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I’m a Misogynist


Recently I went to the eye doctor, and after the nurse did my initial eye check she said, “the doctor will be in to see you in a few minutes.”  Soon the door opened, and a beautiful young woman walked in.  I noticed my first reaction was, “this can’t be the doctor.”

Horrified, I started challenging my original thought.  Of course women are doctors.  Of course this woman can be in her late twenties or early thirties and be a doctor.  Of course women who are smart and educated can also be gorgeous and sexy.  All of these things I know are true, but yet my initial gut reaction was one of surprise when this woman walked in the door, when I was expecting the doctor.  Then it hit me what the problem was.

I realized that I’m a misogynist.

Even though I’ve studied internalized oppression, internalized sexism, and I’ve taught my students about it, I’m not immune.  If I had such limiting beliefs about doctors and the woman in front of me, is it possible I have these beliefs about myself as well?

It takes a hard look at yourself.  In meditation we see things we don’t really want to see about ourselves.  And then we can’t un-see them.  Personally, I think I’ve been operating my whole life with the fundamental belief that men are the ones in power in the world, and in order to achieve my goals or to be successful, at some point I’ll need to convince male gatekeepers of that power to support me, and to give me what I want, or to give me permission.

In my mind, deep below all of my feminist ideals and intellectual background, that means sex appeal.  This is the way to power in the world.

Where did I get that message?  Being raised in an environment of sexual abuse probably didn’t help.  But in the film America the Beautiful 3, director Darryl Roberts looks at how images in the media are sending girls the message that, “if you’re not fuck-able, you’re invisible.”

I see a lot of teenage girls going through that dance – realizing that they have this sexuality, that it is a kind of power, and then seeing how they can use it to get attention and the things that they want.  In his TED Talk, Why I Stopped Watching Porn, Ran Gavrieli talks about how most 12-year-olds now have access to porn.  Girls grow up with the idea not only that their power is only in their attractiveness to men, but that using their sexuality (reduced by porn to simply mean penetration) is also the only way to get love.

We think that using sex appeal gives us power, but really we are not empowered at all.  We are only borrowing power, like a loan from a bank, who has the ability to foreclose on us at any time when they decide we’re no longer “fuck-able.”

A lot of female musicians seem to walk the line, too, between owning female sexual power and giving it away.  In Lady Gaga’s live performance of Poker Face, she seems strong and empowered, even when saying, “get your dicks out,” and miming giving hand jobs while singing.  I’m not so sure here.  I’m not convinced.  It seems like the message here is that the only way to hold onto your own sexuality as a woman is to be the pimp as well as the whore.  You’re willingly giving it away, and you don’t give a shit.

This is the story of the old madam in the brothel, and the way women have navigated patriarchy for thousands of years.  This is a lot of what my song Chameleon is about.

Is that the only way, even now?

I don’t know the answer yet.  I’m just sitting with the question.

I’m just starting with this – I’m a misogynist.  Now what to do about it?

The Monsters Inside Us

“Monsters are real, and ghosts are real too. They live inside us, and sometimes, they win.” – Stephen King


In a recent interview I was asked, “do you mind being associated with ghouls and monsters?”  This started me thinking. Why do I dress up as monsters?  Do I feel like I’m a monster?

Monsters serve a purpose for us.  They allow us to access a part of ourselves that we often deny.  And sometimes this is useful. We spend so much of our lives trying to be pretty, to be nice, to be accepted.  There is something we love about bringing out the ugly, messy bits, the animal ferocity, the abandon that monsters allow us.

This is especially true for women.  Often we get the feeling that we will be rewarded for being quiet, nice, and pretty.  I feel that we need a space to be aggressive and bloody.

It’s not about violence or negativity, or being depressed.  It’s about reclaiming a part of ourselves that we’ve denied, in order to be a full expression of our humanity.

So join me.  Let’s be monsters.  RAWR.

Happy Halloween!

p.s. stay tuned – very soon you’ll have gifts of new songs and videos from Noelle Picara :)

Vulnerability – Lessons for Creative People and Sexual Abuse Survivors

I watched this TED talk by Brené Brown this weekend.  Then I watched it again.  

If you’re a performer or a survivor of trauma, watch this video.  Since I’m both, it was especially striking to me.  I had to watch it twice.  Some thoughts:

Shame, according to Brown, is the thing that keeps us from connecting with other people.  We’re so afraid that there’s something wrong with us that we can’t connect to others.

For survivors of sexual abuse, like me, shame is the main side effect we have to deal with.  A pervading sense of shame seeps into everything we do.  I remember being afraid to leave the house for periods of time, because when I was walking down Main Street in Newark, just to go to the drugstore, I felt like “people will see me and KNOW.”  Yes, I felt “excruciatingly vulnerable” – Brown’s definition of shame.  Any time I got an answer wrong in a class, or a friend got irritated at something I said – there it was – that flareup of shame again.

This is what struck me about this:

Sexual abuse attacks the victim by keeping them from connecting to other people.

It’s a simple yet important thing for everyone to understand.  Connecting with other people is the most meaningful experience in life, and sexual abuse takes that away from the victim.  



According to Brown, though, there’s hope.  People who were able to connect with others and finally feel a sense of self worth were the ones who showed courage, which she says, according to its etymology, actually means:

“Telling the story of who you are with your whole heart.”

See.  Performers.  Writers.  Artists.  Creative people.  This is where you come in.  

People who are able to connect with others let themselves be vulnerable.  They have the courage to be imperfect, and to show others their imperfections, and to say the two most powerful words that Brown says you can say to another person,

“Me too.”

This is what I’m doing.  Join me.


Noelle Picara