On the Colour Pink, Personal Conviction and the War on Femininity

In a flash of pink lightning and glitter raining from the sky, author of Mean Girls stylized column, “Pathetic in Pink”, Robin McGrath, bent on being the first to permanently lodge her foot in her mouth in 2015, was shooed from the internet by strong retorts by such journalists as Zaren Healy White. The role of the villain in this story? Writing a poorly executed piece of satire ribbing on little girls with blond hair, blue eyes and pink clothes. An article in The Telegram discussed the different sides at work here – characters taking the role of “Confused Reader” and “Silent Journalist” and “Editor Who Thinks Its Readers Fault For Not Getting It”. Confused Reader said she understood, from the use of hyperbolic and unnecessarily inflammatory language assumedly, that it was satire, but that the actual point of the satire was missing on her. It’s almost like the Silent Journalist was trying to prove to the Onion that she had chops but instead never managed to get to a point.

Instead, Silent Journalist only managed to be mean, belittling and superior to the little girls whose superiority she harbours a desire to squash. Editor Who Thinks Its Readers Fault For Not Getting It is either grasping at straws, also wants to squash the superiority of little girls wearing pink or was really busy last night getting her nails done and was like “b’ys does anyone remember anything about that article?” Nobody did because it was too irritating to read in order to edit.

Confused Reader is joined by what appears to be all of the Newfoundland people of Facebook in her confusion and unhappiness with the hateful article. One mindful yogi had this to say about the piece:

“One of my beloved teachers in Mexico hosted a ‘shakti’ meeting for all the girls in my program. During that meeting, she told us she wore makeup and jewelry to celebrate the divine feminine in her. In that moment, I felt a weight off my chest, relief of the guilt of enjoying makeup and dresses so much. The things that had been projected to me as ‘vain’ and ‘fake’. What is with femininity shaming? Beauty has somehow become the opposite of intelligence and strength. Forget that. We can have it all.”

Femininity shaming. Silent Journalist appears to be a token feminist from her writing – the hatred against gender roles that she endeavours to portray would so suggest. But I thought that was the whole point of the equality and feminist movement we set out on? That one could enjoy pink or blue or white or black and it wouldn’t be relevant to the core of one’s soul. That one could be trans or cis and we would believe they are both equal. That we don’t need to put down one in order to bring up another. I thought those people that want to be princesses could be and those that want to be gymnasts could be and those that want to be doctors, or politicians, or astronauts or whatever just could be.

I think I was personally offended by the article because it could have been written about my sweet little Olivia, the light of my whole life embodied in my sister’s tiny child. A little girl who’s sole purpose in life is to make her grandparents laugh, and her brother laugh, and to flirt with mine and my little sister’s boyfriends (she wants to steal them for herself). She recently stood in the cold at the Manolis L protest in Twillingate wearing a pink snowsuit, holding a sign that said “No Oil”. She was supposed to have a sign that said “Save The Sea For Me” , but she is a person with an active mind and she wanted a sign that said something different. But I guess that pink snowsuit made her conviction in the subject matter less relevant.

Well. That sounds insane.

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Not all murders are equal – at least not if you’re an aboriginal female

I find it confusing, troubling and mostly morally uncomfortable the way this government is bent on going from a set of facts to generalizations leading to a necessity for legislative change.  This year, two members of the Canadian Forces were killed in horrendously sad events – one in Montreal in a hit and run, the other in Ottawa when a gunman let loose on Parliament Hill.  Now we are talking about terrorism and reading about the Harper Government as it drafts new legislation to control terrorism.  Just like cars, girls and internets, Stephen Harper likes to roll out legislation fast, which tends to lend itself to a feeling of general discomfort.   Some experts have posited the new bill appears poised to backfire and instead play into the hands of those it seeks to fend off.  In another article, the CBC writes the new legislation will, among other things, place limitations on certain privacy rights as well as increase police rights of detaining suspects.  It’s not that I fundamentally disagree with legislation that seeks to reach the aims set out that causes me queasiness.  It’s that sometimes the show of drafting something is as important as the product.  And here in Canada, there is a complete lack of show in certain other areas.

