Sunday, May 28, 2006
And now, an ode to my favorite radical feminist
Mind you, Hothead doesn't necessarily see herself as a "radical feminist," exactly; she never said she was a "radical lesbian," so what the hell does it mean that "some rigid dyke with a pole up her ass" once told her she wasn't "a radical lesbian in her book" 'cause the Hotness eats meat and talks about sex out loud?
Nah, Hothead doesn't have much truck with most of the dogma. She keeps lesbian sex rags, has the hots for Sharquee the "black, dyke, witch, prostitute" psychic card-reader, and knows from what to do with a handful of clothespins and a good-looking transgendered love-object, Daphne (no, you don't need to know from what to what, or what Daphne's genitals are; what are you, Louie Lunkhead from the Bronx?) on a hot, sweltery summer night.
Hothead knows what she wants: a world where it's beachy weather all the time, the women walk fearlessly down the street, topless and in love, men are dreamy peaceful flower children, hermaphrodites abound, and the "queer," the freaky, the unabashedly erotic are the norm. Even the spiders are friendly. Pretty simple needs, really.
Instead, she finds herself in a world where this shit keeps happening:
Aannnd now, heap on top of that taste of everyday homophobia: constant pressure from the media and elsewhere to be a helpless girlie girl girl and take whatever shit men, straight folk, the world wants to dish out; miserable New York cold and/or sticky oppressive heat 10 months out of the year; unmedicated bipolar disorder; and overall being "sentenced to live in a rich white banker's scrotal sac." Add to that: being a smart sensitive woman in a world fulla stupid and mean, and o' course, all the unnecessary legal and social miseries heaped on her and hers. Marinate in approximately 90 cups of coffee per day, and an endless parade of horrible sexist TV images (which she won't turn off) . Tamp down well, seal in a development so arrested it's positively fossilized, set her evil personality #2 to set watch over the whole thing, and...stand...well...back...
from Diane DiMassa's preamble to the canon:
I wonder what would happen if say, some lesbian really checked out for lunch, you know, like say her brain just totally shit the bed one day, and she starts believing everything she sees on TV. So like, while she's going about her daily queer routine, all this T.V. crap is seeping in and she's getting psychotic, and like she needs therapy really bad, but she doesn't know it? I bet her boundaries would be really fuzzy. I bet she'd be lots of fun* to be around. I bet she'd be a real
(*while we're on the subject of "fun:" you know that famous Andrea Dworkin quote,
"I'm a feminist. Not the fun kind."?
1) "not fun"=! "therefore, deserves to be taken more Seriously." and
2) who says being militant and furious can't be fun? I happen to think Valerie Solanas was oodles of fun. Crazier 'n' a shithouse rat, true, but..fun!)
In addition to a full arsenal of guns, grenades, axes, mallets and chainsaws, (not to mention the infamous rip-the-rapists'-spines-out-through-their-assholes episode), Hothead has a number of other methods of dispatching oppressive straight men and their enablers. She pushes a typical beer-n-bikini billboard ("Ape Piss Dark") onto the team of men who created it...twenty stories below. A couple of white supremacists make her so angry that she causes them to spontaneously combust. A horrible homophobic mink-coated woman (along with her over-pampered son and her invisible "spritzhead" daughter) is firmly escorted off the premises and then the planet by helpful aliens who've also had enough, finally, of her "rotten, crappy energy." ("First stop, Planet Toilet. Here's your scrub brush.")
All of which is completely excellent and kosher in my book. Hey, if you're gonna smash the patriarchy, then smash the patriarchy. (And use the tiny shattered remnants as compost, the better to eventually plant catnip for your kitty and basil for your Grandma).
And yet, and yet...and yet. Hothead, like so much else in this world, is more complex than she first appears. Certainly taken in the context of her entire world. Sooner or later, she'll plunge from her manic, gleefully murderous high; the ensuing depression keeps her in her apartment for weeks and months at a time. The near-hysterical laughter and fury can turn on a dime to tears (and vice versa).
