Friday, 17 October 2014

'sounding like a girl'

It was a great blog post.
Beautifully written, filled with wise words on boundaries and work-life balance,
and the need to step back and say 'no' at times.
Know yourself.
Know your limits.
Out of courtesy to the blogger, who I respect hugely, and who is a well-known speaker and writer, I'm not going to name them, nor post a link.
Not that they need 'protected', but rather, this is not a post about calling them out: it's about calling out systems and structures that perpetuate misogyny in such a way that it is normalised to the point of subversive, unhelpful near-invisibility.

But back to the post...
In the midst of wise words, a phrase caught my eye,
took me out of the writer's intended train of thought and moved me along another parallel track.
The premise was the difficulty of saying no, and the added difficulty of doing such without a profusion of apologies,
of 'sounding like a girl.'
'Sounding like a girl'...
We've all heard variations of the ' a girl' phrase:
walk a girl.

As if there's something inherently wrong, bad, about the way girls - or women - do things.
And it's a phrase that's used at such a subconscious level that the inherent sexism and diminishing of women can be missed utterly.  One day I hope we can all find a more helpful analogy than the 'like a girl' trope which comes with such an implicit negativity regarding the voices of girls/ women.  Centuries upon centuries of thinking/ living/ working within the default framework of male hegemony have had some impact upon a possible female default response: to please, to be nice, to defer, not to make waves (and, should waves be created or anticipated, to apologise and apologise again).  Apologise for what, however?  For our right to exist, for self-determination, our right to express an opinion?
Is 'sounding like a girl' so dreadful?
And if not, what then, is it to 'sound like a girl?'


or perhaps this:

Wouldn't it be awesome if 'sounding like a girl' was a thing to be celebrated?  I celebrate, rejoice, and give thanks for, voices of girls - young women - like Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai.  May she be an inspiration for other girls and women to find and use their own voices without fear...and as they do so, make outdated analogies obsolete and more than a  little ridiculous.

Friday, 10 October 2014

RevGals: random Friday Five

After a long time not playing... here's my RevGals Friday Five.
Karla asks:

1. How do you sign off in your emails, professional and personally? For example, you say “Blessings”, “Take Care”, “Remember, the Devil is watching you” (o.k. just kidding on that one.) Let us know and why… 

Most often it's 'Warm greetings', followed by my name, and then a tag signature quote by Cecil Beaton:
'Be daring, be different, be impractical, be anything that will assert
integrity of purpose and imaginative vision against the play-it-safers, the creatures of the commonplace, the slaves of the ordinary.'

Why?  'Warm greetings' was a way of not writing 'yours faithfully/ sincerely', was friendly but could be taken as formal/ informal.  
The Beaton quote - echoes for me of Rom. 12:2 'do not be conformed to the world, be transformed' - idealist, even at this age, who doesn't just want to wish for change, but to be part of the change I wish to see?

 2. If you were an animal TODAY, what is it and why? 
My day: a case of...'is it hot in here, or is it just me?'

 3. If you get snarky, what triggers it? If you don’t get snarky, please, what is the secret? I am a ray of sunshine in God's glorious firmament ... okay... bad manners and lack of integrity.

4. Look up from your computer/tablet/phone screen. What is the first favorite thing your eyes land on. Describe it. (For example, I just did this, and my eyes landed on a little angel made out of multicolored wires whose head and wings are quite askew because of being chewed upon by my puppy. That aside, I love it because it was a gift from two little girls who came often to my office in my last call to play with all the tshotke on my table. They wanted to add to it.) 
Ah, looking up, my eyes were drawn to my mock Rennie Mackintosh fireplace - perhaps it is getting to the time of year to indulge my inner, light the fire. 

5. Do you have a favorite pair of socks? Tell us about them!
They are beginning to fall apart, but yes: my Jonah in the whale socks :)

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

beyond words: St Bride by John Duncan

St Bride, John Duncan c.1913
Ever since I was introduced to this painting back in 1997, by the wonderful Mary Low, I have loved it.  Every time I visit the painting another detail catches my eye and makes me pause.  There's a richness of colour and movement that conveys so much without needing to resort to words, and which leaves me silent in its wake.
The subject matter is very much informed by the Celtic Revival/ Twilight movement, and my inner pedant wrestles slightly with my more romantic side because of the anachronism: St Bride being transported across the water - and through time - to Bethlehem at the birth of Christ, to act as midwife for Mary.  My mind flashes to Dr Who very briefly but, almost immediately, the beauty of the painting grabs me, and, like Bride, I too, am transported.  

At the centre, the stern face of the angel whose eyes, and indeed, whole body are focused forward upon the task and destination.  There's an immense dignity and strength, a strength seen in the angel's hands as it carries the precious cargo onward.  A suggestion of a cross with the angle of Bride's body echoing the angel's wing...Bride, the pious, who even in her sleep is seen in an attitude of prayer, and wearing white for purity.  

In contrast to the near-severity of the central angel, there's a tenderness in the leading angel's face, which turns back and looks upon Bride with care and compassion.  The richly detailed robes worn by the angels tell stories from the life of Christ.  Perhaps they also tell a story in miniature of the artist, John Duncan; on the leading angel, is the clown/ holy fool leading the procession a self-portrait of one who may have been a little mad?  Earthly creatures meet this heavenly procession.  Bobbing amidst the sea-foam, a seal crests the waves while two rather cheerful seagulls follow.  

I love how the subjects in the painting are not contained by the border: a halo, wings of angel and bird, and feet break free from the constraints that seek to impose order.  The artist perhaps thinking 'outside of the box' way before the term was coined.  

It is an odd thing, this.  Although I can describe various aspects of this painting, what I can't at all describe is how - or why - this painting moves me so, or why it is one of my favourites.  All I know is that, somewhere in the deep core of my being, the painting just strikes a chord in some way.  I could use the words 'transcendent', or 'beauty', but perhaps it's okay to accept that some things go beyond words.