Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Women Squirrels & Warriors

When you don't identify with the main group your society and culture depicts as "normal," you've got to get creative about how and where you see yourself.

Receiving a sharp shove in the direction of your imagination maybe isn't the worst thing, though. One thing I've done, as a generally queer-shaped peg, is to become a squirrel.

Squirrels are what biologists call a "weed species." (Humans are too). They can survive almost anywhere because they are champion, omniverous scroungers; they can re-create any old time; and they have a highly developed sense of humor.

I'll eat anything.
I also translate a lot.
That's how I survived in the Catholic Church for several years. I was hungry for what the Church had to offer: a vessel for the sanctity of flesh and blood, incense, stone, wood, and gold.
But every thing was relentlessly male, even the obviously female Holy Spirit.
So I translated stuff like the Creed, recited aloud every Sunday, saying "she" in places instead of "he":
"We believe in the Holy Spirit.... She has spoken through the prophets."

And, like I said earlier, I do that in Star Trek too. The female characters are such nothings, I translate myself into the male ones who are diverse and substantive enough to bear this.

But I tell you, it gets old. It's like there's always a drain on your battery; someone drafting on your tail. You're always driving with the brake on.
Even squirrels get tired and cranky.

Sometimes I'm angry about these limitations, more often I'm bored by our collective lack of imagination.
So when I find someone doing something fun and squirrel-like, it's like finding a fuel dump.

Someone like E. Katie Holm. Katie is a fine-art and commercial photographer who is launched on a Women Warriors project, which she is blogging about.
She's in the process of researching and choosing women warriors in history to depict.

Sweetly, she also pointed me to Leonard Nimoy's new book:
Full Body Project.

I had earlier blogged about Nimoy's book Shekina. While he pushes some boundaries about how we depict god and spirituality in this book, his women models fit snuggly within Western standards of beauty.
The b&w art photographs of Nimoy's Full Body Project, on the contrary, present as beautiful women with big bodies--really big bodies.

If you think Americans aren't prejudiced (not that anyone with half a brain would think this), try being a fat woman here.

[squirrel photo from E Baum's World, a compilation of stuff he finds funny]


Rudyinparis said...

"Drain on the battery" is right. I remember back in the day when I was studying philosophy (a bastion of radical feminism {snort}) I just got so fatigued always mentally translating the "he", "him", or "his" into gender neutral langauge. It particularly pissed me off with Wm. James, I recall, because his whole schtick was a type of accessibility... After awhile it became something I obsessively noticed, like a hangnail always getting caught on something. After awhile you just have to walk away.

Anonymous said...

Love the squirrel post. (Janis Joplin has a song called "Women Is Losers" with a refrain that men always end up on top.)

fresca said...

R: Thanks for that. Yes, it's especially draining when it's under the guise of enlightenment...

Janis's song reminds me of how Yoko and John sang, "Woman is the n-gger of the world." I can't even bring myself to spell it, but after working on world geography, I can tell you, it's still true in many places.

Lady Monster said...

Thank you for this post.
If you are located in the Bay Area, there is a church that conducts a Goddess Rosary service. I had a friend, Heather MacAllister that was raised Catholic and also held Pagan beliefs - this was her church (until she passed and we held her funeral here).

Heather was also the founder of the Fat Bottom Revue and significantly featured in the book, Full Body Project. I, too, am a model in the book and have Leonard Nimoy's permission to host a MySpace page for the book.

You can meet the other models from that site too.

Thanks for mentioning the book (how I found you), and best of luck on your search for more female empowerment. Heather was definitely a warrior.

fresca said...

Thanks, Lady!
I'll look into all that good stuff. Meanwhile I checked your blog and was sorry to see you are on hiatus: write more! (That's an invitation, not an order!)

E. Katie Holm said...

Thank you for mentioning me on your blog! I love the suggestions you sent me, and they are added to my ever-growing list. There are so many names I often get overwhelmed. And it really makes you wonder why, if there are so many names like I am finding, do these amazing women get written out of history (herstory)?

fresca said...

Thanks, Katie!
I think at the "storytelling" level of history, there's always been a broader cast of characters than in the "official" history books. We live in an exciting time, when the two are starting to overlap--and we get to help! So, let's get at it, eh?