Thursday, June 22, 2006

feminism & heroism

just found a new site called the f word that i have added to my bloglist on the right. once again cannot sleep so composed a reply to the article the link is for. here are some snippets from the end that got me writing to them:

"For what it's worth though, I am compelled to come up with a quick show of my female idols as antidotes to FHM's Sexiest Woman list that is a product of our unavoidably gender-divided and gender-obsessed society. My own list encompasses many fields from the usual feminist suspects: musicians Tori Amos, Kate Bush, PJ Harvey and Ani DiFranco and some riot grrl pioneers, to Mariella Frostrup, Alison Goldfrapp, comedienne Margaret Cho, actresses Rachel Stirling (star of Tipping The Velvet: about as down-to-earth as you can be when your mother's Dame Diana Rigg) Miranda Richardson, Emma Fielding, Helen Grace and socialist-feminist Saffron Burrows. This is of course, a very personal and non-exhaustive list but you get the idea, and there's bound to be something for everyone in there.

Some I celebrate for their eccentricity and their expressed which to deviate from "the norm", some I celebrate because they can live out bland everyday existences whilst still maintaining a presence or charm that separates them from everyone else in their situation. The list isn't age-restricted (for God's sake, if we're going to celebrate women as a distinctive category, let's not exclude those over 25). Most importantly, it doesn't look at the scale of their impact in terms of how many column inches they occupy in magazines or how many people buy what they produce - but the scale of the impact they've had on the individuals who are touched by their work, in whatever way, however many or few that may be. Perhaps this, better than anything, answers the question: what makes a woman a heroine? I may have mellowed since my days of reading press cuttings in the bath, but it's still a question that matters to me, and probably to many young women and girls trapped in suburbia grasping for any scrap of inspiration they can get their hands on..."

responding to fhm & female heroines

not having come out to myself until i was nearly 30, i didn't quite get that my adoration of beautiful women (ingrid bergman, lauren bacall, katharine hepburn through to michelle pfeiffer, candice bergen et al) might have been a message to myself :-)

from my perspective as a teacher of religion, i believe that so many of the people with whom i have worked have an innate yearning for a hero/ine & model. since organised religion outside its most orthodox forms is rarely seen as the source of ethical behaviour - religion is blamed by so many as the cause of most of the ills in our world - there is a vacuum now where once religion stood firm. what is attempting to fill it? capitalism, materialism, consumerism - call it what you will. and its heroes are the pretty young things.

maybe i'm just an angry old bourgeois-socialist bleeding-heart liberal dyke who should return to my andrea dworkin shrine and ask my panda spirit guide for serenity. i'll try and quench my fears for michael owen's acl, and stop reading through 'people' magazine before buying it for my mother. i do, however, have hope that we can learn to be kinder and also be entertained by those with gifts for acting, etc..

meanwhile, here are some of my heroines:

my mother - for making a new life after the death of my father 2 years ago.

my father - one of my favourite feminists & g/l/b/t/q advocates

laura flanders - who, beginning in school and ever since, has sought her truth and reported it in a variety of media.

sarah waters

katherine hepburn

maya angelou, audre lord, alice walker

rabbi sheila shulman

jury still out on angelina jolie ...

honorary mention for the 1970's rodney marsh because i have always been a fanatical qpr supporter

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