Tuesday, April 27, 2010


I have completed a few more pages on my Love and Loss book, phewwww.
I received an upset e mail about my "FOR THE LADIES" art show call-out (see: previous post) stating that calling women ladies is condescending. I wrote back stating that I'd been misconstrued, that I am asking for anyone of any gender that identifies as a lady to respond. Hopefully that cleared that up, but I really have to admit, sometimes I wonder if this is a stupid idea and am doing some 'straight(ish) white(ish) male(ish)' fumbling and stumbling. I wonder if there are any men at LadyFest? I'm such a second guesser. And, yes, if it does rub you wrong the way, feel free to express that: I want to keep it an open platform. Althoooooo..... I thought I had a wide variety of responses until I realised I have nothing from non-female ladies! Anyone who is or knows of anyone that identifies as a lady and is non-female or was born non-female? Please please please contact me! Somewhat serious responsees only please.
On to topic at hand. I made a personal break-through this weekend. Hmm, have I taken my post-relationship blog post from a few days ago down yet? I think I will now. It's tooooo revealing, maybe tooo vulnerable...there! It's down! Anyways, back to my breakthroughs, even if I had done everything 'just so' and did not have my character defects, the relationship would have still ended the same way, no matter what. So I have to stop beating myself up and feeling serious remorse over the part I played. I still have personal work to do, of course, I'm not doing it for a finished relationship. And this personal work is never ending! Wish me luck, it gets scary.
I read two things this week which got me thinking. I've started reading The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen, a great piece of fiction so far. In it, one main character is writing an awful misogynistic screenplay that's basically angry and vindictive towards women that he feels messed up his life (ie. a college sex scandal). The book is quite uproarious- tho verrrry dark- in its' truths. I also read a newspaper interview with someone who wrote an angry non-fiction book called "I hate Your Band" or "I Won't See Your Band" or something. The writer had given up on dating arty/musician guys who (pigeonhole alert)wear vintage frames (ouch, wish I had perfect vision), ride bikes (ouch), play in bands that she doesn't want to sit through (mmmmaybe ha ha), etcetera etcetera...The whole interview read as a verrrrry bitter thing that may have been better served with professional therapy.
(Gawd, I wish I could afford therapy)
Those two examples made me realise that for my book (which is on Love and Loss)and for all of my art, I best steer clear of the personal vindictive as it is an unhealthy way to reach people. Certainly anger and bitterness are stages that will need to be explored in a book on Love and Loss, but it has to be worn well and with class intact. I had been guilty in the past of being personally angry in my art and I can certainly say from experience, that it never looks good.
Luckily, I don't feel that angry. Grumpy, yes.
I also found an amazing book on grieving at a church rummage sale. It has great layout and ideas. Should I post some pages? Let me know.


Jonna said...

man, call me any other thing you can think of, but when i get called a lady i gag a little. some other women may disagree with me, but i've met very few levelheaded gals that enjoy being addressed as "hello ladies". it's condescending, definitely, but it's also the kind of downright cornball smarminess that i'd expect out of a balding swinger in the seventies. condescending or not, it's still tasteless.

Anonymous said...

it's good to believe in something.

if you knew you would go your whole life without receiving any recognition for your 'creative talent' would you still do it and feel good about it?

Robert Dayton, Junior said...

Jonna: luckily my project entails anyone of any gender that identifies as a lady so perhaps you meant to post your comment elsewhere.
Anonymous:nice use of quotations, gives it a 'cute' condescending vibe. Post under your actual name instead of hiding, then maybe we'll be able to talk more honestly. In the meantime, if you were a tree what kind of tree would you be?

Jonna said...

Robert, why would you think I meant to post my comment elsewhere?

I don't really know why you asked for feedback - you seem affronted when anyone gives you any.

One honest question: why is the word "lady" so important to this project, anyhow? Since the word is so negatively loaded for many female-identifying 'ladies', perhaps knowing your attachment to the word would help clear up your artistic intention for me. I'm a little confused about your motivations, here.

Robert Dayton, Junior said...

Jonna, pardon me,I thought you were saying that with the project I was calling all women ladies when you were just explaining your problem with the term 'lady.' And, like many bloggers, I had been facing pseudonymous/anonymous commenters trying to raise my ire-I thought you was pseudonymous. My confusion, my mistake.
Trust me, I don't feel affronted all the time at feedback, it is appreciated, art is about communication, sometimes such things as criticism can be hard to take but- upon pausing to eat crow- sometimes it can also be valuable.
All of the responses that I have garnered so far have been from women, many strong levelheaded feminist artists who see no problem with the term lady. And I have a wide range of things to draw from.
The one negative response was from someone who thought I was calling all women ladies (hence my affront). But it did cause me to further articulate 'why.'
I hope that you don't mind the cut-and-paste but I'm tirrrrred:
"I am glad you let me know your position on 'ladies.' The call I initially sent was clumsy (I even restructured it moments after I hit 'send'-aaargh, I had sent you folks the first draft before anyone else!!!!ai yai yai).
I certainly don't have all the answers and I am not claiming an ability to represent a female experience. But I do want an open discourse and the great thing is that I am in the preliminary stages so it does help formulate ideas better.
The subjects that I am portraying-ie.the work itself- is what will be most important and that's why I've asked for advice and dialogue, but I am not actively pursuing confrontation. Admittedly, once one gets into gender issues, it gets thorny.
I am straightish whiteish maleish, there's no getting around that but I hoped by explicitly stating that I am asking for responses from anyone who identifies as a lady it would squash any form of posturing of machismo. I have a personal dissatisfaction with elements of masculine culture. See, I do not readily identify with masculine tropes- are we binary? Can one dwell in the grey areas between feminine and masculine tropes?
I simply can't call it "For The Women" for several reasons. I really believe that elements of masculine and feminine dwell in all of us, I want to be inclusive. If I called it "For the Women" I also believe it would be more suspect. If I saw a guy give a show that title I would really call his motives into question, I'd be wondering, "What's his angle?" And also, the show has a playful tone, my work is playful. Sure I could call it "For the Ladeeez" but then it gets even more problematic (slang appropriation) and distant and ironic in tone which I don't want."

Josephine said...

Yes! Post the pages from the book on grieving. I love your pagescans.

I have gotten so much flack for identifying myself as a lady. Once person was like "you call yourself a feminist?" (I actually never called myself a feminist to them, they just assumed I had, and maybe I am, maybe I'm not, but really now). Certain words need to be "taken back". This is my statement: There is nothing wrong with "lady".

In posting this I fully realize that people might tell me exactly what they see wrong with "lady". Please please please fill your boots.

Robert Dayton, Junior said...

Hi Josephine,
I've had plenty of response from self-identifying ladies that are talented, independent women artists.
The only criticism I've had of the word as it's been articulated is that it's condescending, which I see any word could be if used in a certain tone. I haven't received any explanations, much as I am curious to properly know.
Right now I am scanning cat images but I'll get to the grief soon.
Especially since I have the art show and book project (which I am second guessing over, sigh, I need some serious feedback) to get moving on.