DORIELLE CAIMI

Interview with Venison Magazine 2017

Posted on August 26, 2017

Article by Adriana Villagran 

 

 
I came across your work on Instagram and quickly became obsessed, not only by the quality of your work but also by what you actually say about your work. You’re very candid about your experience and show all the nitty-gritty truths about being a human who makes art. For us #artistsoninstagram who might be a little reserved about showing the uglier albeit more truthful part of the art-making process, what beads of wisdom would you offer about telling your story, warts and all?

Beads of wisdom? Well, when posting on Instagram, I go by these rules:
1. If it scares the shit out of me to post something, I’m probably doing it right.
2.  Have fun; post with love.

I think all I’m really trying to do with my art is be ok with how human I am, blunders, warts, shortcomings, trauma, bad morning breath and all.

Your work is very empowered and confronts head on some very complex issues in a playful, yet profound way. How do you formulate and work out the way you decide to visualize this interaction? What is that process like?​​
Picture
"Unrequited Love", Oil on canvas, 24 x 24 in
I first start by throwing all seriousness out the window. I’m just painting a picture; it’s not that important. After I do this, that’s when I start getting ideas. Most of the time, how it happens is I will get an intact and complete visual idea in my head, and then my job is to paint it. I don’t ask questions; I don’t analyze it, and I certainly don’t criticize it until the idea is about 75% on the canvas. Then I can start to see what I was trying to say. I start to see what I was feeling when I painted the picture. Sometimes my ideas make me laugh; sometimes they bring me relief; and other times I look back at paintings I’ve created and I cry because I see how much pain I needed to work out on the canvas.
"My biggest influencers are those who keep saying that painting is dead. They are hilarious. I prove them wrong every day. It’s delightful."
Who are the subjects in your paintings? How do you interact with them personally?

I sometimes paint figures from my head, or I’ll create composite images and work from those. Other times I will use my own body or I will get models to pose for me. I like to keep my process ever-changing because I don’t want to get too good at painting the figure. I want it to stay exciting for me. That’s why I don’t restrict myself to any one way of processing out the figures in my paintings.

However, when I do work with models, I have them sign a model release that gives me license to use their bodies in my work in ways that best serve the concepts with which I’m working. Most of them are cool with giving me total creative control. For example, I recently painted my friend’s husband who literally let me stab him in the back (the painting; not him) because I was trying to work out some real anger I had inside of me and I needed a cathartic release. You know, like when you’re a kid and the loving adult figures in your life tell you to go punch a pillow? My models know I might turn them into a pillow, and they’re ok with it, and I love them for it.
Picture
"Until Proven Innocent", oil on canvas, 30 x 40 in
Picture
"Nothing, I'm Fine!", Oil on canvas, 46 x 30 in
You have a very distinctive visual language that pulls figural styles from the old masters and casts them into contemporary contexts in a way that completely revitalizes the art form. When do you feel this really came together for you? Who are your biggest influencers both traditional and contemporary?

Well, thankie kindly.
My biggest influencers are those who keep saying that painting is dead. They are hilarious. I prove them wrong every day. It’s delightful. My head demons also influence me. When I’m painting, little scritchy scratchy thoughts come in and say things like, “Uh oh, Dorielle. It’s me, Anxiety. Anyway, I need to tell you something: this painting is going to be like really bad. This is because you’re lazy and also you are bad. And because of this, you will amount to nothing. That’s ZERO. Also, let’s talk about homelessness…” etc. I don’t know where we get those funny freaked out little monster voices from, but I do enjoy telling them to kindly wait on my couch while I finish what I am doing and then we can have a sincere chat when I’m out walking along the Rio Grande River under the influence of endorphins and natural beauty...preferably, after I’ve had some solid food.

BUT if we want to talk about artistic influencers in my work, I love ALL art. I love Andres Serrano’s “Blood and Semen,” I love Botticelli, I love Banksy, I love Jenny Morgan, Korehiko Hino, Chris Burden, Meret Oppenheim, Mary Cassatt, Sutton Beres Culler. And at the same time, I also don’t care for art at all. Sometimes I hate all art. Sometimes I get so fed up and grossed out with art that I want to throw up. But when it comes down to it, I always come back to loving all the art and the artists because they are usually stubborn as hell and they are doing what they want to do. This helps me know that I can also be stubborn and do what I want to do. And that’s the beautiful dance of inspiration.    
Picture
"Sympathetic Fiber", Oil & goldleaf on canvas, 60 x 36 in
Your paintings mix together fun, glittery textures, bright colors and gradients, gold leaf, big geometric and cartoony shapes, tightly rendered figures, and so on. What are your favorite parts to paint or experiment with?

