Thats how I looked just before I wrote this.
I haven’t written for some time now.
My voice is silenced by fear. Never before in life did I have this concern. The one place I could be free was with words. I saw them as friends. Even as a small thing of five and six I wrote little books about the things I saw and the people I loved. My mother played strongly as a super hero or victim and all reality swirled about her. My stories were the only place my mom could appear as big as she really was. We both knew it.
I’m angry about being silenced. I’m hurt by the advice that perhaps I say too much, that it makes me look bad to admit that I wake up afraid sometimes for me and for every other person who isn’t in charge of a planet taking a seriously wrong turn, that I shouldn’t admit I have been depressed at times and lived through it even though I didn’t want to and that being exhausted by trying to make a go of life all alone makes me wonder if I’m doing the right things. I’m told to answer the question, “How are you?” with “Fine” no matter if it’s true, that grief has an expiration date and that no one wants to “deal” with someone who is too expressive. It’s apparently important to pretend to be winning at all times and to act as if feelings are not a part of my vocabulary.
But I keep asking, or more like screaming, silently, “Why? Why is it wrong to admit to being what we all are anyway?”
I’ve conducted hundreds, maybe thousands of interviews, and I find one consistent reality–that what you feel is being felt by someone else–probably villages full of someone else who shares it all. If you’ve thought it or felt it -so has some one else. I’m not the only person who got depressed when “it” didn’t work out with that love interest and couldn’t quite shake it and I’m also not the only one who wakes early in the morning wondering if I’m actually a decent person or a fraud.
Fuck it. I’m supposed to wear pearls and heels, speak in whispers about real things and lean against walls discussing polite weather patterns because that makes someone, somewhere happy–a someone I don’t think I should give a damn about. Because there are no polite weather discussions anymore. We have had the hottest summer to date–ever. We have huge swaths of land in drought–the places that grow most of our food. We have ridiculous consumption when our earth is dying. We are burning ourselves to the ground in denial. I’m supposed to be polite. Why the hell would anyone want to do that?
As an instructor at a small liberal arts school I’ve learned some new terms to describe this silencing–it’s called “White, male normative.” It basically means, ‘shut up woman while I enjoy my drink and watch mindless sports on T.V.’, it means like what I like, believe what I believe and if you don’t then shut up about it. It means I hold the power and I say what is important, not you. It means you will beg for a place at the table and I will decide if you get to sit there. It means even if you get to sit there it is due to my generosity so don’t blow it by being authentic. It says I am right, you are wrong. I am big and you are little. I hold the power and if you forget it–woman, gay person, person of color, person of another ideology–I will see that you are punished. It’s the subtext that exists in every discussion in this country. We’ve rewarded a bully class of white guys and I doubt they are any happier about it than we are. I bet they’d love to just break down and cry and say, “I don’t know what to do and I’m really scared at least half the time.”
I’m ready to pull a full Jesus and flip the tables over and yell “hypocrite!” to our systems that have failed all of us but that weird, vague and creepy one percent. Of course we all know how that worked out in history for Jesus eventually. So to avoid being nailed up in a town square–or as we do it now being locked away on some bogus charge or discredited by some false scandal–I am supposed to be quiet, not talk about the things that hurt, post pictures on social media of the sweater I did not knit..because I don’t knit but apparently should–and walk around the crazy, ridiculous and false white normative that keeps saying there is nothing wrong here. There is nothing wrong with black churches burning, there is no problem with police in military assault gear killing our black young men,there is not a problem with telling other countries they cannot have weapons while we are armed to the hilt, there is nothing but calm and safety around a huge amount of guns used to kill little kids going to school and it’s not a problem that our planet is burning and our water is drying up. I am not supposed to suggest that it might be time to examine factory farming practices, vicious amounts of waste, the incredible expenditure on sports stadiums while schools are falling apart or the fact that our national religion is killing and oppressing as many people as Islamic extremists because the problem isn’t belief but extremism. Extremism about the Second Amendment and disregard for the First Amendment–extremism about who God loves and who “he” doesn’t and a complete failure of rational thought that clearly shows this extremism is not working–not for anyone.
I did not say any of that because I am playing ball now. I am being polite because I don’t want to look bad. If I look bad or not successful I will be banished where bad girls go who speak out about the destruction of Planned Parenthood and the systematic stripping of our rights as women and about the solid fact that even though it’s been 52 fucking years since women were codified as deserving equal rights in the work place it still hasn’t happened. I dare not say anything.
Boys don’t make passes at girls who wear glasses, or read or speak their minds. That freedom is reserved for women who play ball and pretend not to care or support the white, male normative but pretend not to–women who run for public office making promises they won’t keep because they are still really begging for a place at the table and their seat can be removed at any time.
What would Jesus do? He’d go ape shit crazy on this madness. If you believe the book he’s allegedly quoted in he has some pretty strong words for people who oppress other people, who are disrespectful and unloving and who lie to serve themselves and feed their endless greed. Jesus would most likely be doing ten to twenty for some bullshit charge of having marijuana or he’d have been shot and killed by police because despite the pictures showing a white Jesus he would have been a person of color and based on what little we know he sucked at shutting his mouth even when he should have.
But lucky for me I didn’t say any of that so no one will think less of me. Fortunately I’m keeping myself quiet these days and acting like a proper woman of my age–whew..thank goodness. Dodged a bullet there.