I tried to draw myself a little reminder. The exhibit leaves the National Museum of Women in the Arts on January 6th, I believe. So I drew myself a little picture so that I would not miss it. It was a little sketch on a post-it note by my nightstand. It was supposed to be a guitar and a . My husband asked me about it with raised eyebrows. He had the sticky note affixed to his thumb as he held it up.
“Are you trying to get pregnant?”
“Why did you draw this sperm breaking an egg barrier?”
Seriously? He didn’t seem relieved by my doodle explanation.
My reminder didn’t work as well. By about 3:55 on a Sunday afternoon I zoomed in my broke-down Honda towards downtown Washington DC. The museum closes at 5. After banging my tiny fists on the steering wheel several times I wasn’t surprised that my frustration didn’t will me a parking spot. I was determined enough to pay 14 bucks for parking several blocks away. The girl excepting ‘suggested donations’ was pleasant enough to rush me towards the 2nd floor without collecting my admissions.
Phew! I made it. I had to stop myself from taking notes like some ultra-nerd. I stood in awe of the fox stole Billie Holiday wore, and Loretta Lynn’s The Pill lyrics penned on a tattered piece of paper. By the time I got to Aretha Franklin’s green dress I wondered how such little straps could help control such vivaciousness.
I loved Cher’s Native American inspired get-up. On a more daring college day I would have worn a version of that to class. (I might be exaggerating a little bit but not really. I was really ridiculous with my outfits back in the day.)
By the time I got to Madonna’s pointy bra I felt a little conflicted. The tiny man trying to get my attention didn’t help. He started with a few icebreaker question. When does the museum close? Where is the bathroom? I sighed heavily hoping he would hear my mini resistance and get the point. I was taking in women’s culture for goodness sakes! I was supporting my fellow woman by attending the exhibit. Since college, it was as close as I had gotten to publically burning my bra. He didn’t get it.
After he got up the nerve to tell me how beautiful I was I snatched off my left glove and wriggled my ring finger in his face, “My HUS-BAND thinks so too.” That has always been more effective than simply being uninterested.
By Lady GaGa’s meat dress and Rihanna’s spiked bustier I knew what my conflict was. I wondered how women’s agency relates to the things woman wear. Is a person like Lady Gaga making the world a better place by wearing a meat dress? Or, is she causing more harm to women by substantiating that women must dress a certain way to make a statement. Just a question from a woman who spends more time wasting away in a cubicle than participating in the feminist guerilla warfare she dreamed about in college.