I love to paint the surprises. Painting the figure representationally has kind of lost its fun for me. I am not a human copying machine. I get bored very easily if I don’t switch things up. Every painting must have something in it that is new to me and that somewhat scares me. I think one of the biggest and deadliest plagues in a creative life is when an artist finds something that he or she is good at, that’s received with praise and approval, and then they keep making the same work repeatedly. I call this bizarre behavior finding a niche, and, though comfortable and safe at first, it has the potential to kill you dead inside. It is my belief that artists are not commodities; we are seekers of truth and authentic expression and EVERYTHING in this world is our toolbox from which to pull. In my opinion, niche has no place in the world of creation because it, by definition, rules out exploration, which is the key to creating. The closest friend I have when I am painting is the curiosity to discover that which I do not yet know.

You often hear the word ‘feminist’ to describe artwork made by women about women. It’s a very specific word with a socio-political weight to it and its meaning changes over time based on its historical context. What does that word mean to you / What do you think it should mean? How do you respond to it when someone describes your work as such?

I love what Feminism stands for but I hate the word “Feminism.” I’ve written whole argumentative essays on this word. It’s tired, it’s ironic, and it’s becoming a groupthink-oriented fallacy. The very etymology of the word isolates women and points to gender as primary, and consequently, human as secondary. It also ties men to their gender and creates divide. And finally, it creates an absence of the masculine, which creates problems when you’re trying to have open interdependent communication about gender.
"I think one of the biggest and deadliest plagues in a creative life is when an artist finds something that he or she is good at, that’s received with praise and approval, and then they keep making the same work repeatedly."
Picture
"Commotion", Oil on canvas, 50 x 32 in
Also, Feminism has split into SO MANY factions; there’s even a Lipstick Feminist sect. It meant well upon conception, but mostly it has stuck around doing what our foremothers did not want it to do, which is namely labeling women as this or that. We need a new way to talk about gender, and personally, I think the best way to do it is to stop pointing at women as a group with a word that keeps using gender as the first defining attribute.

I would now like to take a moment to remind people that I have a spinal column and a brain. Sometimes this brain gets depressed and it wonders what the point of it all is. Sometimes my stomach gets hungry, and my vagina doesn’t care. I also have big teeth. One time, I stole candy from the grocery store. Yesterday, I checked the mail. My point is most of my experiences have nothing to do with the fact that I am a woman. I don’t care to be labeled by my genitalia or by the fact that I can create another human inside of me. Mostly I would just like for people to know how much I love anchovies.

​In all seriousness, Feminism has become the greatest irony of our time because it is now holding women back who want to move beyond gender. It’s also ironic because it keeps cognitively implying that women are/should be singularly “WOMAN.” And well, we just don’t know what that means besides the fact that we are capable of making babies. The rest of it is gender-based preconceptions about behavior, and frankly, most of them make absolutely no sense and do not inform the unique and authentic nature of the individual.

Feminism started out as a way for women to be able to vote and own land. But if you look at how it’s evolved, it’s become a self-fulfilling prophesy and it looks like a dog chasing its own tail. For more about my thoughts on this beaten-to-a-pulp topic, please visit my website, dorielle.com, go to my blog, and read my essay on My Beef with Feminism.
I too have beef with Feminism. When it comes to art, it seems to have become another bucket for art by women about women blah blah blah.  Do you ever feel compelled to push back when someone places your work in that category? A gallery, a publication, or some other powers that be?

I knew that when I started painting women exclusively, that I would have to hone in on a greater conversation about what it is to be female. That’s why I took a
more psychological approach and applied my own experiences to my work.  
After a while, I started to feel weird about working so one-sidedly. It made me feel like I was holding myself down in a strictly feminine experience, and I wanted to painting my experiences as a human….not just as a women. That way, I could explore my humanity and not just my gender.   

That said, I am very much looking forward to moving out of the “she paints women” category.
Picture
"Forgiving the Men We Mistook for Wish Granters", Oil and knife holes on canvas, 40 x 34 in
Picture
"Smile Honey", Oil on canvas, 30 x 24 in
Can you talk about your recent painting "Forgiving the Men We Mistook for Wish Granters" in terms of both meaning and process?

painted “Forgiving The Men We Mistook for Wish Granters” after three traumatic things happened in my life. These occurrences are still very recent, so I don’t really want to talk about them in great detail yet. I will say that there were a few men in my life of whom I had profound expectations, to which they could not live up. When I managed to get a bit past the hurt, I finally saw them as flawed human beings just like me, and that helped me forgive them. They were never my wish-granters, they were just my well-wishers. Ultimately, it was I who had to make my wishes come true. I think a lot of people hold anger towards one another because they feel so much pain and loss due to the actions of others. If we don’t work through the anger, we can get sick inside. Suppressing pain and grief wreaks havoc on a person and it can turn into deep depression, rage, jealousy, and chronic illness.

