Sunday, January 13, 2008

sweet, and preggers, sixteen


there is something beautiful about an articulate, self-confident, pregnant 16-year-old alterna-chick. in the movie Juno anyway. i saw this movie friday with my dear friend L. who is herself an amazingly articulate, intelligent feminist scholar and highly edumacated film critic. L. felt that there is something better than a highly articulate preggers 16-year-old. that is, a more accurate characterization of the life of your average, knocked-up teen. this is where we begged to differ.

several members of my family still hark back to a time (that mind you, never existed) when i was goth. apparently any 16-year-old with a shaved head, long skirt, and combat boots is some kind of goth. this points, i believe, to the overcharacterization of what it means to be a "goth" in popular media. i was not goth. no matter how many times relatives try to wrangle me into a black lipstick wearing, personal scarification performing, trenchcoat-wearing deviant, i maintain my alterna-chickness. cause that is what i was. and that's that. the reason i mention my previous incarnation as the baddest bad-ass (who never did anything wrong in her life, mind you) is because i think this provides the basis of my reading the character of Juno as deeply real, whereas my lovely friend L. read her as overdone. surreal. and ultimately ineffective as a character.

i believe that not only did i know young women like Juno, but that i was one. i was the girl inside my head. and, of course, i thought i was highly articulate. i was exceedingly self-confident. and let's face it - i was 16 years old - therefore i knew EVERYTHING. you couldn't stop me from giving my opinion. telling it like it was. simply being a know-it-all with all of my vast life experience and gritty youth on the streets of middle-class small-town ontario. yup. i was the baddest badass. for reals.

the main difference between me and Juno was that she got preggers and i didn't. and again, if we are facing facts, girls like me didn't get pregnant. even if we did. i remember the girl in my highschool who did get pregnant. at 15. she was the first girl in our catholic highschool that was openly pregnant. and gonna have it. be in for the long haul. she scared the shit out of me. we shared side-by-side lockers and one day i told her how brave i thought she was. she just shrugged it off and was like, "whatever, i'm pregnant, i can handle it." at the time i thought that was the most profound f*cking thing i had ever heard. handle it. dude. that's deep for a friggin' 15-year-old.

so that is that. the difference between L. and i. i lockered beside Juno. i watched her get bigger. i met her baby when her mother brought it to school to visit. i saw it handled. surreally. the point of this post - if i in fact have one - is that young women are profound. they are articulate. they are self-confident. and hopefully brazenly knowledgeable. it is perhaps only after we feel the stings of inequality. at work. at home. know the patronizing intonation in voices when everything we do seems to deserve a "good for you!," and experience the responsibility of expectation. compulsory femininity. enforced propriety. it is then we feel not to stable in our identities as the baddest badasses. and try to live in the judgment our bodies, ourselves, seem to attract. the gaze we can't shake. the overwhelming responsibilities of our "proper" selves. and perhaps we crack a little. we doubt. we don't know everything. and everyone seems to attempt to remind us.

i miss my 16-year-old shaved-headed (not goth) badass self. she was bitchin'. maybe she wasn't the worldliest. and she certainly didn't know everything she thought she did. but she was unendingly brave. infallibly so. she rubbed up against expectation and consistently pissed on it. she was cool.

and i think (hope, perhaps) that i'd make her proud.

2 comments:

Shells said...

Wow

Well done.

PS. I loved her too.
PPS. I think there is a Juno in all of us, just waiting to get out. God, I hope so.

t_moore8 said...
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