Genderlicious: Video Weekend

It's the weekend! Let's watch TV.

I surprised myself this past month by getting hooked on two youtube videos that involved neither cats with weird faces, nor commercial products. Here are two videos that make me feel better about the world:

1. Rae Spoon's "We Become Our Own Wolves", animated by Jessica MacCormack and women in prison at the Isabel MacNeil House.

This one seemed timely because the 35th Prisoner Justice Day in Canada is next week.

Jessica MacCormack explains this video on her website:

During the summer of 2007, while on a residency with Modern Fuel Artist Run Centre/The Artel, I worked on an art project with the women in The Isabel MacNeil House (the only low security federal prison for women in Canada). For three weeks I met with the women three times a week to paint and draw with them with the intention to eventually create an animation with their artworks (no cameras are allowed in the facility). The final project was put to the music of "We become our own wolves" by Rae Spoon. Upon completion, there was a screening for the women and each received a copy of the DVD.

On the video's youtube page, MacCormack also includes a link to the Elizabeth Fry Society, who work with and for women and girls in the justice system.

Rae Spoon is pretty cool too.

You can access the lyrics to "We Become Our Own Wolves" here.

2. Tanya Davis' "How to be Alone," set to video by Andrea Dorfman

Lord I hate being alone. At one point I was quite good at it, but now I am a failure in this department. My anxiety around solitude tends to attack much more when I am alone at home, than alone in the streets—nonetheless this very friendly poem about how to be alone out in the world from Tanya Davis video-ised by Andrea Dorfman, is comforting; if only for the fact that it shows me that other people struggle with this too. Take that, heteronormativity!

How to Be Alone, by Tanya Davis

If you are at first lonely, be patient. If you've not been alone much, or if when you were, you weren't okay with it, then just wait. You'll find it's fine to be alone once you're embracing it.

We could start with the acceptable places, the bathroom, the coffee shop, the library. Where you can stall and read the paper, where you can get your caffeine fix and sit and stay there. Where you can browse the stacks and smell the books. You're not supposed to talk much anyway so it's safe there.

There's also the gym. If you're shy you could hang out with yourself in mirrors, you could put headphones in.

And there's public transportation, because we all gotta go places.

And there's prayer and meditation. No one will think less if you're hanging with your breath seeking peace and salvation.

Start simple. Things you may have previously based on your "avoid being alone" principles.

The lunch counter. Where you will be surrounded by chow-downers. Employees who only have an hour and their spouses work across town and so they -- like you -- will be alone.

Resist the urge to hang out with your cell phone.

When you are comfortable with eat lunch and run, take yourself out for dinner. A restaurant with linen and silverware. You're no less intriguing a person when you're eating solo dessert to cleaning the whipped cream from the dish with your finger. In fact some people at full tables will wish they were where you were.

Go to the movies. Where it is dark and soothing. Alone in your seat amidst a fleeting community.

And then, take yourself out dancing to a club where no one knows you. Stand on the outside of the floor till the lights convince you more and more and the music shows you. Dance like no one's watching...because, they're probably not. And, if they are, assume it is with best of human intentions. The way bodies move genuinely to beats is, after all, gorgeous and affecting. Dance until you're sweating, and beads of perspiration remind you of life's best things, down your back like a brook of blessings.

Go to the woods alone, and the trees and squirrels will watch for you.

Go to an unfamiliar city, roam the streets, there are always statues to talk to and benches made for sitting give strangers a shared existence if only for a minute and these moments can be so uplifting and the conversations you get in by sitting alone on benches might've never happened had you not been there by yourself.

Society is afraid of alonedom, like lonely hearts are wasting away in basements, like people must have problems if, after a while, nobody is dating them. But lonely is a freedom that breaths easy and weightless and lonely is healing if you make it.

You could stand, swathed by groups and mobs or hold hands with your partner, look both further and farther for the endless quest for company. But no one's in your head and by the time you translate your thoughts, some essence of them may be lost or perhaps it is just kept.

Perhaps in the interest of loving oneself, perhaps all those sappy slogans from preschool over to high school's groaning were tokens for holding the lonely at bay. Because if you're happy in your head then solitude is blessed and alone is okay.

It's okay if no one believes like you. All experience is unique, no one has the same synapses, can't think like you, for this be relieved, keeps things interesting life's magic things in reach.

And it doesn't mean you're not connected, that community's not present, just take the perspective you get from being one person in one head and feel the effects of it. Take silence and respect it. If you have an art that needs practice, stop neglecting it. if your family doesn't get you, or religious sect is not meant for you, don't obsess about it.

You could be in an instant surrounded if you needed it.
If your heart is bleeding, make the best of it.

There is heat in freezing, be a testament.

by Thea Lim
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3 Comments Have Been Posted

beautiful videos!

Thanks for sharing them. I definitely need to work on not hanging out with my cell phone.

Did someone say "<a href="/comments-policy">Comments Policy</a>"?

"How to Be Alone" has been

"How to Be Alone" has been making the rounds of my Facebook contacts' pages. Everyone who has seen it has been deeply moved by it. I think "We Become Our Own Wolves" will have a similar trajectory now.

How to Be Alone

is indeed lovely. It reminds me of <i>Party of One: The Loner's Manifesto</i> by Anneli S. Rufus ( and, to a lesser extent, the anti-giving-yourself-up-in-relationships book <i>Quirkyalone</i> by Sasha Cagen ( .) Both are wonderful books that deconstruct society's fear of a solitary figure. Rufus' book also, fascinatingly, illuminates how the term "loner" has been pathologized by the media -- just think of Columbine, which became mythologized as a "loner's revenge" scenario when both shooters were actually very social -- and also points to the ways in which popular films and novels sometimes paint <i>male</i> loners as heroic while leaving less-than-ubersocial women in the cold.

All of which is to say, I'm delighted that this video is popular, as it gives me hope that maybe people are unpacking the lone figure stigma a bit more. As you may have guessed, I'm a big fan of alone-time myself, as it's my personal way to my most productive <i>and</i> relaxing times.

Interestingly, the pop group The Veronicas just sent the video to their fans, which also delights me. The sooner a teenager hears that it's okay to spend time alone, the better!

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