When it comes to the ways men and women relate to one another, I imagine they are no different than any two people relating to one another, bumping awkwardly against each other, making mistakes, reacting to one another, attempting to understand the other with the best of intentions, etc. This first painting of a man was a deep release of anger by stabbing the canvas with a knife. In allowing myself to admit how hurt and angry I was, I could get a taste of forgiveness…which is letting go of the anger because I let myself feel it. Finding healing through my work is the greatest gift my art gives me.
Picture
"Surface Tension", Oil and gold leaf on canvas, 52 x 38 in
Forgiveness is a recurring theme in both your paintings and your blog posts. You talk about women forgiving themselves for the slights that society places upon them as well as forgiving those who reinforce them. But forgiving is often very difficult to do. You describe your process as cathartic, does that mean painting is a tactic for finding for such forgiveness, both for yourself and for others?

You can’t force forgiveness. It must come naturally through letting yourself feel your authentic emotions. Anger, rage, sadness, fear, and grief all have shelf lives, and they are all gifts. They are essential parts of human experience, and they will pass, but holding onto or suppressing them for too long renders them chronically negative influences in our lives. However, that said, you cannot rush how long one of these emotions is going to stay with you. Alanis Morissette talks at great length about forgiveness. In one of her interviews, she said that forcing the process of forgiveness before you’re ready is a kind of violent thing to do to yourself. It’s like forcing yourself to laugh when you don’t find something funny. The problem is that we don’t want to feel grief, pain, loss, rage, anger, sadness because they can be profoundly uncomfortable, so what we do is label these feelings as bad. Then when we feel them, we feel that we are bad.

Eventually this avoidance creates panic in an individual. All the negative things we’ve been running from pile up like homework we’ve avoided for years. After my trauma, my anger, rage, grief, loss, sadness, etc. consumed me and I resisted it. This resistance turned my life into one huge post-traumatic stress episode. I was shaking all the time. I couldn’t eat, and food didn’t taste good either. I became severely depressed and scared. I couldn’t enjoy music, running or anything I used to enjoy. And I could not love and forgive myself because I essentially felt that everything that was “myself” was bad. I mean, I was denying my authentic human experience at every turn, running from it.
This is where forgiveness came in for me. People mistakenly think of forgiveness as a forced action that exists of nothing. But really, forgiveness is made up of everything. And it’s always paired with pain. Forgiveness is the feeling of relief, and it can only be felt if you allow yourself to honestly feel its partners, grief, sadness, fear, and anger without judging yourself in the process. And that’s what I seek to do when I am working on a painting: let myself be.
Picture
"La Bellezze Dell'anima", Oil on board, 20 x 16 in
Picture
"Civil Whore Paint", Oil on cradled board (framed), 18x24 in
Pretty much every painting is a roller coaster of emotions. During every painting that’s worth making there comes a time that the painter gets stuck or feels discouraged. What do you do when you get to that point? How do you do to break through?

Oh yes! Painting is a great teacher. When I am painting, it’s as if Yoda is talking to me in his grammatically backwards vernacular saying, “Patience, you must have, Dorielle. If you do not believe in what you are doing, fail, you will.”
It’s very important for me to name what I am feeling instead of taking it out on the canvas. If I am feeling discouraged, I am probably tired, hungry, sad, or lonely. Very few times is my work bad; it’s just not finished or I am in a bad mood.

When I get to the point of feeling discouraged, overwhelmed, and/or angry, I know I am not putting my best energy into my work. At that point, I know that I need to put the brushes down, and applaud myself for whatever I’ve done, whether it’s an hour or 7 hours of work. I was hospitalized from pushing myself too hard a couple years ago and I realized that if I want to do this for the rest of my life, I should be kind to my mind and body and I need to pace myself.
Picture
"Babe in the Woods", Oil, gold leaf and glitter on canvas, 72 x 44 in
On a more personal level, you have dealt with debilitating pain that pretty much put a stop to painting for you. If you feel comfortable talking about that experience, can you elaborate on how that affected you as an artist, or just a human who got thrown an unwieldy curveball?

