be free be strong

Stayed up ‘til 4 in the morning working on this bad boy– a submission to the Women’s March on Washington call for art. I’d love for it to be chosen, knowing my artwork is there, standing strong for women’s rights when I wasn’t able to (I WILL be at the sister march in Austin though!) I’m also aware, though, that I went a little crazy with the illustrative part and it may not make for a great political poster… oh well! 

the art of saying no was a numbing in our mouths. we learned how to form it gently, to swallow the punch, to let down with gentlest hands. we learned how to fake a smile, to force a chuckle, to take disgust and turn it into polite denial, to take fear and weigh our options and submit. 

he said he needed sex because oh it hurt how we made him. he said we should have just smiled back at him. he said that we could have learned karate to fight them. he said that we couldn’t say no, he was our boyfriend. 

how many girls are raised to feel guilty for no. we feel it must come with a reason. our no has to have qualifications. if our no isn’t enough, we are expected to cave in. 

the battle of our inner strength and our outer bodies. how we calculate small injustice versus our personal safety. how we’d form no in small ways that made him feel like it was our fault. how we’d let him down in a way he wouldn’t follow us home. we’d say no without the words; lying about sudden appointments or phone calls, we’d invent husbands, we’d suddenly become best friends with the woman beside us. we always had someone waiting at home for us - usually big and angry - who would notice if we were missing. we enter in our phone numbers with the last two digits switched. we say we’re going to the bathroom we’ll be right back before we take off running. 

and our no, those two letters, was never good enough. we either rejected him too harshly or not clearly. if we said no, we weren’t in love. the no was too forceful, the no was too gentle. the no meant ask nicely, the no meant keep persisting. the no was because we’re all catty and cruel and hate nice men. the no was because we’re all paranoid bitches. the no was wait long enough and it’s a yes. the no was playing hard to get.

and our life was learning. it amazes me sometimes when men tell me, “but she never said no” and i hear her story. how he was her boss and she would lose her job and it was her everything. how he said no but men aren’t allowed to refuse these things. i was thirteen the first time i had to spend a two hour train ride gently turning down a middle-aged man and someone else told me i should have just screamed or hit him or done something. how the girls i told all nodded solemnly because they know what it’s like to be thirteen and scared and to be eighteen and scared and how to be twenty-three and scared. because we’ve all said no and had it blow up in our faces. we’ve watched men turn from flirty to aggressive. we’ve seen what happens to our friends.

but in the end it’s our fault. don’t you know a man can’t take rejection.

anyway my final opinion on the ready for it music video (written w/ a lot of input from @shesdeads):

hoodie taylor is training caged taylor.  she isn’t holding her captive out of malice, but is instead preparing her to survive in the outside world, as someone who doesn’t fit in (because she herself doesn’t fit in either, considering she’s the only one of the cyborgs outside of the glass cage who has a face).  

when hoodie taylor approaches, the other taylor takes a stance as though she’s waiting to begin training.

and at first they seem to be sort of going through the motions, like a routine.  hoodie taylor watches as the caged taylor goes through all of these transformations, and she seems sort of bored and unimpressed, like she’s seen it before.

then, eventually, caged taylor learns to control the blue light, and hoodie taylor’s personality seems to shift.  she pushes back her hood to watch more closely, and even smiles.

she looks at her with pride….and this is when she first touches the glass. it knocks caged taylor down….but it’s because hoodie taylor recognizes she can do more.  suddenly, when she asks “are you ready for it?” it becomes obvious she’s asking the caged taylor if she’s ready to harness her full potential.  

when caged taylor develops full control over the lightning, hoodie taylor stands back and watches, letting her do it.  “letting the games begin” because they both recognize that caged taylor won’t have to be trapped much longer now that she’s strong.

they approach the glass not as enemies but as equals, which is why they place their hands in the same spot, to create a connection that allows the cage to break open.  the two have to, at least for a moment, become one, in order for caged taylor to escape.

and then the glass shatters.  but…caged taylor doesn’t look angry when she does it.  @shesdeads pointed out that instead she looks….upset, or devastated, even, as though in that moment of the glass shattering, she realized that by releasing her, hoodie taylor wouldn’t survive.

and hoodie taylor, for her part, seems to be completely at peace, as though she knew this was going to happen.

now that she’s strong enough, caged taylor is allowed to go free, and hoodie taylor, stripped of the the human skin that made her different and perhaps intimidating to the other cyborgs, holds them off.  she too is shown to have the ability to control lightning, meaning that she may have once been in the same place that caged taylor was.

as the other taylor sacrifices herself, caged taylor makes her escape, and a singular tear trails down her face, because the other taylor had to die for her to be free.

in my opinion, this means that the darker taylor, the one in the hoodie, represents all of the old taylors, and the media’s perception of them.  she’s the one that recognizes the world is cruel, and trains the caged taylor because she wants her to be able to survive.  and by sacrificing that version of herself to protect her, she gives the now freed taylor the opportunity to start fresh, and maybe not end up the same way she did.

but even with the hoodie taylor gone, caged taylor’s eyes still flicker, because a trace of that taylor will always be inside of her.

4

“ Its all up to him now…”

Part 1/Part 2/Part 3/Au info