Baby

“Isn’t life wonderful, Emily?”

Grape cigarillos and rolling rock

and Stella (what I’d name my child if I had one)

and tequila 

and “Brown-Eyed Girl”, baby,

sing it to me slow. 

And these people who I love who love me 

and

“Isn’t life wonderful sometimes, Emily?” 

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The one in which I go all feminist/English student all over the place.

We’re reading Chaucer in my English class right now and this article was posted in our blog and I have huge issues with it, as stated in my response to it below. Of course, we are debating about a fictional character written about 800 years ago and it doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things but… maybe it does, actually. Maybe the Wife of Bath is one of the few characters we can actually claim for the history of women (because we haven’t been written about that much over the course of History.) See for yourself.

http://www.articlemyriad.com/feminist-analysis-prologue-wife-bath/2/

Firstly, thanks for sharing this article. There are so many different approaches to what I would call “feminism”, and though I call myself one, I don’t agree with this writer’s approach.

I think the Wife of Bath IS a feminist hero. The fact that she’s even talking in an age when women had virtually no voice outside of the household proves that she is one. The author argues that she cannot be held as a feminist hero because she uses the men in her life to her own gain. So let’s see here: in a time when women were completely unable to earn their own living or inherit it, this woman is smart enough to find the loopholes in the system and live contently. She makes her own life, rather than having men make it for her. The author condemns her for being manipulative – I’d just say she’s wicked intelligent. Also, the author points out that she’s using her sexuality to make these gains. The Wife of Bath lives in a time when a woman’s character is reduced to her vagina. It’s a fact. We lived to please men and make sons. Her only tool to make any kind of success in her world is her sexuality. She recognizes her power as a sexual woman and she uses it to make amazing gains.

Certain feminists hold that for women to be truly empowered, they have to detach themselves and not fall in love. Contrarily, the author of this article argues that the Wife of Bath is not a feminist icon because she detaches herself from sex (even though she does claim to be in love with one of her husbands.) Obviously there are many viewpoints on every issue, but my personal idea of an “empowered woman” is a woman who chooses whether she wants to manipulate men for sexual favours or to fall in love or to sleep with a bunch of guys or to have one partner for her whole life – the point being that SHE CHOOSES to do what she does.

The last paragraph in the article also bothers me. The author says that the Wife of Bath is not a feminist hero because she doesn’t try to make big, “revolutionary” changes to the lives of women. But that’s just the point: she can’t. For thousands of years, the home has been the only place that women actually have a bit of influence. In medieval England, certainly, it was the only arena where women could make a change. I think that for her cultural context, the Wife of Bath is doing a fucking amazing job of being an empowered woman. She’s choosing what she does and that’s what “women’s rights” or “feminism” is all about.

Was Chaucer a feminist? That term wasn’t even invented yet, so no, he wasn’t. But I think he did recognize that women’s voices are important as well, or else he wouldn’t have included the Wife of Bath character in his Tales.

After I Went On That Awkward Double Date With Michael and Before I Went To The Hobbit With Tim And He Didn’t Make A Move.

You sit there, picking apart dumplings with your fingers, telling us about the kiss and what he was wearing and how it felt when he trailed his finger down your spine and we’re laughing because to us these are all insignificant little details. To YOU they’re the culmination of all you’ve hoped and worried and agonized over for months. And this one of those moments you now measure your life from. We all chunkify our lives – do this whole dividing thing. To use technical terminology.

Naomi will say: “Before Cody but after that thing with Justin is when I dyed my hair brown.” or something like: “I was wearing the red dress which I bought in Florida, the same time I bought you Ginny Weasley’s wand.”

I’ll say: “Yes, Aunt Amy had just died so I’d just gotten the teapot….” or “It was after France; Ced and I ambushed you and told you to get over that cad.”

We measure our lives by the dramatic events: the wounds, the triumphs. These moments anchor our lives and make them feel more solid. Your life becomes all about Before and After The Event. The Event provides a fulcrum around which you balance all the rest of it. (See Looking For Alaska by John Green.)