I think I can talk about it now. When I was 28, my upper back completely stopped holding my head and neck up, and my liver was overtaxed and not functioning very well. I was yellow and cold all the time. I was experiencing tingling and numbness in my arms, and I would pass out or have panic attacks from the pain. I was bed-ridden on and off for approximately 8 months, during which time, my husband and I were facing unemployment and destitution in Oakland. I managed to get some painting in, but by the end of my time in Oakland, I was taken in an ambulance to the ER because I was losing consciousness in our kitchen and I thought I was going into a systemic shock. I managed to get a flight home to my mom’s house in New Mexico, but things in my life fell apart thereafter. I became catatonically depressed (my doctors called it Chronic Situational Depression). Though my body healed with no definitive diagnosis, my soul felt scared at best; shattered and lost at worst. I was a shell of who I used to be. I didn’t understand what the point of anything was. Somehow, I kept painting through it all. “Unrequited Lightning” is a painting I did when I got home that talks specifically to that time in my life. In that painting, the woman’s hair is spread out, the way it was on my pillow all day every day (although in the painting, she looks like she is getting electrocuted…sometimes it felt that way). The black lightning entering her head represented the painting ideas that would come to me, and the colored lightning leaving her head were the ideas that left me for someone else because I couldn’t do anything about them.

Slowly I’ve been healing everything that was affected by the trauma held to my experience in the last few years of my life. That said, I am just a human who got thrown an unwieldy curveball, but because of it, I have an amazing collection of impact strategies for the next curveball in my life.

Picture"No Questions Please", oil on canvas, 40 x 30 in

A lot of us forget to take care of our bodies and eventually pay the price. What strategies have you developed for keeping the balance between work, life stuff, painting, and all the in between things?
 
It’s very simple: I listen to my body; of course, this is actually more complicated than it seems because when people get into the creative work zone, it’s easy to forget that you have a body; you forget to pee; you forget to eat; heck! It’s no wonder we artists have a reputation for being mentally unstable. But if I am going to do this for my whole life, I have to take care of myself. If I am painting and a muscle starts screaming at me, then I know it’s time to go stretch and take an epsom salt bath. 
 
As far as preventative measures go, I’ve found that doing yoga is the most helpful. In fact, as soon as I let my yoga practice slip into arrogant busy-ness, I get myself right up shit creek. I also eat as healthy as possible and I don’t smoke cigarettes (because I need my liver and lungs to stay as healthy as possible). I’m always exploring different healing modalities like Ayurveda, acupuncture, and something that saved my life: muscle kinesiology. When I am painting, I set a timer to go off every 30 minutes or so to stretch. I also lift weights to keep my body strong. 
 
I’m still working on balancing my “life stuff.” I have the tendency to work myself into a frenzy and then think that the world is coming to an end, when, really, I just need a sandwich and a bath.

What are you working on now? What are you looking forward to? Feel free to plug your next exhibition or project here ;)

I am currently working on a painting that’s as big as a queen size bed; it’s the largest painting I’ve ever done. And I am loving it! I am looking forward to all the positive things that are coming my way, which are unrevealed to me at this time. I am hoping for an exhibition in New York City this or next year. I have a few galleries and spaces in mind. Stay tuned.
Categories: interviews

The Curious Nature of Science

Posted on August 26, 2017

This morning I was thinking about all the times that the scientific community has shut down creative hypothetical thought with, "There is no scientific evidence that suppports [fill in the blank]" Here, we need to insert a very powerful word: "YET."

I think we should really be careful about getting too carried away with science as our primary and only teacher. Science has YET to uncover most of the mysteries of our planets, the cosmos, living beings, and the mysteries of the heart. I do believe Science is a process that has the ability to uncover those mysteries, but it has A LOT of work to do; it's really only scratched the bubble that surrounds the surface.

In the meanwhile, we have our hearts and our guts, we have compassion, we have intuition, we have our imaginations, posterity and legacy, dreams, pleasure, spirit (the root of the word "inspiration"), ideas, relationships, solitude, and art. I feel very strongly science should be influenced by those things; not the other way around. Once science goes around procaiming "There is no scientific evidence that spirit exists" (or what have you), you have a science that is leading you via lack of creative integrity and curioustiy. And that is about as life-withdrawn as a petrified turd. But who knows? Maybe science has yet to discover that life exists in petrified turds.

