quote of the day: “strong female leads”

NYT: I Don’t Want To Be the Strong Female Lead

I have mixed feelings on the phrase “strong women.”

Years ago, a woman told me, “Most of my friends are…[pause]…strong women.” It came off slightly condescending, insulting, and confusing. Was she saying most women AREN’T strong? Was she using “strong” as a euphemism for “loud,” “difficult,” and/or “opinionated”? (Which women should be allowed to be, obvs.) At the time, I thought she was saying I wasn’t strong. I can definitely seem quiet, shy, and “nice” at first, before people realize I’m a diabolical witch with coals for eyes. But kindness and strength aren’t mutually exclusive.

Plus, fuck our culture’s obsession with strength! (See: the proliferation of “strong is the new skinny” quotes on Pinterest. YUCK.) Being physically weak DOES NOT mean you’re inferior. People who are weak, vulnerable, and/or marginalized need advocates and assistance–not in a paternalistic way, but in a way that acknowledges privilege and uses it for good. (Like donating to a homeless shelter or writing your local politicians or whatever.)

If lifting weights makes you happy, go for it. Be as physically strong as you want! But fetishizing strength seems harmful. The “strong woman” thing seems related to the “cool girltrope: “I’m not like most girls/women [because most of them suck]; I’m more like a dude!” Yikes. Internalized misogyny 😦

Anyway, I LOVE Brit Marling’s quote! Femininity is not inferior. YES to listening, empathy, and vulnerability, now more than ever.

dispatches from the end of the world

hello! are you still alive? good job!

it’s a weird time to be alive. emails about coronavirus are annoying. emails that aren’t about coronavirus seem tone-deaf. we got an inch of snow yesterday, in March. THE WORLD IS ENDING! everything is fine! i go back and forth several times an hour.

words, as always, are powerful. being concerned about coronavirus is either “freaking out” or “taking it seriously,” depending who you ask. being unconcerned is a luxury:

[T]he theory that this isn’t serious, the idea that other people are succumbing to a panic you’re way too cool to get wrapped up in, that’s not interesting, or thoughtful, or contrarian. It’s just cruel.

i already have hermit-like tendencies, but when it’s externally mandated, staying home alone suddenly feels isolated and empty and apocalyptic. then at Safeway, everything seems normal (ignoring the gaping holes on the shelves in the cleaning aisle). so much alone-ness seems like a golden opportunity to get in shape, like movie montages of the main character (wrongly imprisoned, of course) doing pushups in her cell. when in reality, i drink wine and lie on the couch, half-watching Bones and working on the same rag rug i’ve been working on for ages. so basically nothing has changed.

it’s times like these i’m oddly glad to not work in media anymore, not be a slave to clicks, not have to spin literally every topic into how it relates to coronavirus. (The 10 Best Nail Polish Shades For When You’re Involuntarily Working From Home! Affiliate Links May Give Us a Small Percent of Your Purchase!) it also reminds me of how privileged and fortunate i am to have a job where working from home is no big deal, unlike my cousin and her boyfriend, who work for school districts. will service-industry folks get fired? how many restaurants will have to fold? will this thing fuck up the global economy for years?! the panic starts again.

then i breathe, and make more tea, and look at my cat lying unconcerned in the sunshine. maybe i’ll go for a walk today. maybe i’ll tackle my stack of library books (another silver lining: no late fees indefinitely!). all we can do is wash our hands, try to stay calm, and help each other out (from three feet away, obvs). oh yeah, and vote for someone in November who ISN’T a willfully ignorant, unresponsive asshole grossly mismanaging the situation.

we’ll get through this. most of us. hopefully.

out of the depths

The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

(i don’t think pain always leads to beauty, or that “beautiful” is quite the right word, but i liked this)

Which Golden Girl are you? An existential crisis

I am a Rose. Always have been, probably always will be.

But I’ve spent most of my life trying to be the other ones.

Sure, Rose is sweet. But she’s the one you make fun of for being so innocent and optimistic and ditzy.

Dorothy is the cool one. Dorothy is the equivalent of being a badass, snarky cool girl in a leather jacket, chain-smoking and playing drums in a riot grrrl band and dating a woman totally nonchalantly even though it’s the ’90s. (Very specific, I know.)

I had a *~breakthrough~* in therapy today and realized I have been trying SO SO long to NOT be a Rose. (Excusing for the moment that no one real person can 100% be a fictional character created in the ’80s.) I was afraid as a Rose I’m not good enough. I guess I thought if I really admitted and embraced being a Rose, I’d have to hang out with other Roses 24/7 because the Blanches and Dorothys and Sophias of the world wouldn’t like me.

It’s silly, I know, but I was am insecure.

But you know what? Trying to be someone you’re not is EXHAUSTING. Beating yourself up for not being edgier or snarkier or more extroverted or having more sex is NOT healthy or productive!

Nobody’s like, “Yo, Rose. Quit being yourself. We need two Dorothys instead of one Dorothy and one of you.” That’d be ridiculous! (Also boring, right?!)

It’s like that quoted-to-death saying, “Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.” Being myself is scary sometimes, though. I’m very judgmental, especially toward myself. There are tons of things I don’t like about myself (still getting zits in my 30s! constantly running late! unwillingness to go to even the world’s most convenient gym!).

How is it OK to be myself when I “should” be so much better or even someone else entirely?

That sounds like a pretty shitty way to live, though. The only answer is to accept my Rose-ness and trust that the Blanches and Dorothys (not really Sophias, because she’s just so caustic…see? total Rose) of the world will still want to be my friend.

Plus, I tell WAY fewer stories about St. Olaf. 😉

Why people choose chaos over love

It is harder for many people to allow love to pierce their heart than to have chaotic, painful relationships…When I was an adolescent, a very dear young man named Eddie pursued me. I liked him, I enjoyed being with him, and one day I just froze up and couldn’t talk to him. Many years later I came to understand that I feared his love would penetrate my heart and open up a torrent of buried heartaches and pain. It was less threatening to date people who emotionally starved me.

from If the Buddha Dated by Charlotte Kasl

who i have a crush on

People who thank the bus driver.
People who tip extra.
People who let people with one or two items go ahead in the grocery store line.
People who help empty the dishwasher at work even though it’s not “their job.”
People who pick up litter.
People who flatten their cardboard boxes before recycling them.
People who put the toilet seat down and replace the toilet paper roll.
People who are considerate.
People who are kind.