Friday, March 30, 2012

Not A Pretty Girl (Ani DiFranco)

Lately I have been steamed up about women's issues. When I was in college I wasn't apathetic per se, but rather I could have taken them or left them but still cared. There was a women's collective, where they seemed to want to eat brownies and whine which scared me. Conversely, there were the Women's Studies Classes that I enjoyed. My teachers were inspirational women who were proud of my courage not just to express my voice as an artist but also as a woman. On the flip side, I was awfully giggly about boys and all I wanted was a man and never could find one. Yet at the same time, my mom was a Title IX Crusader and did a sit in with her teammates in college so that she and the rest of the women swimmers could have letter jackets like the guys. But at the same time, I did and still do giggle about the guys I date with my mom.

However, a few years ago after the end to a disasterous and abusive engagement my opinion changed. I had been so eager to get a boyfriend that I snagged the first guy who would talk to me. My ex cheated on me, occasionally hit me, was verbally abusive and made me choose between him and the puppets. When we broke up, I put everything that had happened to me in the act. I talked about how he threatened to kidnap me, how he had justified his post-breakup whoring while I was not allowed to see other men, and not to mention how he had attempted suicide to get my attention. I got two reactions from male comedians:
1. Wow, that is funny shit Brucker! I had a chick that was just as crazy.
2. Why are you so bitter? Maybe if you weren't so bitter he wouldn't have treated you the way he did.

Needless to say, those bozos are the same ones who use domestic violence as a regular punchline, no pun intended. So I never took it too personally. I know it scared off a booker or two. But then again, it was worth it in some way. Anytime you have to censor who you are for anyone it not only takes the life out of you, but the life out of your art.

This past year, with the advent of my TLC appearance I have been talking more about everything that I have been through. I got letters from lots of young women telling me how the men they were with made them choose between them or a career or passion. It was as if it was 1950s to some of these guys and these women should have been chained at the stove making them vittles and popping out babies. Other women wrote to me telling me about how they escaped an abusive relationship with an utter whacko and how they were glad to see someone like myself visable. Around this time, I was thinking of disguarding the routine about the ex. Then I changed my mind. There are young people who need to hear me.

Then when I was a talking head on YouNow I spoke about it more, making dating violence one of my many platforms. I spoke about it not just as a women's issue but as an everyone issue. I said that when the relationship reached a boiling point it was everyone's responsibility to end it. The kids liked hearing me and talking to me. I encouraged young people, especially young women to respect themselves and their bodies. Not to treat themselves as sex objects trained to swing off a pole, but rather as people who were smart and informed. I know that sounds so bizarre and weird but so many young women are eager to shed the clothes, jump into bed, and please a boy throwing away everything for him. And by the way he's never worth it. I told them to have pride in themselves, their opinions, women's issues and politics.

On young Scotswoman even called me an ardent example of feminism.

A lot of the young girls liked having me around. I was sort of a watch dog when some young male trolls encouraged them to shed their clothing, or used sexist language. Many of these young women also wrote to me pouring their hearts about love problems, both men and women. I told these young people not to get too caught up and to focus on their futures and careers. These young people began to look up to me, and it became clear why I was being given the platforms I was.

When I left YouNow, I found myself doing less activism. Actually, I sort of took a rest. I got tired of yelling. However, I made a music video for my single "Stay." In the video, the way I portray myself is as a Calypso, the cave witch who seduced and kept Odysseus as her captive in the Odyssey. Yes, she kept him prisoner, using her sexuality and making him essentially her slave. If that is not a feminist icon in classic literature I do not know what is.

Recently though, I have found myself back in the saddle as far as the activism is concerned. A few weeks back there was a post online where a "comedian" said something terrible about women letting it be known he thought it was okay to wantonly abuse them. I spent almost four hours arguing why such language was okay. He told me Sinatra referred to women as broads. But we also referred to black people as the n word way back when on the regular. Needless to say, a very angry, undereducated woman jumped on to defend her master and dispensed the c word and the b word too easily. I told them language like this led to attitudes of indifference towards womens issues, prompting law changes detrimental to women's rights. Not to mention encouraging attitudes of domestic violence. I also said if women allow themselves to be treated as second class citizens casually, the law will see it that way too. I was so angry I even made a youtube video.

A few days later I was called back into action when a "producer" called me for a meeting, crossing understood business boundaries. When I raised by voice letting this nobody know he had no business in my life, there were people who treated me as if I was the bad guy. If this were years ago, I would have taken his crap and cried. But instead I used my voice. He didn't like it but then again, by the way he treats women and speaks about women who sleep with other women as if they were put on this Earth to please him, his only gal pal is his right hand.

Since the making of my youtube video called "There's Something Wrong-Reasons I Hate Men Who Objetify Women" I have gotten letters from young women telling me how much they like the video, how much they agree with me, and how it helps to know that there is someone like myself to back them up. It helps to know that I am helping young women realize their full potential in this world riddled with men who see them as nothing more than a potential for a hot night. The tragic thing is, some young women only think that they are only good enough for that purpose and that purpose alone.

I guess me being independent is the reason I am alone but I don't mind it. I had a fling I wrote about and this past Saturday he called me giving me some excuse about where he was. It's not because he was anywhere. Probably his much sluttier Saturday option had fallen through. Rather it was because I wasn't by the phone waiting for his beckon call like a slave should be. Either way it's over. But the thing is, he was way too chauvanistic anyway. Our world's would have collided, and eventually I would have had no choice but to verbally castrate him.

In many ways I am an Amazon Feminist, someone who is forced to take on a male gender role because of a lack of men in my surroundings. I live alone therefore I do my own home repairs, kill my own mice, and even installed my own air conditioner. All and all, I am stronger for having done it.

A comedian friend of mine said a few weeks ago that there was no good feminist icon of this era. I want to be that feminist icon, filling that void and serving as a power of example to young women. When I think of other examples of powerful women I think of my mom of course, my sister and sister in law who are both a doc to be and a doctor, my aunts and cousins in pharmacy and denistry etc. So I am in good company.

What can I say, "I am not a pretty girl/I'm no damsel in distress/so put me down punk, I am not a maiden faire."


1 comment:

  1. April, you are a beautiful woman, and yes, an example to young women every where. All over this world, there are people learning to speak their truth, on an enormous scale. Many willing to die for it, and they do. Keep on speaking the truth! Much love to you! xo Jeffrey Lepinske