Categories: thoughts

A Prick

Posted on June 22, 2017

A teeny tiny pin prick pricked

And so the skin grew thicker

 

And two more pricks there pricked their prick

And so the skin grew quicker

 

And rise in weight and temperature

The skin began to callous

 

Till all the pricks were no more felt

The skin fell numb save malice

 

For skin too thick can turn itself

Quite into what it fears

 

A tiny prick will come and go

But skin can last for years

Categories: poetry

All of The Above

Posted on June 22, 2017

White as salt

        or Black as pepper

Sand is tiny colored rocks

        and stars are bright specks up above

 

Freckles are dust on skin

      dust is skin that's dead and been

Dust is stars and freckles and scars

      but live skin is what we live in

 

And the two dots in our eyes

    will never really see

If we are pepper, salt, or stars

    or maybe all of the above

 

 

Categories: poetry

My Beef with Feminism

Posted on May 22, 2017


An Essay By Dorielle Caimi

I have spent my life as a sincere participant in the Feminist movement, or, more accurately, participating in the principles behind much, if not most Feminist ideals. I flew out to Washington D.C. to partake in the Women’s March earlier this year; I have taken numerous women’s study and ethics courses; and my life’s work (my art) is rooted firmly in the study of women. Also, I am a woman. In short, I am a fierce woman’s rights activist. However, I have never been fond of the word “Feminism.” It never seemed to get down to the heart of the issue of inequality. So it is with much thought, heart, reflection, and research that I write these words: I believe that word “Feminism” has become obsolete. I fear that we are using an old word in a new zeitgeist, and I am wary of the implications of using the word “Feminism” in these sweet gender-bending days of now.

When I was at the Women’s March, I saw so many men and women wearing t-shirts that said: “Feminism: the radical notion that women are human.” In a visceral response, I found myself pondering this question: why bother with the word Feminism, then, if its main concern is to transcend gender and make being human the primary concern? Why use a word that constantly points to gender as primary?

The greatest indication I have that our sweet old lady-friend-of-a word, Feminism, is getting tired is evidenced by the rise of the LGBTQ movement. Feminism is having a hard time holding us all together in one neat little gender package. I am not sure how many more letters we are going to add to the LGBTQ acronym, but I am sure that people are beginning to transcend gender.

The problem with the word Feminism is that the very word itself forgets the masculine. It champions the female as independent. But independence does not exist; it’s a mirage; it’s the ego’s way of assigning the individual value. The truth is, we are not independent beings; we are interdependent. We need each other as social beings for survival. I champion the men who have walked the streets wearing t-shirts that say “I am a Feminist” (Bravo! or Brava! Not sure which one applies here). But I don’t think it’s fair to them to continue using this word. And I don’t think it’s fair to us. Men have to be brought to this table. But why would a man come to a table where a defining attribute of his being (at least physically) is completely absent? 

Fighting for equal rights now has changed. As Emma Watson declared in her address to the U.N. in 2014:

"Men don't have the benefit of equality either. We don't often talk about men being imprisoned by gender stereotypes.
When [men] are free, things will change for women as a natural consequence. If men don't have to be aggressive in order to be accepted, women won't be compelled to be submissive. If men don't have to control, women won't have to be controlled.
It is time that we all perceive gender on a spectrum, instead of two opposing ideals.”
She goes on to admit, however that “we are struggling for a uniting word.”
And what is that word? Well, currently the best we have is “Feminism.”

 However, the word Feminism ironically cannot encapsulate the ideals from which it departed. It is an exclusive, one-sided ideal. When our mothers’ mothers used it, Feminism was a novel bomb shelter. It was a way for women to build a protective construct around themselves so that they could have the freedom to explore themselves without the constructs of what society said a woman was. Since then, Feminism has stuck around doing what our fore-mothers didn’t want it to do: namely seeking to label women as this or that. That’s why Feminism has been through so many conflicting waves.

We cannot fight for equal rights from one side, and the very nature of the word “feminism” will always suggest one side, over and over again, unfinished, un-whole, like the Yin and Yang castrated from half of itself. It is an unwise word. It is a Catch-22, self-fulfilling-prophesy-of-a-word, and it is hurting our cause because it isolates us. It’s a Catch 22 because we want to be seen as human first, regardless of our sex, but the etymology of the word ironically points directly at our sex before it has time to address the human who just so happens to have a vagina. The more we keep parading around as Feminists, the more we are carrying around our old baggage unable to move into the light of interdependence.


