Thursday, July 20, 2017

at the end of the night

so it may be the goddamn height of summer but check out the utterly boss velvet coat i just ordered for the fall (+ early winter, but not too much winter because i bet you dollars to donuts it's not at all meant as a true cold-weather coat):

fuuuuuuuuck yes. i feel like this is the year i fully embrace my victorian goth fashion sensibilities. (r.i.p. penny dreadful)

two more pieces of fashion bullshittery that i also bought because hahaha credit card debt, what credit card debt:

fig. 1 because i've wanted a slightly gothy fringed kimono robe for ages now (and that one is absolutely perfect), and fig. 2 because i've had my eye on that vest on ebay for many months and its stock was starting to get pretty low (plus when a lip service piece is gone, it's a 95% chance it's gone forever, because they rarely do second runs). nothing spurs me to buy a thing faster than the words "only a few left" or "limited time" or "soon to be discontinued". gimme gimme.

okay so enough with my attempts at ~fashun~ (i am a grown-ass adult still dressing like she did when she was 20) - i read not one but two thinkpieces lately, and they sort of connected, and i wanted to write about how they both punched me square in the emotions.

first up:

this was one of those "oh god, i could have written this" pieces, where you relate so hard to the author that you find yourself vigorously nodding as you read. like the author, i too was a disaffected white suburban teenage nu-metal fan in the late nineties/early 00's. it's at the point now where i can totally admit and not even be ashamed of it. (i mean, for fuck's sake, i got a rammstein tattoo, and not, like, thirteen years ago. three weeks ago.) (they're not really nu-metal, though.) (i will fight you on this.)

but the author outlines the internal dilemma very well, or at least in a way that i also understand: it's hard to go back to your youth and recapture the deep love you once had for those songs back when they spoke to you as an angry teenager. or, as one comment succinctly put it, "It filled a need, one that becomes less needy in that specific way and can be filled by other things, but anything that carries that kind of weight in your teen years retains some power." holy shit, yep.

still, there's a real hit of nostalgia when you hear the songs that "made feeling weird, alone, and different cool" (i felt this a lot at rockfest for sure), and for many of us in the late 90's/early 00's, that was the much-maligned nu-metal genre. i cackled when the article specifically namechecked godsmack's "whatever" and korn's "falling away from me", because i actually just listened to both those songs a bunch of times, like, only a week ago.

here's a great quote from the piece:

It would be pure romanticism to say that nü-metal — that maligned late-’90s subgenre of dreadlocked style, down-tuned guitars, and hip-hop beats — provided a real sense of belonging to a scrawny, shy kid like myself. The irony is that the very aggression that drew me to the music often repelled me; I could sing (and head-bang) along to the tough-guy posturing, and I could enjoy an entire lawn being ruined in tribute to a rock star, but I could never really get in touch with my inner Fred Durst.

i didn't fit into that mold either, but it was because i was a girl. though damn if i didn't try, as i had been trying for most of my young life at that point.

i'd always wanted to like the things that boys traditionally liked, because back in the 90's, there was no internet to connect us and spread the interests, so it really did seem like there was a line between traditional "girl things" and "boy things". and for me, a chippy tomboy who wanted to seem tougher than she was, that meant really digging stuff like comic books, hockey cards, and video games. (as a side note here, this also wholly explains how i first got into pro wrestling when i was 15. it was still something that far more boys liked than girls, and like i said, we didn't have the internet to connect us then, so i thoroughly enjoyed being an anomaly)

so when it came to putting out intimidating airs, being a girl who was vaguely into goth and nu-metal and violence was it. i wanted some armour against the world, and i wanted something that made me interesting. and to a point, i'm still equipping that armour today - maybe more than i have in past years. but it's because i'm alone out here, and while it may put me on the defensive, it also gives me a lot of freedom to define myself as i want.

speaking of that, it's a good segue into the second thinkpiece:

this piece - the link to which i've been sitting on for a while, sorry about that - examines the current "witch" trend in feminism and pop culture, as exemplified by singers like lorde and lana del rey. the article spins it off further to examine the idea of the witch aesthetic, how it's changing and how it's being applied to so many areas of feminism:

Witch aesthetics also have more flexibility than weaponized femininity does. You don’t need to go high femme to get witch vibes. You don’t even really need to go goth: Almost any aesthetic can be turned into a witch aesthetic if you try hard enough.

as someone who's suuuuuper into the witch aesthetic right now (see, uh, the clothing i just bought at the top of this post), this is incredibly relevant to my everyday life. (and i'd argue you don't even have to try that hard to witch-ify an aesthetic!) yet it also hit on the idea of "weaponized femininity" which stuck one bazillion chords with me:

The idea of weaponized femininity is that girls can take all the things the patriarchy throws at them — all the limitations and boundaries inscribed on their bodies and their ways of being, all the things the patriarchy uses to hurt women and girls — and turn them into things that hurt other people.

as i went on to briefly explain on twitter, i'd always chosen video game girls as my heroes when i was a kid, especially since i thrived on the fighting-game genre. there was just something otherworldly and awesome about the sight of a pixellated female character laying the beat down on her opponents - male or female - and it was that idea of strength that resonated with me, hard.

it wasn't that i was bloodthirsty or loved violence (...or was it??), but i do think i was born with a lot of rage that only got stronger as i realized the limitations the world set on me simply because i was a girl. i used to attribute it to my tomboy side, but as i get older i think i've come to realize that it's just the way i made myself. i figured out what kind of persona i need to project to survive in this world, and it was the kind that weaponizes femininity to a full extent.

i'm rough and intense and weird and full of sharp edges. i listen to loud angry music and i scream at pro wrestling and i wear things made out of black leather and spikes and i have a foul mouth and i got metal barbells punched through my nipples. i'm a nice girl, but i don't want you to know that, because the world takes advantage of nice girls, and i'd rather keep my defenses up so that doesn't happen to me.

(that's not to discount those who subscribe to weaponized femininity while wearing floral sundresses and lipstick. for sure you count, too! just that this is my only experience, and my story is the only one i know how to tell.)

at differing points in my life, my mother has both told me "i don't know why you need to be so cynical" and "i don't know why you need to be so hard at the world". but what she doesn't get is that it keeps me safe. putting up the armour and the defenses and the public don't-fucking-touch-me vibe has kept me safe for the last 15 years i've been out here on my own. and even if it's all an illusion, it's something i've wholeheartedly bought into, and sometimes that self-confidence is enough.

also, this rings so true for me:

It’s the fantasy of finding an escape hatch from the things the world demands of women — the enforced prettiness and sweetness and sexual availability — and turning the rejection of those tropes into power.

the only thing i've ever really wanted is to have a bit of power of my own. and achieving that is a hard, hard thing when you're female. but maybe that also ties in with the first thinkpiece, and about how i was always co-opting what i thought were "masculine" interests because i felt like the association - or, maybe, the assimilation - would keep me safe. if i could be more threatening than the things that would threaten me, then maybe i could exist in this world while also holding my head high.

sometimes when you're a girl, it feels like the entire world is just waiting for you to fuck up and say the wrong thing or go the wrong way or trust the wrong person. so can you blame us for wanting to have some power of our own, to defend ourselves or to keep us safe? can you really blame us?

anyway, that's all i have to say.

[ music | the sisters of mercy, "lucretia my reflection" ]