I used to love Ani. I started listening to her when I first questioned my sexuality (of course!) and found a home in her music. She gave me someone to identify with in a dichotomized world of gay and straight that let me fall through the cracks. She introduced me to feminism. She made me see and hear and understand. Let me make an
attempt at poetry
i will forever be grateful for your presents in the past.
you gave us fierce feminism,
you gave me visibility
by never deigning an answer to the dumbest of all questions
- "in or out?"
you simply didn't give a fuck,
taught me I didn't have to either
and my first timid steps into bravery will forever be indebted to you
most of all.
but then one day i looked up from learning to be strong and you were gone
on closer inspection i found your out had disappeared into a seeming in
and no one asked you to clarify
because a man
does not make you any less part of us, damnit.
some women felt betrayed like some always do
but you hadn't lost me
i would never revoke your membership
in the little plastic castles that you single-handedly built for us
so when you said
"feminism isn't about equality, it's about reprieve"
i was impressed at first by your mellowness
tried for years to decipher the message.
but I should have known
that when you take a breath what you really do
and let go.
I get it that you needed a break
you fought long and hard and mostly alone
but did you have to figuratively bury our cause under a pile of dishes?
are you still "willing to fight"?
you could have told us it's time to take over
and we would have, willingly, and sent you into retirement with a grand ol' celebration
but you went quietly, you went quiet
and now reprieve has become retreat.
when you do raise a voice these days it doesn't sound familiar anymore
and I've lost yet another role model
not to patriarchy
but to the comfort of your own home.
Amanda Palmer impressed me with her abandon at everything she did. Her fight to make her music hers. To defy the system. Her struggle to make her own place in a world that belongs not to the weird but to the mainstreamed. Her music was intense. Sometimes it broke my heart, sometimes it put it back together. And it all just became one awesome nerdgasm when she married one of my favourite writers, Neil Gaiman.
While I came late to Ani I was an early adopter when it came to Amanda and equally I thought I'd stick around forever. Then she began to irk me, only slightly at first, during her kickstarter campaign. Her plugging on twitter became a bit too incessant for me (I know a lot of people would disagree with me so keep in mind that this is just my opinion based on my feelings). She was retweeting all the tweets of people saying they had contributed to her campaign and I don't like my stream getting cluttered, especially not by such non-information.
While I was glad for her that her campaign was so successful I didn't like how she handled it. When she surpassed her goal by miles I so badly wanted her to pay it forward by giving to smaller campaigns. To at least stop plugging hers and give some of her traction to others. (As someone who has run a mostly failed indiegogo campaign I know how hard it is for someone with much less traction. And yes, I can admit to being a bit bitter about it, sure.)
So I unfollowed her during the campaign. I refollowed after a while, thinking it would've gotten better after the kickstarter campaign was done. Ended up unfollowing again. Just couldn't relate to her tweets anymore. Back then I was still convinced I didn't have to like what she tweeted to like her music. I had funded the kickstarter right at the beginning and while I considered downgrading my bid during the campaign I didn't.
One day the album arrived in my mailbox. I tried to get excited and put it on right away. The sad truth is, I didn't make it all the way through and I haven't tried again since. In fact, when she played Vienna last night I didn't go. We sold our tickets. Didn't even much mind the monetary loss.
I used to be so grateful that Amanda always played Vienna. I'd brave the impossibly unwitty Austrian audience, get over my slight anxiety of crowds, take an extra dose of my ADHD meds I could concentrate and drag myself out of the house so I'd get to see her play. It makes me sad that this isn't the case anymore. Even her decision to play the last three stops of her tour while she was actually too sick to sing angers me a tad. Yes, cancelled concerts are a huge disappointment to fans. But while others apparently don't seem to mind this, I wouldn't go to a concert where the person I want to listen to has no voice. I'm not paying 30 Euros (60 since it's two of us) to hear and uninspired crowd do karaoke. And while I can imagine the reasoning that she didn't want to disappoint her fans by canceling I do take offense in not canceling a concert when you can't give it your all because you're sick. Because that way people who are not up for a half-assed karaoke concert can actually get their money back from the organiser. The impression I got was that AFP now considers herself "larger than life" - as in the crowds should at least be happy they get to see her on stage.
But the thing is, I came for your music, your voice - both literally and figuratively - and I can't hear it now.
There's others. Tori Amos, for instance. I wasn't a Tori fan to begin with but by falling in love with someone who says Tori's music saved her life I obviously investigated. I didn't connect with every song, some I still haven't even listened to, some I've listened to but I still don't understand, some have touched me deeply and grown into favourites of mine. And suddenly I had a closer look at one of her concerts here in Vienna and saw that she had work done. Tori Amos - who once spoke out about the importance of being yourself - not aging with grace! Apparently, she had decided that to her being herself meant not looking like herself anymore. I didn't know how to wrap my head about it. I could sense Finn's disappointment. I still love Tori's music today. But occasionally, when I see a photograph of her, my feminist heart will shudder a bit.
There are people like Neil Gaiman and John Irving whose writing I've always liked but they're not role models to me. Aaron Sorkin is a writing genius but he also has some issues when it comes to writing female characters so no.
It feels like I'm a child with a handful of balloons trailing behind me and one by one they tug free of my grasp. At first I don't notice because I'm having fun and the others make up for the pull of one balloon lost but then I turn around and most of them have flown and blown away. Life has at least been kind enough to tie one single balloon to my wrist - like a parent that knows its kid will let go and then have a tantrum. It's my first balloon and it sticks around because it's tied to me. All the other ones I picked up on the way, sometimes so many that they could almost lift me off the ground. But no one's been smart enough to tie them down. So again and again I find myself empty handed with no role models to hold on to, with nothing giving me the impression that I could fly. Except that one that is Joss Whedon, my brightly shining star of a role model. Extraordinary storyteller, excellent writer, feminist.
How odd is it that the best feminist I know of is a man?
I figure if I want to avoid disappointment I'm going to have to find role models in people who are already dead, because people change and people evolve and I get that and support that. But I'm also holding on to that last balloon like crazy.
an attempt at poetry by andie katschthaler is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.