I don’t often write about events the United States of America. This is a conscious choice. It’s too easy to slip into a completely US-centric worldview. I rarely feel a pressing urge to add my point of view to the endless, echoing din of thinkpieces and hot takes. My own small country, despite its relative insignificance on the international stage, has its own host of social and economic problem that could use my time and energy. The USA is not the centre of the universe, even though it sometimes feels that way.
But sometimes something happens and you have to mark it, even if you have nothing new to say.
Sometimes you just have to howl.
2. To be clear
I’m not here to discuss the various merits and/or failings of Clinton and Trump. I’m not interested in Clinton’s emails or her lack of charisma and all the ways she wasn’t perfect enough to secure a precarious victory. I’m not going to write a lament for an alternate timeline in which Sanders trounced Trump. I’m certainly not here to rehash every single racist, sexist, selfish, underhand, outrageous thing that Donald Trump has done or said in his career, because you’ve heard it all before and you’ve already made up your mind. And because I’m fucking tired, and anyway, it’s over. She lost and Donald Trump is President-Elect.
3. The world turned upside down
I’ve been drowning in the deluge of opinion pieces, each pundit scrabbling around for a narrative that answers the terrible question: How could this happen? It was misogyny! It was racism! It was a white working class revolt! The last gasp of neoliberalism! The end of the establishment! Except the establishment is now a woman who worked too hard to get what she wanted and the saviour of the working class is a billionaire bully who only cares about the working class as long as they’re screaming his name in adulation and baying for the blood of his opponents.
I don’t have coherent opinion. I don’t have a pithy analysis or satisfying explanation for what the fuck is going on. Sorry. And because of that, I almost decided not to write anything.
But you know what? Neat narratives about why things happen the way they do are part of the problem. Things are too fractured for neatness, too cracked for coherence. All I can offer is shards.Read More »
Right, Internet. You have driven me to it. I am going to write a post about Miley Cyrus and I have no idea how I got here.
First off: I have literally zero fucking interest in Miley Cyrus. For a long time I did not realise that Hannah Montana and Miley Cyrus were the same person, then I watched most of a Hannah Montana movie once when I was drunk. I think the screaming goat version of Party in the USA is comedy gold and there is a Miley Cyrus reference in an Amanda Palmer song I like and that was literally the extent of my knowledge of her until twenty four hours ago, when I became aware that I had missed the memo on her transformation from teeny-bopping American sweetheart into the gyrating mess of latex and lolling tongue that was jamming up my newsfeed yesterday morning.
As a piece of theatre, stripped of all social and cultural context, Miley Cyrus’s appearance at the 2013 VMA’s was abysmal. Her movements looked uncomfortable and uncoordinated, her costumes did not fit her properly, her voice sounded strained, the choreography was sloppy (I am generously assuming there was choreography involved.) Then Robin Thicke made his listless entrance and the whole thing was catapulted into the realm of the truly surreal as Miley’s cavorting became even more frantic and the presence of a much older man made her look even more like a toddler doing wobbly burlesque in Mummy’s heels and lipstick. It was awful. Nobody had a good time.
When I was an undergraduate, I took a module on postcolonial theatre under the tutelage of a Nigerian director called Bisi. In one of our practical classes, I was handed a monologue to read. The character was a Somali woman who had lost two sons and her husband to war and conflict. After I finished, Bisi asked me how I felt about reading it. I said I had found it really difficult, because this woman’s experiences were so distant from my own and I had never experienced anything remotely approaching that level of trauma or oppression. I said I did not know how to read it with authenticity.
Bisi told me, as though it was the most obvious thing in the world, that I must use my experiences of being oppressed as a woman and bring them to bear on the piece.
I was shocked. I think I spluttered a bit. I was barely twenty years old and I knew everything (obviously.) I wasn’t oppressed, I told him. Women in Ireland have equal rights to men. Being a woman has never prevented me from doing anything I wanted to do. He smiled and asked me if I honestly though that – “as a woman, in this country” – I was free from any sort of oppression? Yes, of course, I said stubbornly. He laughed at me and moved on with the class.
I felt patronised. I felt embarrassed. I felt that Bisi was endlessly wrong and I was right. I was furious.
I also promise I’m going somewhere with this.
If you haven’t been on the #solidarityisforwhitewomen hashtag on Twitter yet, you should really go and do that. Especially if you’re a white woman. There is a lot of anger on there and it is not going to be easy to read.