Thursday, June 14, 2007

The nagging question

I've been sick for about a week, and took two days off work this week. Dizziness, nausea, tiredness, elevated blood pressure, and aches and pains. Annoying. Pretty much over with, too, thank the Maker.

No, I am NOT pregnant.

Sheesh. Get sick with symptoms of dizziness, nausea, tiredness, elevated BP, and aches and pains, and the whole world asks you one question. "Are you pregnant?"

Invariably, I say: "No. I have an IUD."

Almost as invariably, they respond: "Oh, girlfriend, I have known so many people..."

And then there you are, awash in naked fear you feel guilty for experiencing. Fear of ectopic pregnancy and its symptoms, fear of losing a fetus you did not plan and suffering the grief and guilt because you use mutagenic medicines and drink a lot of caffeine and, face it, have a copper deedle-bopper impaling the neck of your uterus, fear of having a child, mutated flipper-baby with copper deedlybops or otherwise. The worst thing is that you are reduced to a sliver of your identity, not even the feebly individual bastion of gender, but just plain old ineradicable biology: not a career person, not a hobbyist, not so-and-so's friend and so-and-so's loved one, not an educated person of integrity and courage... no, you are, at that moment, rhetorically demoted to a uterus and a sack of helpless hormones. Because you know that's how they see you, with a glee half joy and half malice.

I love you all, but hey-- my eyes are up here.

Fine. I peed on a stick. And as expected, I am not pregnant. Which is just as the Emperor had foreseen... because I do have an IUD, I do use a mutagenic medicine (my rosacea ointment), I do intake mammoth amounts of caffeine, I am haphazard about my nutrition (not like most Americans, but still, not like an expectant mother), and I am a citizen of the First World who is sure she is not (quite) ready (if she ever will be).

[Now might be a good time to mention that I fully admire people who choose to have kids and who raise them with attention and care. I just don't think the automatic assumption that "you're pregnant" needs to follow any dizzy spell... hell, it could be a brain tumor. Here's hoping that doctors are more scrupulous than co-workers in their characterizations.]

I've been exceedingly pissed off at the excellent (if only because it does not charge the dunderheaded audience to vote) reality TV show, On the Lot, for similar reasons.

Many of the eighteen junior directors spotlighted in competition therein are remarkable. Many are just not there (yet if ever, like me and parenting): immature social vision, mawkish plots and characters, distracting cinematographic decisions. Unfortunately, two of the worst are women-- and that's two out of only six women included in the original eighteen. Two of the original six/eighteen women directors are already off the show... and they are not the beastly ones.

Every time Garry Marshall opens his big fat mouth to talk to a female director (or the show's female host, or about a female actor) he annoys the daylights out of me. "You bring a female vision to this field and I, for one, want to see more women directors-- but maybe this was too much like a feminine hygeine ad or a Hallmark movie. Proceed directly to Oxygen!-- do not pass Go, do not collect $200." (Okay, so he didn't say it, but by God, it's what he's been saying.)

And it's not just him: Carrie Fisher, who ought from hard experience to know fucking better, does it too. "You're going to have to try harder than that to make it as a woman in this business."

And one of the rather good ones has already been stereotyped: "You make sexy films." How much shall we blame her if she wears scandalously low necklines and calls Garry Marshall "big daddy?" Grrrrrrrr.... there's a point when "what's a girl to do?" is too easy.

Goddamn it. As Mims might put it: They suck because they suck. I would personally like to posit the idea that it is because they just aren't good at story or characters, and not because they have a certain chromosomal morphology. Or they are good because they are good. Can't it be that simple? And why not?

Maybe they are trying too hard to bring a fresh and gendered vision to the screen: that would guarantee its suckage, because diagetic art is always strident and grating. Quite probably gender inequality is at the top of their minds as they produce these short films. But why should dismissal be that simple and that independent of our taste as an audience? I think that's the logical extension of the gender approach to critiquing their art.

Certainly the sucky ones have pissed me off with their self-presentation: Hilary Weisman Graham's "look at me I am a Jewish stay at home mom," and Jess Brillhart's "oh it's so hard to be a woman director, aren't men stupid?"

Anyway. Do someone a favor and forget about her uterus today. Even if she's you. It'll keep me from going round the bend, which is a definite possibility.


Anonymous said...

ha ha u peed on a stick!

Ducks said...

Drink bleach. :)

Lithium said...

Hey Ducks, couldn't agree with you more. Let me tell you, it gets even more irritating after you have one kid -- it's like everyone is just waiting for the second. Because they come in packs of two, you know. And even the most innocent of questions -- "Can we bring a fourth to the party?" -- leads people to think you have a bun in the oven. Give it a rest, people! :-)

King Dave the Surly said...

I accept your challenge! I will forget all about my uterus for the next 24 hours.

"Paging Dr. Backbone to the Bajingo Ward..." -- Dr. Bob Kelso