There are those who would argue with me that I must not understand what Feminism truly means. I do. Let’s break down some history, shall we:
1. Feminism: This term dates all the way back to 1837 when Utopian Socialist, Charles Fourier, first coined the term “Féminisme.”
2. First-Wave Feminism started roughly in the late 1800’s and focused on legal issues that women faced, primarily women’s right to vote and own property.
3. Second-Wave Feminism came into play in the 1960’s and broadened the debate to a wider platform of issues, which delved into women’s sexual identity, domestic abuse, marital rape, reproductive rights, etc.
4. Third-wave Feminism came about in the 1990’s as a reaction to the perceived failings of first and second-wave Feminism by proclaiming that women basically should not be defined by their sex altogether. This form of Feminism came into play when non-heterosexual women and women of color started voicing that the old waves did not portray them accurately.
5. Fourth-wave Feminism takes spirituality into theory and attempts to take on politics, psychology, and spirituality of women’s issues: this includes things like taking a serious look at body shaming, sex work, plus-size fashion, and reproductive justice.
6. Post-Feminism, though not “anti-feminism” directly challenges 2nd and 3rd wave feminist ideologies. 
Now here is where things get tricky:
7- Infinity. There’s Liberal Feminism, which seeks individualistic equality to men. There is Radical Feminism, which is extreme, and basically blames men for everything. Libertarian Feminism, which proclaims women as self-owners, exempt from external interference; Separatist Feminism, which doesn’t support heterosexual relationships; Lesbian Feminism, which is closely related to Separatist Feminism. Conservative Feminism is conservative to the degree of the society around it; Ecofeminists claim that men’s control of land is responsible for the oppression of women and the destruction of the environment; Marxist Feminists argue that Capitalism is the root cause for the oppression of women; Anarcha-Feminists think we should struggle against the hierarchy. Other forms of Feminism include but are not limited to: Indigenous Feminism, Third-World Feminism, Africana Feminism, Transitional Feminism, Neo Feminism, Post-Colonial Feminism, Post-structural Feminism, and, my favorite, just because I love lipstick: Lipstick Feminism (which believes that makeup and revealing clothing are a form of female empowerment).

*phew*

    These are all concerns that surround women, yes, but the basic nature of all of it is that they call for a multitude of voices to be heard. None of them is totally correct, and none of them is totally wrong. This is because women, like men are not singularly anything. However, with Feminism constantly trying to wrangle us up into a group, we keep arguing over semantics instead of treating these issues, not as women’s issues, but as complex human issues.

    Outside of the Men’s Lib. Movement, I don’t see men squabbling over a term so profoundly as I do Feminism. It’s becoming very clear to me that the word Feminism has evolved into something completely new, like a cell that has split into so many different factions, that it has taken new form altogether. What is that form: it’s just a complex representation of humanity. It is a human call unto itself that cannot be defined by a singular and, in this case, polarizing term.

    As I write this now, I am terrified. But I’m not terrified of men. I’m terrified of women. I’m afraid they will think I’ve forsaken them and their cause. But, anyone who knows my life’s work (my art), knows that I am a champion for the rising of the feminine. It finally occurred to me that being afraid of saying I wasn’t a Feminist for fear of being attacked by women was a very ironic hypocrisy. When I realized I wasn’t free to say that I was not a Feminist, I realized that Feminism is tripping at the finish line. I realized that Feminism is creating chains, despite its intentions not to. If women are starting to feel inclined to say things like  “I’m so sick of Feminism. Women’s this, women’s that- just fuck off,” (as my friend screamed on Facebook one day) it is an indication that the word Feminism is teetering in a territory where it doesn’t belong, and we need to look at that. And just as our mothers had to let us go into the world and think for ourselves and express our thoughts, so too does Feminism need to let future generations grow up and express their thoughts. It has to let young men and women move into the uncharted territory that awaits us.

I think people are afraid to let go of the term because they are afraid that we will repeat the past if we don’t keep fighting for history as Feminists. After all, how can we forsake our familial traditions of hard-fought feminism, right? But I am not suggesting that we throw the female babies out with the bath water (let alone miraculously delete centuries of recorded human history); I am, however, suggesting that we get the babies out of the tub, and let them grow into their next phase of life. How about we stop using that word and start looking for a new word? Let’s face it, not everyone is willing to accept the label “Feminist” but most are willing to accept the label as “human.” Being human is our defining, transcendent common experience first, then our gender may or may not come into play. I strongly believe that this is where our mothers’ fight has lead us: for people like me to be free to say this.

It is very clear to me that this is the next step our fore mothers hoped for: putting Feminism to rest because it has unearthed new (or ancient) truths about human nature. I’m not going back into a practice of Feminism; I’m moving into a practice of being a human with both my masculine and feminine traits revered and intact. I’m going to perpetuate that practice because that is my divine right, and because there are too many experiences that both men and women share that transcend gender. I, personally, would like to stay open to those human experiences. I can understand that Feminists want to fight for a good cause, but even a good intention well-played will lead into new territory. And how are we to traverse this new terrain? The tricky part is knowing when you’re flogging a dead horse, and the scary part is being willing to get off and find a new one, or maybe even buy a hybrid vehicle.