The real reason my queasiness is exacerbated is because of the other 1200 deaths and disappearances of people in this country that are not viewed as being on “high on [the Harper Government’s] radar“.  In a study published this year, it was found that aboriginal girls are an easy target for human trafficking in Canada.  Are these 1200 missing and murdered women somehow not significantly enough connected to warrant an inquiry?  To warrant new legislation?  If there is a remedy for prostitution as a social harm, how can there not be a remedy for trafficking?  How can this just not be on one’s radar?

I’m confused because I don’t understand how two occurrences of a thing can translate into the generalization of terrorism and the need for new rights-limiting legislation, while 1200 occurrences of a different thing can translate into not being on the Harper’s Government’s radar.  What’s worse I’m more than confused, I’m actually hurt and upset.  I’m hurt and I’m upset and yet I am not even intrinsically connected to one missing or murdered aboriginal woman.  NOT ONE.  So how do the families, the friends, the children and the left-alone-companions, how do these people feel?  How are the legions of people who are bearing a hurt and an upset that is much deeper than mine simply ignored?  Sorry chums, too busy for an inquiry again this week, haphazardly drafting new legislation over here.

I read an article in the New Yorker this week.  In that article there is a discussion about the murders in Paris.  Gruesome, horrific, bringing the whole world into proper hand-holding formation.  There is then a discussion about the 2,000 people murdered by Boko Haram in Baga, Nigeria that happened two days after the #JeSuisCharlie murders.  Two thousand people were brutally killed, burned to death, in what Human Rights Watch is calling a “systemic campaign of arson directed against the civilian population in the area“.  President of Nigeria Goodluck Jonathan didn’t speak to the 2,000 murders until days later, despite reaching out to France immediately, in a larger, more grandiose gesture.  The article writes that not all bodies are mournable.

So too here in Canada, we go to bat for murders that we believe are somehow more important.  Change the face of my democracy, limit my Charter rights, do what you must to save face or perhaps keep up with the rest of the world operating under a rubric of living in a terrorist nation.  Not all murders are equal.  What a sad, embarrassing fact.

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The image above is by illustrator Evan Murphy.  You can read here about his Twitter campaign to tweet a portrait of a missing or murdered aboriginal woman at Stephen Harper every day.

So I decided to go to the movies…

I have become obsessed with the Oscars.  In music school, I had a sick hookup at a video store and so I used to watch all the movies – popular and unpopular alike – and by Oscars season I had genuinely seen every movie that was in any sort of possible Academy Award contention.  My cultural capital was impressive both in its generalness and also its pretentiousness.

Last year, I became obsessed only with work and wine.  Too much time was spent at the office.  Too much time was spent at Christian’s (“Where St. John’s Yuppies Go To Get Lucky”).  Too much time was spent eating Dominos while watching Netflix on the fouton.  I don’t really remember what I was working on or who I was talking to at Christian’s or what I was watching on Netflix.  It’s just the Lost Year.

It was a dark time, ok.

It was a dark time, ok.

This year, along with scrambling for mindfulness, I am recklessly trying to watch every movie that will possibly stand a chance at the Oscars at record breaking speeds.  I may be inappropriately and no longer fashionably late for this party, but at least I am earnest.

Since deciding I like really, really needed to have a deep and profound understanding, attachment to and vested interest in the Oscars, I have committed a lot of time to films.  In the last week I have watched the following (and these are just the Oscars contenders!): The Grand Budapest Hotel, the Congress, Unbroken, Boyhood and The Imitation Game.  I know, let me tell you about these films!

The Grand Budapest Hotel

This is a movie set in a Europe which is awash in warm, rosy colours.  Almost like one is wearing rose-coloured glasses.  Almost.  In this movie, told to us by Jude Law, dressed as some posh adventure writing man in the late 1920s/early 1930s,  through the actual telling of Mr. Moustafa (F. Murray Abraham) (which is a really cool method of delivery just BTW),  we hear Mr. Moustafa’s story about why he upkeeps a formerly glorious hotel but sleeps only in a servant’s room and why is everything so pink?  (Okay that’s not really what the movie is about.)  Mr. Moustafa tells the story about a most gentlemanly gentleman, M. Gustave, and this is when we get to see Voldemort be completely unevil.  Voldemort plays this most noble of men and we follow his strange crusade of faith, chivalry, womanizing and tutelage around pink Europe.  Almost as if I was in perfect time with the rest of the movie-watching society (okay, actually terribly behind as per the above peramble), this flick won Best Comedy or Musical at the Golden Globes last night.  Go voldy go.

