Letters from Rosie 6
Received another excellent, thought-provoking email from Rosie, partway inspired by my recent Tall Tales And True post.
Just read Tall Tales. Want more. I’m going to tell you what I’m thinking and I’ve been thinking it for a while.
Yr blog posts, although plentiful in number, are too short for my tastes. I want stories, ET. I want long, meandering,been-sitting-here-listening-so-long-I-am-now-a-bit-cold-and-need-a-blanket rock histories, like Ilyiad-level mythologies. The subtleties of yr writings here (the lack of names, particulars), may confuse the common reader, but fuck that – write for the few, the faithful few who know yr writing and yr persona so well they can anticipate yr meaning.
I know a lot of great white working class boys in Belfast who love The Rolling Stones. No further analysis is required. But for me, I can’t be arsed with them because of Mick Jagger. I think Mick Jagger is a mean man. My mum always used to say you could tell who was mean from that 60s generation because the mean ones were all still alive! Dylan, Jagger – they were in the fray as much as Edie or Brian Jones… but they looked after number one and hence are still with us today. It’s hard to kill a bad thing. When Mick Jagger got knighted, me and my mum had a chuckle. She was a pretty respectable lady but even she couldn’t believe Jagger would tow the establishment line like that. She said, “The reason why he accepted it is because in his head he’s probably seriously thinking, ‘Yeah! I deserve this!!’”
Some things I’ve been thinking about on the side – re: the Nils Fax Spat (really, really interesting for so many reasons). I know a lot of amazing, sensitive and liberal guys, but on a couple of separate occasions recently, I was talking to a few of them about being a feminist and they flat out told me they are not comfortable around such women. In the past I have always just dismissed this kind of response, but these are males I respect and know respect me. The question for me is, why does the word feminism grate on some liberal/intellectual men? I think it’s not political – I think it’s a personality clash!
I know three men on planet earth for whom feminism is an exciting, cool word. You, my best friend Steven Rainey and another friend Ricki O’Rawe (in a band called Not Squares), and it’s really down to these men’s personalities. They just aren’t threatened by the word. They have crushes on Xcene Cervenka and read Love And Rockets and hold reading groups in their flats and start bands with girls in whom they are not romantically interested and are flattered if you compliment them on their empathy and/or verbal communication skills. God, those types of guys make my world turn, I tells ya. But they are a type and a fluke. I don’t think you can set out to be that guy. I think Calvin and Slim and Kurt could be added to that list – but I don’t know them personally.
The thing is – I don’t want to alienate all the other awesome guys I know when I call myself a feminist. So how can I be an active feminist without being scary? Scary, pompous, affluent white western women looking for an enemy in the bloke next door are… not cool and not really helping the movement. I’ve been reading Christina Hoff Sommers. Equity feminism she’s calling it. But she seems like a bit of a conservative in some ways. Kathleen Hanna recently said in an interview that feminism in yr twenties can be an argumentative time, and that the expression of yr politics balances out and mellows as you get older and yr activism becomes more focused and more effective. So I guess I’m going thru a typical twenties feminist phase.
Lady Gaga keeps saying she’s redefining sexiness. She’s not traditionally beautiful. Hence the hyper-ornamentation. She hasn’t got much of a choice. Patti Smith said of Tom Verlaine (via Dylan), “It’s a rule in rock’n'roll that somebody somewhere must stand naked”. In the mainstream music industry, at the level she’s at, with that saturation exposure, it takes a kind of courage bordering madness to be an average-looking female. You can be an average musician and songwriter at that level, ironically, but you can’t be short-chinned and big-nosed. And yet she’s up there. She couldn’t be there in her natural state – no makeup, brown hair – the world wouldn’t want her. So she has swung violently the other way, in terms of creating a theatrical persona, as opposed to going under the surgeon’s knife. Therefore she IS re-defining sexiness.
She reminds me of the queens in Paris Is Burning; the quest for ‘realness’, meaning the western ideal of natural beauty. It also reminds me of what Courtney has said too – her theories about the crime of being ‘undecorative’ and being too tall to be truly beautiful – that beauty is power… how do we smash that idea? In increments. This Gaga person can have an effect… by refusing to have any plastic surgery. Keep the small boobs and the big nose. I really hope she does.