, they were the ones who chickened out on following their dreams or who got arrested for embezzlement at age 18.

I grew up with only two distinctions.  Things were either Good or Bad.  Every book I read, my mother would stop me and demand to know if it was Bad.  Not because she wanted to have a conversation and find out if the book was any good, no, her question was always, “Is that BAD?”  Because she knew I was honest enough to tell her, and then she could confiscate it.  At which point, was the book actually BAD, or was I just worried that it wouldn’t meet her high standards?  People fell into these same categories.  I was expected to judge them with high standards, and avoid being friends with BAD children.

But now that my hair is emerald green… and I myself am BAD… it’s very freeing.

night,

dawn

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After twelve hours at work today, I’m feeling just a smidge arguably mentative.  It’s that time of year.  I might have to wear my horns tomorrow.

Oh, Sibylle.  Why must you vex me so?

I admit, I’m not far into The Mother: Archetypal Image in Fairy Tales.  But does that mean I can’t have an opinion?

Dearest darling Sibylle says:

“The father symbolizes the active, creating principle, the mother the receptive and nourishing one. Although, as we shall see, there is also a spirit mother, the mother principle is primarily on the side of nature in the sense of the instincts, the physical drives” (p. 14).

Okay, she’s a Jungian.  Which does not curdle my cheese nearly as much as if she had been a Freudian.  But upon this night, I say unto thee, I sure is tired of folks jumpin’ on the bandwagon!  So one bloke had a theory.  And he would just Not Shut Up About It.  (We’ve all known guys like that.  They usually end up alone at the bar and no one will talk to them.  But then there are the rare few who get an audience, for whatever reason, perhaps it is their charisma, or their evil mustache, or it’s to annoy your mother… and then John-Bob says, “Oh yeah, I know that guy,” even though he doesn’t, and suddenly it’s A Thing.)

To which I rise up tonight and say, Avoid The Thing!

That’s right!  You heard me!  You’ve got a head on your shoulders; why don’t you use it?

It is simple, dear readers; the head upon said shoulders is rarely used because my generation spent twenty years in classrooms being told that our opinions did not not matter, they were opinions, but when Freud said something, his was not an opinion but fact, and so stop arguing and purporting to have opinions.

I actually do sadly look back at the best minds I collected in my university, the ones who were enthusiastic and creative and Doing, and I watched Every Single One of them deteriorate into a sad pathetic lump that will never again make up primordial soup.  The soup doesn’t want them.  Not in their present states of disillusion.

And all because, like the writers of so many of these treatises of Thought, they jumped on someone elses’ bandwagon, and being on the bandwagon makes you invisible as it forces the entire world into that train of thought and no one gets out their own building blocks to build up a brand new idea.

No one can hear you on the bandwagon, even though you think that’s the best way.

And no one is ever going to listen if you have your own idea.

Because first you need a fan base.  You need an Influencer.  You need someone (other than your mother) who already has a Voice (although may not have anything much to say with it) to say, “Yesssss, people, that there is an Idea and I myself discovered it!  And so, people, you must buy it!”

Okay, enough disparaging poor old Sibylle for forcing the entire world to fit neatly into Jung’s idea.

Because now we get to the grit in my craw.

The male, the father, the man, is the Active one.  And the female, the mother, the woman, is fucking Receptive.

A nice polite way of saying she’s Passive.

Which is true of the rewritten and edited fairy tale versions, particularly of Grimm and Disney, which were mostly gathered by men in the 1800s and used to tell the world (and women) what they the men wanted… which appears to be some sort of necrophilia.  A passive nurturer who will never argue and will go out of her way to care for his every need.

You may say, But Dawn, this is no longer true.  Women are “liberated” and arguing against certain fairy stories nowadays is ridiculous.

But I am looking at four generations of women here. I’m looking at my entire generation in the Midwest.  And I’m seeing it.  All of it.

I see the passive girls.  I see the girls who purposefully get pregnant to trick men into marrying them and “taking care of them” so they don’t miss “that great opportunity” for a husband–at the age of 18.  I see the sexist men who won’t let their grown daughters go to college.  I see the girls who are belittled for having an opinion.  I see the Pink toys that are given to young girls which are nowhere near as complicated as the equivalent toys given to boys their same age and skill level.  I see the parents and grandparents perpetuating this when they call and demand to know if the unicorn comes in more “boy colors” than white.  I hear grandmothers (loving, saintly!) say (word-for-word), “We can’t give THAT to the girl; she ain’t as smart as the boy!”