...what?

…what?

(Robin Wright at) The Congress

Jessica Rabbit move ova!   Source: wired.co.uk

Jessica Rabbit move ova!
Source: wired.co.uk

I think I had accidentally gotten drunk before watching this because the fact that I even decided to watch it is very bizarre considering the Roger Ebert Review fully says this movie is IN 2D.  Anyway…in this movie, Robin Wright depicts herself as a washed up actress who sells the digital rights to herself in every possible way – face, body, laugh, tears, all of it – for twenty years.  At age 64 she returns to Hollywood to try and figure out what’s next.  However, from a movie-making world where actors simply need to sell their features as a computer program, things were bound to take some sort of a trippy turn.  When she arrives at the promised land, she is given some drugs and everything she sees is in 2d.  She is fully animated.  The entire world is a fantastical acid trip through a terrifying version of what Hollywood must do next in order to survive.  It’s the love child of the Eagles and Lewis Caroll starring a hot anime character.  Not sure if this will win best picture.  Just. Not. Sure.

Unbroken

In typical “I save the world in my spare time when I’m not making movies” Angalina Jolie fashion, this is the movie people should go to see this year when they aren’t feeling sad enough.  Handsome-dude-of-the-year Jack O’Connell is an English-born, Irish bloke playing an Italian immigrant to the United States fighting in Japan in the second world war.  I’m not sure how Jolie missed that very catchy tagline for this outstanding piece of cinema, but there you have.  O’Connell plays Louis Zamperini, an Olympic athlete, and is heart wrenchingly outstanding in this movie about a deep, eternal strength that is almost infuriating to watch.  Upon capture, the former Olympian is tortured endlessly by “The Bird”, played by the perfectly formed Takamasa Ishihara.  The scenes may feel too long, but I suggest they are specifically designed that way – the more aggravated and heartbroken the audience is, perpetuated by the Bird’s cruelty taking place over and over again, the better we understand Louis’ unbreakable strength.

Boyhood

This movie took MORE THAN 12 YEARS to make.  B’ys what are ya even at.  That is either some serious capital (real, not cultural), continuous lottery winnings or luck…or maybe just a brilliant idea.  The remarkable notion of this movie is actually bordering on the insane.  Watching an adorable youngster turn into a typical adolescent and finally into a high school graduate happens in lots of movies – but not where, by the time you watch the movie, that adorable little boy NO LONGER EXISTS.  I thought The Congress was trippy, but so too is the fact that the people we watch at the beginning of the film are completely, unimaginably different.  The movie is, plainly, about life.  The mistakes, the falls, the people you touch, the people you hurt.  All of it is in there.  It’s profound and beautiful.  Unsurprisingly, director Richard Linklater won best director at the Globes and Mom, Patricia Arquette, earned Best Supporting Actress.

The Imitation Game

NOW this movie has it all.  There are nazis, handsome people, people who are mean to future heros, stars from Downton Abbey and the Good Wife, blackmail, and a protagonist who is heroic in his simplicity, dedication, discipline, motivation and a love that is pervasive in all things.  Benedict Cumberbatch was extraordinary in his stoic intensity.  His awkward non-humour humour was always on-point and his moments of recollection were delivered with such expression that to recall that both the humour and the terrifyingly sad remembrance were portrayed by just one man should reassure even the non-obsessed-with-the-Oscars-this-year audience member of the deep beauty and power of theatre.  To quote a little girl seen after the movie who couldn’t remember the word for goosebumps, I was really tingly and cold all over.  This movie should just win the whole world.

Keira Knightley and the b'ys just having a little laugh because they are just so impressive.   Source: filmoria.co.uk

Keira Knightley and the b’ys just having a little laugh because they are just so impressive.
Source: filmoria.co.uk

Better let the heat stretch ya: a re-introduction to hot yoga at the most cliche time of year.

Ahh!  January!  It’s snowy and crisp outdoors.  The clocks on all my devices have magically (I do mean magically – technology is magical in my opinion) all set themselves to a new year.  Calendars from 2013 and 2014 await replacement with 2015 calendars that were given to help disorganized people get their shit together in the new year along with other office supplies.