There is so much energy that we are wasting by defending Feminism. We keep telling skeptics to look past the word and reach behind it for what it represents: fairness, justice, truth, equality, communication, agency, etc. But these are not “FEM-inist" topics of interest; these are human topics of interest. Human first; gender second. This is a concept where Feminism will never truly be able to arrive, unless it wants everyone to be feminine, and I don’t think that’s what we are wanting. But, for good measure, let’s debunk some Feminist ideals:

 Believing that plus-sized women are beautiful isn’t Feminist, it’s healthy human thinking. On the reverse side: believing that men can be attractive for a multitude of reasons outside of their physical build is also healthy human thinking. Women’s reproductive rights are not a Feminist issue, they are a human issue over which the people who can make babies in their bodies (that would be women) should be the primary policy writers in government. Respecting her choice to follow through with a pregnancy or not isn't Feminist; it’s human respect and trust that she knows when she is ready to become a mother. Standing up for badgered, raped, and killed women is not a Feminist issue; it’s good human virtue, and it profoundly involves the people who are doing the badgering, raping, and killing. Giving a woman time, privacy, and professional leave to breastfeed and to take care of her child benefits all of society, not just women. Fighting for women’s equal wages is not a Feminist fight; it’s necessary to elevate the human race. Allowing women to participate in politics and write policy isn’t “Feminism,” it’s allowing for more voices to be heard within the human race for a better understanding of itself. Understanding that all women are not the same isn’t “Feminist;” it’s agreeing to disagree and understanding that all people are not the same. Saying that these wars are Feminist in nature completely takes the root cause out of the equation. It puts up a wall between the masculine and the feminine. It’s as if we are constantly looking at effect, without looking at cause. Everything that happens to women affects men and everything that happens to men affects women. There is no war for Feminism; there is only a war for human rights: for who we authentically are as human.

If we can get rid of the word Feminism, then we can get rid of the baggage that it holds, we won’t have to waste time arguing about it anymore; men will be more inclined to get involved; and we can come together and start solving the bigger problems in the world that involve the wiser brains and hearts of both men and women (penises and vaginas aside).

And finally, Feminism is a divisive word. It’s very existence keeps us in a weird woman-shaped box and ties us to our sex in a very imbalanced way. It consequently ties men to their sex and reminds all of us constantly of our sexual differences, which there very well may be but not in all cases. Feminism is a name for an army; and trust me, this is not a war we want to wage. It would be like the dog that chases its tail: the dog can wage war with its own tail all it wants, but ultimately it’s waging war on itself (and probably also becoming dysfunctionally dizzy).
 
I used to be a Feminist, but I am no longer a Feminist; I am a human rights activist and I should be free to say so. This is because at the root of Feminism, all we are asking is to be seen as human: Human is Primary, Gender is Secondary. “Feminism” embodies only one side of gender and the absence of the other. It cannot be used to efficiently imply equality and wholeness because that simply just isn’t what that word can do. And finally, I am not wasting anymore time arguing with women and men about semantics. If I am not free to say that I am not a Feminist, then Feminism has failed.

I think we need to allow ourselves the chance to be free: Free to evolve into whatever comes next: free to bury the hatchets of the past; freedom to prove ourselves through our actions, and freedom to allow people to say who and what they are and what they are not. Freedom to be free, to change, to love, to be wise, and to evolve. Let’s put that on a T-shirt.
Categories: essays

The Heart to the Brain

Posted on March 05, 2017
 
"I know you dont trust me!" screamed the heart to the brain.
"We don't get along, you and I. We are so different:
 I don't use words and sentences and logic, like you do, so you don't trust me
But as we are inseperable in this lockstep, allow me to open your mind:
 
I sense danger before you do. 
I feel love first before you can even comprehend it.
When you least expect it, I bring you peace and forgiveness
while you are still comprehending the anger
 
I am so far ahead of you, dear brain
I beat in a steadfast rhythm 
like the focused tortoise 
that only knows truth, trust, and patience
 
I feel what you don't know yet
So please give me the steering wheel 
And be quiet for a little while.
Because I know more than you think."
Categories: poetry

Our Sweet Word FEMINISM Is Tired (a poem on new times and new words)

Posted on December 12, 2016

 

So the word "FEMINISM"
I like what you stand for
But....

I don't like your -ism.
I don't like your exclusivity
I don't like how
The very nature of you, dear dear word,
Polarizes us
Women

The innate nature of you
Tells us
That it is only women
Who are part of this
Inequality

Well. The dance, my dear word,
Is not strictly feminine
The fight Is not
Ours alone.

The inequality is felt
By both "sides" (if there are sides)
of the
masculine AND feminine

You, my sweet, powerful, enchantress-of-word, who gave our mothers
motive and voice,
Have moved us into our present.

Thank you.

For all we know
You helped give gentle rise to
LGBQT people
Who wished to move into the light

You taught us,
both men and women
That it's ok
To cry.

