The Personal Is Political


Dear TRIBE Friends,

Diana Vreeland, Yoko Ono, Lauren Hutton, In├Ęz de la Fressange, Angela Davis,,Betsey Johnson, Cicely Tyson, Frida Kahlo, Georgia O’Keefe, Simone De Beauvoir, Audre Lord, Diane Von Furstenberg, Miuccia Prada, Anne Lamott, Benazir Bhutto, Kimora Lee Simmons, Smart. powerful, stylish, brave women.
And they each have spoken their truth through a personal style that is decidedly individual and brave.

The question about personal style is one that is endlessly fascinating. Most
actresses are taught from their first acting class that having “actress length hair” and a neutral palate of other personally identifying style attributes are a requisite for being a tabula rasa upon which a character may be drawn.
This kind of makes sense of course, but the craft of the artist is to be able to be a chameleon when needed. Wigs exist…, but the imagination of the writer/director/producer/studio is not to be taxed . Actresses are to be blank canvases, clay if you will, through whom a character may be brought to life.

And actresses are basically an extension of the role of women in our world. Women…and children…and marginalized folks of all description, remain a canvas upon which the power games of the dominant androcentric imagination are played out…for better or for worse.

The artist Cindy Sherman has made a career out of looking at this idea of identity and women. She utterly transforms herself into myriad versions of a woman, through costume and make up and setting…all using herself as the canvas. She then photographs her creation.

“The personal is political” is a phrase that was collectively created during Stage Two feminism, and it motivates the opening of “private” or “social ” matters .through the lens of ones’ personal experience. It is a radical act to tell one’s story, to assert one’s experience. This is ESPECIALLY true for woman or anyone who is marginalized. The act of creation, of volition, is usually reserved for a dominant POV. And so we often feel more comfortable seeing ourselves through that lens too…but chances are, that ISN’T your real voice.

In other words, YOU getting to know yourself at a deep level, and then telling YOUR stories boldly should open others to have insights and ‘ah has’…and to find their OWN voices as well. Of course, until we know our truth, it is impossible to speak it. Many, if not most, of the world’s religions tell us how to look at ourselves, and there can be dire consequences for questioning the roles that supposedly come to us from God.

Even Goddess religions have internal systems of hierarchical oppressiveness at their organizational core! This came as a shock to a colleague of mine who was doing her PhD on the subject. So this means that you can dress up in a bunch of flowing gowns or gender bending clothes, and still be channeling a poison pedagogy or teaching method, and saying it comes from God! It is crazy!!
Honestly? Our truth resides within…and the greatest gift we can give the world is to really get to know ourselves, and then tell our story in a way that frees others to do the same.

When you talk, whose voice do YOU use?
Who are YOU?

That is always the question.