So a few months after your Mountain Top experience of a make-out, we’ll have other things that we put weight behind. Such as when you did that thing that you do when a guy starts liking you that you stop liking him. Or when I saw a baby sucking its thumb on the ultrasound screen. Or when you did four shots of gin in a row to exorcise some demons. Or the time Michael puked three times in Naomi’s toilet. Or when Noah and I stayed up to watch Duck Dynasty until three in the morning. Or when I tell you about the guy wearing the Rasmus shirt at that party. Or when you saw Wicked on Broadway and fucking loved your life for those two and half hours of bliss. (Side note: Wicked is basically the fucking best.)

And gradually, these markers will be replaced with new ones. And again, and again. In ten years, our events that we measure will be wildly different. The ones we held so sacred a year ago, or five years ago – the moments that made our life seem real – are fading. We don’t measure those anymore. They’re insignificant. And maybe that’s sad to forget why something meant as much as it to me way back then, but hey, I think this would be an appropriate time to use the phrase c’est la vie. Une vie folle.

My Big Moment of five years ago? I had a sworn-to-secrecy, passionate, fantastic, Grade 9 crush on this popular, charming guy who didn’t even know my name. I was Little Miss SAVE-THE-WORLD Christian. I overheard him say fuck. And it broke my heart.

I can’t tell you how glad I am that I don’t continue to measure my life from the time that guy said FUCK and I thought he was going to hell without me.

 

I ALL KILLED! = eyes on him…

One of the biggest mistakes of my life was looking up the lyrics to Stevie Nicks’ “Edge of Seventeen”. Ignorance is bliss, they say. The old adage is certainly true for lyrics, most songs are a trillion times better when you don’t know what you’re singing (Or screeching, breathlessly. In your pyjamas. Alone in your room. While doing the Chandler Bing Dance). Some lyrics just aren’t mean to be heard properly. You know, those songs that you roll the windows way, way down for, so that everyone can hear you screaming muddled lyrics for miles. For example:

Bennie & the Jets (and virtually any other Elton song): “Hey kids, look into the fake lens, maybe they’re blinded? But baby get to business. We share the scythe cuz we shake ourselves out longgg. Well we find our pair outside in the streets and they’re all wrongggggg! Oh Camry and Rhonda can’t you see they knit?!”

Come On Eileen – Dexy’s Midnight Runners: “You’re a Johnny rah-uunnn, let’s saddle up the radio for the pretty hearts a-breakinnnnn’… a mother’s quite saddle a who-rain…”

Rock You Like A Hurricane – Scorpions: “This lightbulb’s shaking, rakin’ the light. The Guinness is pourin’,  it itches my skin, so what is wrong with acetaminophen!?”

These Eyes – The Guess Who: “The curtains are freezin’! I will never be free of ’em!”

I Don’t Know – The Sheepdogs: “Never had a head, but I stop and shed! Holdin’ it alone, I never felt so quite this tenttttt.”

The Tragically Hip never fails for mystifying lyrics: “Trite bitches lined up, cross the front cage, seems the mammy more timeee to fall away..”

And unfortunately I have to cut the forever-ruined Edge of Seventeen from the list. Me and my sister used to sing/shriek/croak: “He was no mooooOOOOOOORE Benny Babayyyyy Bennnn. Well he seemed broken-hearted, strapped down with millionssssssss – BUT MY MOMMY! AND THAT GIRL’S LEG! I! ALL! KILLED!”

Those were the days.

Maria Angel

We’ve just run through the thunderstorm to the safety of the car and closed the sunroof because it’s 11 at night and it’s fucking raining. It’s moments like these when you’re so sure of yourself it hurts, because sometimes you don’t feel like yourself and that hurts too. Goddammit, we’ve been through most everything together and we’re going to go through more and more than we ever thought we would, and that’s why we’re best friends, I guess.

So we’re sitting in the McDonald’s parking lot, rain hammering on the roof, and that song on the radio that goes “I have scaled these city walls, these city walls, only to be with you…” And we’re laughing, because that’s what we do, we make light of the hugest shitshows. Like after we almost died in the car accident and we were bent double laughing, clutching our bruises.

And then you tell us, and it’s like something out of a movie, you’d never think this would happen to girls like us, but you say “we were stupid, we weren’t thinking” but you’re excited and nervous, and so am I, oddly enough. I love how you talk this weird mix of Spanish and English now, and say “fucking eh” at the end of every sentence.

We’re going to take such good care of you, because that what we’re best at: laughing through the shitshows and taking care of each other.