But now, we are in the present
That you birthed
And we need new words
To hold us ALL now

For we are not so much
Ruled by our sex
As we are
By our spirits

And our spirits are housed
In these bodies
And these bodies now
Identify with pink as man
Or trucks as woman

And, so, dear sweet, tired word, stay your values but rest your bones.

Teach us now
The power of the words
"GENDER EQUALITY"
And we will make you proud.

Categories: poetry

A Woman's Bath

Posted on October 20, 2016

A Woman’s Bath

 

This woman’s bath of mine

A self-inflicted Lulluby

 

A chance to L E T  G O

In a womb of our Creation

 

Your bath is hot fluid forgiveness

                    the body’s ease

 

A bath is a replication of your

 

Mothers’

Mothers’

Mothers’

 

Love, well wishes, and peace

 

For their daughters

X forever back

Forever forward

 

And on we truly LIVE

Beyond our mother's hot warm wet bath.

Categories: poetry

nanny nanny boo boo

Posted on September 04, 2016

Civil_whore_paint_w_frame_small

CIVIL WHORE PAINT

The girl had had enough.

The fighting; clawing her way out from behind a face of grasping perfection. Her body was something that was worshiped and criticized till there was nothing left to worship.

So she became addicted to the criticism because in it, she was reminded of the glory days of adoration.

But she was fucking tired.

She had been fighting to know herself since her birth, but constantly fought against the current of sandpaper that claimed it existed to make her smooth, but really it just stung, and she worried about the scars it would leave.

She had been battling with the scrutiny, the rulings over her body; her wages; her cellulite; the bridge of her nose, her nipples, and whether they were dinner-plate sized or tight and perky (this was preferred). So much war around her that she didn’t know what to fight anymore:

 

Others or Herself.

 

So she became very quiet. She put her face on, and bled in silence.

She kept telling herself that she was not a whore...a silly thing to employ as consolation when she knew herself to be a Lamb. She developed ways to cope, ways to appease; ways to manipulate from behind her beautiful facade, for she was not allowed to have it out on the battlefield; some might call it kind of sexy, maniacal crazy.

 

But beneath the god-damned rules, and below her raging hormones, and the drama, and the urge to pull away, which she dutifully resisted, no one could touch her. No one could claim their right to her skin and mind, and in the quiet hours of the night, she knew this to be truth.

 

So she woke up, and she rose from the trenches of her soft bed, and she put her face on:

her makeup:

her face paint:

her war paint:

her “whore” paint,

as some might call it, their eyes squinting in slits of judgement.

Her battle, she knew, was one that existed outside, but her blade, and white flag, and ammo only existed inside herself: it was indeed a civil war.

 

She realized her only job was to know when to fight, and when to put her hand up, never in surrender, but in dismissive mockery. She would take back what little of herself that she had, and she would fight for it.

 

So she looked her opponents straight into the eyes (O so many eyes), and whispered these words: "nanny nanny boo boo."

 

Categories: interpretations

The Siren's Choice

Posted on September 04, 2016

The Siren's Choice

The Siren is many things. Sort of like the tide She never meant to harm.

But she is she and she



Came into the world above with legs, with curious soft tissues Inside, laying eggs

But water is as water does and water



Rises and rose around her Pushing on her lungs Pulling on her spine Speaking many tongues

And confusion is confusing and confusion



Pulled her under and sink she finally did and for a minute her eyelids closed their lids

But living is what living is and life



Would not let her die or let her live So of her floundering pruny limbs

Two, she decided, would become A pair of fins

 

Surface_tension_small

 

 

Categories: poetry

Voice

Posted on September 01, 2016

If you voice your opinion, people will fight you and people will listen to you. Be prepared for both, and remember that neither matter if you're voicing your clearest truth, for you'll be tasting the ozone; you'll be feeling all the unsprouted seeds' potential boom beneath your feet; and you will know your worth. 

Categories: thoughts

Pudenda Love Poem

Posted on September 01, 2016

Don’t fall in love with my genitals
Fall in love with my jokes: because the greatest joke is that generally we all have genitals
Don’t fall in love with my genius
Fall in love with my mistakes: the ones you hate and the ones that worked out accidentally

Don’t fall in love with my benign smile
Fall in love with the world that gave me that smile and be wary when it’s upside down
Don’t fall in love with my beauty
Fall in love with my changes: with the tides of water and blood in this hot, living thing of me

Don’t fall in love with me externally
Fall in love with the ghosts that operate my insides mysteriously and made these acne scars
Don’t fall in love at me; fall in love through me 
Fall in love with my humanness, and baby, you’ll fall in love with yours

(written by the river, and me sitting next to it, swatting mosquitos)

Categories: poetry