Toddlers and preschoolers are just starting to come into an understanding of their lives and where they fit in our society, and they will do anything to be loved.  Their limited understanding of their positions is based on the stereotypes that adults force down their throats–and in order to “gain our love”, they go out of their way to try to act out those roles.  To “play house” and “princess” like they are “supposed” to.

We are self-perpetuating when we say that we buy pink toys for the girls because they want them.  They ask for what they think WE want them to want.

Finally, “the mother principle is primarily on the side of nature in the sense of the instincts“…

Do you know why this part of the Feminine stands out the most?  For the last thousand, two thousand, three thousand years, most women have been banned from formal learning.  Most were not taught to read nor write.  Most have been discouraged from thinking or stating an opinion to their husband.  Most just hoped to become the Property (which is exactly what marriage legally did to females) of a man who would not beat her, and one who would bring home food.

I look back at the previous two generations, at the “Gee, honey, I hope you buy this new vacuum cleaner for me to show me how much you love me”, at the women who dared not work after marriage, whose worlds were limited by the people their menfolk would drive them to visit, by the limited educations they were “allowed” to have by parents who believed girls should not be educated… and when one of these very Instinctual women tells me how much she wished she was smarter… is always, always telling me how dumb she feels… but who has a finely honed Unconscious, a mind that cannot process deeply learned theories but can look at a small group of people and explain all those interconnections… a woman who Hated so much of life and threw herself into several home arts just to have something to do with her very smart but very under-utilized brain…

I look at these woman, and I fully understand the dark depths of repression.

And here is Sibylle, a learned woman, just perpetuating them more by writing off a woman as receptive and a man as active… because that’s what was allowed… and because she bought a man’s blind theory… and never, not once, thought to argue with it.

Maybe because she thought that, by stroking the ego of all the Jungian Men, that she might just maybe earn their love.

Because preschoolers and toddlers and people with a limited view of social brainwashing (aka: cultural fitting-in-ness) will do Anything to make you love them.

And isn’t that cute?

night,

dawn

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Foooood!

I’ve come across a nifty website.  Freerice.com.  So you just try to figure out the meaning of the word, and then if you get it right, they donate rice to hungry folks.  Twofold!  First, I know I use my nifty vocabulary over and over, and rarely learn new words anymore.  Okay, I learn new medical terms all the time, but nothing I can use.  I think after a while, it really would help to improve your vocabulary, to know that provident = thrifty.  And then you’ll be even way better at Scrabble (which I haven’t played in a while).  Plus, I love rice!  And I don’t care for being hungry.  I see little problem with this. 

 Words, words, words!  I like them, even if Miss Doolittle doesn’t.  (Finally saw My Fair Lady for the first time.)

night,

dawn

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Fright Night

There’s nothing quite so scary as causing something you didn’t intend.  You say something you think to be actually rather nice–say your boss agreed that the staff does fairly well at something, and then mentions that it does much better than the staff of several years before.  Because of this and that, yada yada, actually giving a reason.

And you know your memory is not 100%.  Whose is? 

But you also think you’re pretty close to remembering the conversation, even if you don’t remember the impetus.  So you pass on the news to a co-worker, thinking this is a good thing.  Because your boss always says bad things about everyone.  So for once you said, It’s nice that we’re so competent.  And for once he sort of agreed.  You think you’ve made a break-through.

 And then the person to whom you chose to tell this gives a totally blank look and a couple minutes later says, Did I misunderstand you?

“Well, I dunno.  I don’t know what you’re thinking because you didn’t respond.”  And you try to retell the story.

And he gets up angrily and crumples paper and goes away and is PISSED.  And you’ve only once or twice seen this person angry anyway.  And this time, it’s your fault.  Your memory.  Or maybe it actually happened this way and you shouldn’t have passed it on. 

That’s truly frightening.  Forget Halloween.  Emotions.  That’s where the fear lies.

night,

dawn

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