She does have friends on her side--Roz, the blind boomer Buddhist, ever kindly even when angry; Chicken, loyal kitty sidekick who's as stable as Hothead is erratic; her (mystically, perhaps) Catholic, rifle-toting, Gramma, who feeds her love and sustenance; and even, maybe, just maybe...
Well, not by that name.
Lampy? (in Hothead's dream journeying, the Divine bears an uncanny resemblance to the lamp on her nightstand).
(Apparently, the real name is Donna Summer; the disco diva stole it from Her).
But Hothead can't really see who or what she has for more than a few fleeting seconds at a time. Her "armor," the "evil personality #2," is too heavy; increasingly, as the book progresses, there are signs that it's no longer serving her.
And it becomes more and more apparent to us, if not to Hothead (bless her little black boots), that in fact, she's lost the plot. What she's doing is fun and all, and Kali knows, deserved; but ultimately it's hurting her more than it is anyone else.
(Some peoples' interpretation of the threefold/karmic law in paganism: it's not so much that what goes around, comes around as that it takes at least three times as much energy--any kind of energy-- building up in yourself, as you'll need to project it far enough into the external world to cause an effect).
In her later days, Hothead either actually attempts suicide or comes close enough to seriously scare her friends. In the aftermath, Roz gets inside that armor just far enough to elicit this revelation from the normally not-self-insightful-at-all Hothead:
I feel like I'm in a science fiction movie and everyone got a part but me! I'm lost on this planet. Alien to any tribe or race. I'm scared shit of people, and places. Somebody left me, small fry, out overnight. I can't see through the downpour, corralled by fears that have become the parameters of my life! The only way I can get through the day is to push my feelings so far away that I'm the last to know...I can't get bigger...stuck-wrapped bound tight in the duct-tape of my emotions. My antenna is out all the way, poking into the bullshit, and I get transmitted lightning-rod-feet-in-the-puddle-rage...
I rage out there, out and away, because as long as I'm far out in the stroke zone I don't have to step into here, the abandoned nursery, where I might trip over some old yellow bones and fall through a hole into the basement where I'll be face to face with the storage vault, which will disappear me! I'm caught in a loop of wanting and stunting short. The loop is getting sickeningly small and I'm wearing my stomach for a hat. Mostly, I fight with myself, wrestling over a magic trick that I was just about to perform but got interrupted. I'm too tired to run and I know that if I sit still, gleaming surgical scalpels will come singing out of a black sky in perfect formation to fillet me...
And in that moment of blinding realization...she goes on yet another rampage. Kill the demons of depression and anger and despair and inertia and...! KILL THE FUCKERS DEAD!! YAAAAA!!!
"Was this the plan?" wonders Roz, who was undoubtedly aiming for something a bit more Zen.
"Well, everyone's allowed room for their own interpretation!" replies Donna/Lampy.
And although Hothead seems to be making some glacial progress of a sort by the last issue--she manages to go twenty-four hours without doing anything more destructive than breaking a bathroom when it's revealed that she and the homophobic oit who supervises her granny's building actually kinda sorta...(gasp!) like each other--the interpretation is still open.
Assume that the world really is the craptastic, homophobic, misogynistic, racist, top-down, hate-and-dirt filled, damn-near unfixable mess that it appears. Now what? What is to be done?
Everyone's allowed room for their own interpretation.
I enjoy Hothead's.
But I love Diane DiMassa's.
Now, I realize that there are those who don't see humor as an effective instrument for change. "Malestream," did I read somewhere recently? Something or other about the tools of the master?
(DiMassa's tools will never dismantle de master's house!!!)
(sorry. sorry. sorry.)
Welll...everyone's allowed room for their own interpretation. Plenty o'room in this house, after all.
We'll all see what is or isn't effective for personal *or* political change.
In the long run.
In the meantime, I maintain, laughing matters. Anger matters. Lust matters. Wield them as you will; they're yours, as tools or weapons, or both.
And with that, I'm off to order, FINALLY! Chicken's Own Comic Book!