We all feel the same.

We need more female directors. 

That was my first thought after watching An Invisible Sign which was directed by Marilyn Agrelo. A woman. Which is nice.

But then I got to thinking about my childhood and about my life now. When I was little I was (and probably still am) a weird kid. I wanted to know everything. I wanted to do everything. I wanted to like everything. Except pink. I didn’t want to like pink. 

Pink was girly. Pink was everything I didn’t want to be. It represented vapidness, shallowness and above all it represented meanness. The girls who liked pink didn’t want to know everything or be anything. They wanted the boys to notice them, to make the cheer squad and to be as feminine as possible. They made me feel bad for not feeling that way. I wanted to go to space camp, dig up dinosaur bones and be the best catcher in my softball league. They didn’t understand me and I didn’t understand them and in the end that was totally okay. 

We are all okay now. We are adults with lives and ambitions and just because they weren’t the same doesn’t mean any of us were wrong. But, what it meant for me was that I had a little adversity to overcome and most of it was brought on by me. When I think back to all the times that I felt isolated and mocked I realized that most of the time it was in my head. When you are one of the few people who thinks a certain way you have a hard time seeing from anyone else’s perspective. I didn’t like how I made myself feel and I took it out on them and I think I’m still working through that. 

Now though, I realize that it’s these same issues that I think a lot of people, including myself, are blinded with today. We grow up seeing movies and television and reading books that enforce how we all felt as children. They hone in on the way society made us all feel and how we made ourselves feel and that perpetuated the stereotypes of girly and manly and everything in between. All of that causes what I think may be the biggest injustice which is the fact that we forget how we actually feel. I hated pink. Not because pink was a bad color but because it made me feel less than the girls who did. And I missed out on a lot of great pink. 

We all feel the same. What I mean is that we all have deep, crushing feelings and we forget that everyone has them too. We don’t need more female directors per se. We need more directors who know how they feel. J.K. Rowling successfully wrote a book from the perspective of a young boy. She did this because she realized the one thing that most people don’t. We all feel the same. 

Harry Potter’s feelings, reactions and emotions were exactly how we all felt growing up. She wrote a character that could be any of us. Take away the gender and it’s still the same. That’s exactly what we need. 

Fear is not forever.

When I was in middle school I wanted to paint my walls like Lothlorien. We didn’t have the money and even though I hated my pink walls they had to stay. I couldn’t understand why people painted their walls solid colors. A wall that’s a solid color is a wall. I wall that’s a forest could be anything.  

Now that I am out of school and experiencing all of rigors of the real world I keep thinking back to my childhood and wondering why I thought that I could never have a truly creative job. I feel like I am dragging myself, kicking and screaming, into doing what I want to be doing. I knew I could be anything as long as anything was a lawyer, a scientist or a graphic designer. Being a writer, director or sculptor? That as never a realistic thing. 

Now I’m surrounded by options and I have no idea what I want to do because I want to do it all. I want to create things in several mediums and express how I feel. I want to make movies, write a graphic novel and write a children’s book. I want to make completely immersive environments in parks, museums and galleries so that any kid can walk in and experience what it’s like to be somewhere else. I want to find my imagination again. The imagination I lost when I thought I couldn’t be something. 

After that, I want to teach. I want every kid to know what they have at their feet. I want the limitations to stop and I want them to have someone to talk to about how they feel and to help them find the best way to express how they feel to the world. Because we need more people who feel.

We all feel the same.  

Taking a Step Back to Ask Why

So, today I was on Reddit. Normally I try to steer myself to the positive and informative discussions and avoid the anger inducing idiocies that the internet is so adept at brining out. Today though, I stumbled into a sub that was making fun of the feminist campaign of ‘I need feminism because.’ Not only did the sub commandeer the name of the movement but it was extremely misleading unless you read the sidebar. The funny thing about it was that it wasn’t the posts that were so bad but the description of the sub itself. The posts seemed to reflect valid interpretations of the subject matter which is why it took me so long to realize that the sub was actually a group of people rallying around emotionally hurting feminists.

The sidebar reflected a common internet troll (I know everyone hates that word now). It was clearly written by a person who had been slighted in some way by the movement. Someone who is defensive because he/she has only been exposed to the darker sides of feminism. Let’s be clear, feminism has a dark side. Every movement has a side that is comprised of people who have just been through too much or feel too much and therefore take it too far. It’s those people that create the people who created r/mensrights. I’m not saying that these extremists aren’t valid and that they don’t have a right to be angry but when you go about asserting your anger badly you are going to create your own downfall. Much like King Arthur created Mordred, we create our own worst enemies.

So when I finally figured out that I had stumbled upon a vitriolic reaction to one of my favorite campaigns I naturally became angry. It’s always hard to have people telling you that your experiences and emotions aren’t valid or are too intense. I hate seeing people blatantly deny that the things that I go through on a daily basis actually happen. And it’s funny because before I figured out their agenda I was agreeing with a lot of posts.

They’re right sometimes. There are other reasons that women make less money than men. A lot of the pain women experience is often inflicted by other women. Men also experience discrimination and it can be even more overlooked. And most importantly, most men are pretty great. We let our experiences with the terrible 30% of the male population affect the way that we treat the other 70% and that’s not fair. The problem with all of this is that what that other 30% does is just so deplorable that we build up this shield to defend ourselves from them and the other 70% suffer by default.

The thing is, we don’t need that other 70% creating subreddits that undermine our cause and devalue our feelings. We need them to stand up for us, admit there is something wrong and do their best to stop it when it happens. We don’t need a knight in shining armor to save us. We need every man to stand beside us and to tell that 30% that what they’re doing is not okay. It makes me so sad to see instead that they’ve decided to let their bad experiences overwhelm their judgement. That they will continue to be so defensive that they feel the need to belittle and undermine people who are trying to express how they feel. It also makes me sad how many women will engage with their behavior and lend it credibility.

That’s when I asked myself ‘why?’. Why do we automatically jump on the defensive and why don’t we bother to ask these people why they have reacted that way? If we are ever in a situation where we are faced with, say, a man mocking another man for loving My Little Pony, why don’t we ever bother to ask them why it bothers them? There’s a pretty good chance that they’ve never thought about why either.

This can be said for a lot of actions. We go through the daily motions and through most of it we never bother to think about why we are doing it. I am well aware that some people are just assholes. There all all sorts of people in the world. The assholes can rarely be helped but those people who respond with such vitriol just want to be understood. They want someone to listen for once to why they feel these feelings.

I think we could all benefit from stepping back and asking why. No judgement. No anger. Just a simple why. Maybe if we tried to do that, even just once a week, we’d have a lot less hate.