New calendar and office supplies.

New calendar and other office supplies.

(Sidebar: as you can see, my family associates me with the hit Disney film, Frozen.  This is because my sister and I associate ourselves with this film by virtue of being “just like them”.  It’s because we are unique that we feel that way.  Don’t hate.)

Now, for those who are still operating in a world where you write a few things out by hand including the date, you’ll probably still be writing 2014 for a while, or, maybe even 2013 if you’re anything like my yoga instructor.

AH YES yoga.  I have decided to start doing hot yoga again.  Back in 2012 I liked to get all hot and sweaty and at peace with myself in the studio but after using up all the introductory deals the studio in London had to offer, I waned myself away from downward facing dog and co.  Last year, I noticed my brain was less focussed than it used to be – I was too distracted to read novels or watch movies for example – so I set out on a brief quest to become more mindful.  I considered yoga then, but instead became a gym rat.  Instead of focusing on mindfulness, I focussed on running until I was too tired to think.  This was more akin to shoving my desire for mindfulness forcefully under the rug.

SO now I am actually back again, attending classes at Moksha Yoga St. John’s.  I walked though the door for my first class in almost three years on Friday and I felt so open and free and, dare I say it, mindful already!  I was like a new girl – not a girl who’s fighting her Return of Saturn, but a young, free, mindful girl!

I took my boots off and panic set in.

You know when you enter a space and you expect to see people you know?  WELL OBVIOUSLY EMILY none of the London yoga-goers are here in St John’s and so I was surrounded by a myriad of strangers who probably do yoga like nine times a week and are already achieving a state of mindfulness that is both fluid and non-strenuous.  I hate them all.

What’s more, the yogi at the front desk (although she might have been trading for yoga…I just assume she was a yogi) asked me if it was my first time.  And you know what that means.  It means, “are you one of these idiots who, for a new years resolution, decided to join yoga to tone your arms or gain mindfulness”.  Well no one likes to be one of these fitness new years resolution people.  “I’ll have you know, I have practiced TONS of yoga in my lifetime!  My child’s pose is second to none! And I am very active at the gym!”

In reality, I said “I’ve been here only once before for a Karma class”.  She proceeded to tell me her new-years-resolution-people spiel, I just know that’s what it was.

Also, you know when you’re not expecting to see someone and you see a complete and total lookalike of them?  Like the kind of doppelganger that would be really helpful if you were trying to disappear for a week but you didn’t want anyone to know, so you’d call up this doppelganger and they would come and play you in real life while you’re gone?  I saw one of those while I was there in the form of a girl who I had a falling out with while living away.  Um.  Strange doppelganger get OUT of my mindful space!  I am here to focus on myself and on my present state of being and most of all, on the rise and the fall of my breath and I can’t because YOU’RE HERE.  So, I begin to wrack my brains: do I recall you having any connection here?  Are you here for work?  I mean, height, weight, hair colour, facial features: from a reasonably close, but not too close as to be creepy, distance they are all the same.  But to my knowledge, you’d never be on the east coast, except you did tell me about that one time you…

Oh my god Emily.  THIS IS NOT AT ALL MINDFULNESS.  Get the hell into savasna and turn off your brain and do some deep breathing!  Let the stresses of today just go!  You are paying  A LOT of money to not be letting the stresses of today go.  That’s right, a guilt trip straight into being one of body and mind.  This seems wrong.

Anyway, after that emotional roller coaster of inner turmoil, I ended up having a very beautiful class with dedication to breath and old familiar favourite poses – dancer, pigeon – and a very painful but appreciated core series.  My muscles were pleased and I did actually focus only on the poses – well at least for a little while.  As soon as final savasna hit my brain was promptly signalling me “okay we’ve got things to do, tick tock Emily tick tock!”  Problem is, nobody wants to be the first person to leave after a class as it just screams to the world I AM JUST FAKING THIS THROUGH GOD GIVEN FLEXIBILITY AND GENERALLY GOOD BALANCE.  So I waited.

Despite that weird cacophony of emotions, my return to the mat was a success.  That evening was met with something resembling calmness.  Over the weekend I read my book and watched several movies in whole, from start to finish, and in one sitting.  Very mindful!  Baby steps, people, baby steps.