But I'm beginning to feel an urge to post again, and I'm missing you, an audience of readers, dare I say friends, with whom to share ideas or observations or photos. Some of that urge has been channelled toward writing a few posts which I'll publish over the next couple of weeks. But some of it wants a more immediate outlet. Sometimes the urge is spontaneous and it demands some immediate venting. The topic is usually fleeting and superficial, and I want to know what you think Now, while I'm still reacting myself.
For example. . . .
My current pet peeve. This word "badass" in its newly claimed feminist dimensions. Have you heard it? read it? It seems to be especially prominent at this Olympic moment, when every female athlete worth her salt is lauded for the quality. It's been around for a while, though. I started noticing it a couple of years ago, and I didn't mind it too much at first. I'm happy enough to applaud women who take on tough, mostly physical, challenges or who sport fearless or courageous attitudes, who take on political or social or economic establishments and "speak truth to power." But what started to creep in and make me feel, at first, uncomfortable, and then impatient, and finally just annoyed, was a tendency to oppose "being a badass" with "being a princess." A neighbour of mine, an otherwise very inspiring 60-year-old fitness enthusiast and mentor, first drew this unfortunate binary to my attention in a post she wrote which asked "Are you a warrior or a princess?" In the post, she used the term "badass" as interchangeable with "warrior": both badasses and warriors would run through deep puddles, unafraid of mud; they would ignore signs declaring trails unsafe in favour of exploring at will; they would, definitively, be willing to "blow snot rockets," rather than using a kleenex they had daintily tucked into their pocket like the loser princesses who shared the trail with them.
I could not spit on the ground, in public or private, or blow a "snot rocket," to save my life. My granddaughter's life, just maybe, but I'd need some serious coaching and practice first. And I really can't imagine any advantage this might provide over my Kleenex which, you know, doesn't demand all that much space in my pocket.
So yeah, guilty as charged: I'm a princess. Not keen on wandering up the trail along the crumbly cliff either. Don't like to risk getting lost by "exploring" a new trail on my own. Take absolutely forever to talk myself into getting the bike outside by myself and riding it, solo, through the city streets (Finally did that, though, and that post is written, will be up here soon). I'm not at all confident about my athletic abilities, thanks to a long-ago P.E.
But it's not just athleticism and/or physical boldness I'm talking about when I object to this word "badass," to the supposed opposition between a Warrior attitude and a Princess's. What bothers me is a readiness to applaud one kind of woman at the expense of another. Yesterday, when I'd returned from a delightful few hours with my three-year-old granddaughter, sauntering through her neighbourhood, sniffing and naming garden flowers, playing in the waterpark and on the swings, eating waffles on the patio of a cafe, I checked out Facebook, as you do. A friend was celebrating her 60th birthday while on a motorcycle road trip through some impressively wild and remote terrain, and another friend congratulated her on her "badassery." Not that I want to be congratulated for hanging with the grandkids, but there's something that seems far from feminist in the rendering invisible or blandly pleasant, uninteresting, innocuous of the domestic quotidian of so many lives. And it's supremely wearying, honestly, to think that yet more bars are being raised, more standards of judgment on how cool we're managing to be post 60. . .
Pater and I are heading out to a French lesson in a few minutes -- we're trying out a new tutor, readying ourselves for some travel this fall. I'm not sure if a French lesson counts as Princess or Badass/Warrior territory -- I can't see why it would be useful at all to think in those terms, and I think the terms themselves are revealed as clearly problematic when we try to apply them here, especially when trying to describe my husband's role. Surely feminists should be broadening roles, not trying to define them more tightly, not applauding one at the expense of another. What say you?
If you're interested in reading a bit more about the recent use of this term and its feminist implications, this article and this one offer a more sustained thinking-through than my short rant here. I'd love to hear what you think on the topic. Are you a BadAss Princess? Or just a Princess? Or a Nana BadAss? Does your Badass self need some Princess Pampering regularly? Or, like me, would you like to ditch the labels and ditch them NOW?