Sunday, 24 October 2010

honouring this

"i can't getcha outta jail, but i can getcha outta hell..."

oh, kate bornstein. queen advocate of coping strategies. someone should put her in charge. i hope by the time i get to my sixties i have as much compassion and wisdom to give, and keep on giving. do you know about her anti-suicide book? do you know about the blog where she keeps on posting and responding to comments from suicidal young people? oh i wish i'd had those sorts of messages when i was a teenager. i wish i'd had them when i was 25.

honestly, i see her work as so important and counter-cultural. keeping the people alive who can't bear to live here. not by making them stay, but by offering them a message they have almost certainly never heard: "You can do whatever it takes to make your life more worth living. Anything. Anything at all. It can be immoral, unethical, or illegal [...] It can even be self-destructive." so that there keep on being more of us, so there are more of us to work against the culture, even if that's only by staying alive. "There's only one rule [...]: Don't be mean. That's the only rule you ever need to follow to make sure that your life is gonna get better. If you're not mean, you can do anything it takes to make your life more worth living. [...] It takes true courage to follow your outlaw identities and desires in the world. Doing that nearly always ends you up with less worldly power. But I promise: you can always do something to make your life better every single day of your freaky geeky life."

and i'd like to do another project like this but aimed at adults, people who don't consider themselves 'teens, freaks and other outlaws'. or at least come up with a good, simple way of expressing this stuff, to use in my work. does stabbing your partner when it seems like he's going to kill you count as being mean? i have a lot of these kinds of conversations with women who can never forgive themselves for fighting back, and who have been (or are in the process of being) gravely punished for keeping themselves alive. 

and about how women cope with it. all the crazy stuff that people do in crazy situations - it needs to be honoured. the incredible Young Women's Empowerment Project (in Chicago) has the tagline "girls do what they have to do to survive".

how do you bring that kind of message to adult women who are already trapped, or even already criminalised for doing whatever it took to make their life more worth living?

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