16 August 2014

I ♥ Being a Girl people, Ilze

Hey-ho folks!

My name is Ilze Leimane and this is my story!

There are thousands of things that can make me happy but three that always work are

What brought me to I ♥ Being a Girl? The fact that I ♥ Being a Girl!
Once upon a time (5 years ago) I started to volunteer in  Latvia's Association For Family Planning and Reproductive Health which inspired me to educate myself more about the issues all over the world and one of them (with thousand sub-issues) is sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). From the local I decided to go global. I have been volunteering in Europe and Asia, gained experience and inspiration to do something on this topic. For quite a while I am part of the YSAFE group where I have met dozen of inspiring people with the interest to improve the SRHR=Human rights.

Surely world be a better place if we would
  • watch more documentaries over various topics. Here you can find bunch of them. Personally, my last favourite is Schooling The World (2010) 
  • listen reggae, meditative and tribal music! And here is one great musician Asa (Asha)! You should get to know her!
  • read more books as such! I recommenced Khaled Hosseini books (very strong, cruel and honest stories from the Afghanistan that won't let you go for a while after finishing the book). Also, you should read blogs, start with the I ♥ Being a Girl to make world a better place! One more recommendation is this blog. It's about the 20-years-old girl who is cycling around the world! Inspirational!
  • step in a another man's shoes for a day. Just try and you will break many of your own prejudices and stereotypes!

There are millions of things I want to do before I am 80! I want to create something sustainable for the people around me and beyond, visit 6 continents and learn 6 languages, learn how to dance, how to play ukulele, how to balance! Live in African village at least for a year, return to Puducherry, live in a eco-village, change someone's life, overcome my fears, change my stereotypes and hike the Kilimanjaro! I want to be healthy and unstoppable! Proud, useful, happy and the most important - to have a choice!

Emotions are contagious, spread more positivity and good thoughts. It will affect other people who will affect more people. If you think that you are too small to change something, try sleeping with a mosquito in the same room.


15 August 2014

Friday is the (Inspirational) Movie Night: Frida (2002)


There are many reasons to be obsessed with Frida Khalo. Her paintings, her life story, her activism, her style, her resilience... Frida (2002, Julie Taymor) offers a taste for all of it. It's a high-budget Hollywood interpretation, of course, and bound to be an interpretation after what's known about her life and what can be seen in her paintings through the prism of the director and many other people. And through the Frida Kahlo myth too, of course.

Nevertheless there are certain aspects of her life that are very clear.
  • The use of personal, painful, often gendered experiences in creative expression, working through and with them (very similarly as Sylvia Plath, by the way). 
  • The courage to embrace her roots and go beyond them at the same time. Her way of both painting and dress is clearly based on Mexican imagery, but then she takes it a step farther and makes it her very own.
  • The wish to follow her desires, to act upon them. While this is not supposed to be always easy, there's no doubt that Frida's journey was an authentic one.  
Etc, etc... the internets are full of people - including us, of course - swooning over Frida's work and icon that the popular culture has turned her. Go, read some! But, whatever you read, keep in mind that, as somebody on tumblr said:
"Frida Kahlo was a disabled politically active woman of color who deliberately fucked with gender roles and don’t you ever forget it."

P.S. For the dessert, here's the story on her dresses: 1, 2.

08 August 2014

Friday is the (Inspirational) Movie Night: Summertime (1955)


Just in time for August, another treat with Katharine Hepburn: Summertime (1955, David Lean). And exactly as it happens with many more classic - and contemporary - movies, there are several ways how you can read the plot. Our mission is emancipatory, so on that we shall focus...

1) A woman traveling solo to a country she does not know without speaking a word in its language. Already daring.

2) She is not young. Or breathtakingly beautiful. Or overly confident. But she's very excited to be doing things and going places.

3) She meets a person. And has lots of fun with them. While nobody is promising marriage or happily ever after.

4) After that, she takes a decision to stop a relationship that is not promising anything more than she has already seen. She leaves. To go back to her life. Because she has a life. For real.   

Obviously, all of this happens in a sauce of she wasn't really living until she met the right man, but - as we did with Roman Holiday (1953), which has a very very similar narrative - let's treat the love interest as a driver of empowerment and self-discovery instead of being a prince charming and a savior. Because in both of these movies (both set in Italy, curiously enough, the paragon of loose morals for 1950's Hollywood, apparently), the protagonists have romantic fun and then move on. With a bittersweet break-up, yes, but with little doubts about what they have to do and where are they going.

And before most of the above happens, this quote:
"Renato De Rossi: Listen to me! Stop behaving like a schoolgirl! What my wife does is not your business. What signora Fiorini does is not your business. You come here and what you do? You hide in a gondola and you sigh “Oh, Venice is so beautiful, so romantic! Oh, these Italians, so beautiful, so romantic! Such children!” and you dream of meeting someone you want: young, rich, witty, brilliant, and unmarried, of course! But me, I’m a shopkeeper, not young, not rich, not witty, not brilliant and married, of course. But I am a man, and you are a woman. But you see…it’s “wrong” it’s “wicked” it’s this, it’s that. You’re like a hungry child who is given ravioli to eat. “No!” you say, “I want beef steak!” My dear girl…you are hungry. Eat the ravioli.
Jane Hudson: I’m not that hungry.
Renato De Rossi: We are all that hungry, Miss Hudson."
Realizing your most authentic needs and fulfilling them is very important. And sometimes other people might help with that.

01 August 2014

Friday is the (Inspirational) Movie Night: Sylvia Plath movies


This is a tragic story. We've warned you. But it's also essential for your herstory knowledge and a very good way to empathize with the problematic of The Feminine Mystique, to understand the great drama of those women educated (therefore craving stimulus and self-realization) but confined to running a household and suffering whatever comes in order to keep up the appearances and keep the family together*.

We offer a double feature about the poet Sylvia Plath (1932-1963). Open her wikipedia page, scan through it, then start with the movie version of her acclaimed semi-autobiographical novel The Bell Jar (1963) - The Bell Jar (1979, Larry Peerce). A coming-of-age story gone sour is just what you need to observe the moment when the idealism and ambition (to become a renowned poet) clashes with the adult world. In this case the adult world implies dumbing things down for the audience of a women's magazine, men that think people owe them sex, fear of pregnancy, fear of the future, invasive and traumatic psychiatric treatment, the desire to disappear...

The novel is based on the experience Plath had while doing an internship in a New York magazine and her consecutive mental breakdown. A version about that summer in Sylvia's life can be read in Pain, Parties, Work: Sylvia Plath in New York, Summer 1953.

Then go on with Sylvia (2003, Christine Jeffs) covering Plath's career after the recovery, relationship with Ted Hughes, and suicide at the age of 30. While putting no stigma on Sylvia's history of mental health issues, the movie charts the path from poetry and love, through the hell of betrayal, inability to create and utter abandonment, back to writing from the darkest places of her experience and moving generations of people with the sheer force of her suffering. 

The relationship dynamics are pretty much the same as depicted in Hemingway & Gellhorn (2012) - full of the struggle to create, to get out of the shadow of a celebrity-partner and deal with their ego - just more intense and with a tragic ending.

* Here it is about running a household instead of doing anything else as a consequence of social norms requiring it (while offering almost no alternatives, and demanding that you become a wife and a mother primarily even if you are a great poet, scientist, dancer, doctor...). It is obviously not the same as being able to decide to dedicate yourself to caring because that's what resonates with your most authentic self.