I don’t like writing about myself because I prefer focusing on more engaging topics, but this time I want to crawl from under the rock where I live (metaphorically speaking) to introduce something new for this blog. Recently, I’ve taken a long walk down memory lane which provided lots of food for thought and what you are reading it’s the result. I’ve held a school seminar on music and culture in the 90s in Seattle and Olympia: I went through the music I used to listen when I was in my 20s, I read many books about the riot grrrl movement, I realized the importance of those years for my personal growth as a person and as a woman. From there, I started thinking of what being a women in the 21st century means and about the meaning of the word “feminism” today. The charming Marcel Proust and his infamous questionary gave me the inspiration to write my own questionary, based on self-perception, (active) feminism and sexism, with an implicit reference to the 90s and the ones who wanted “Revolution Girl-Style now”. Since then, lots has been done in terms of sex equality, but there’s still a lot to do, especially in my country, where recent scandals have shown that some men have a degrading vision of women and that some women still use their bodies and sex as a bargaining chip in exchange for favours and money.
There is no explicit political or sociological intent behind this project, but I think it’s important, for me, to give voice to women I admire and respect (fellow bloggers and friends from Italy, from other European coutries and from the U.S.): their inner strenght, will power, creativity and assertiveness will be – I hope – a drop of positivity in a sea of misery.
The first guest blogger is Rose, from Milan.
*What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
The impossibility of developing one’s humanity and talent.
*What is your idea of earthly happiness?
The possibility for everybody to live a serene and meaningful life.
*Who are your favorite heroines of fiction?
Offhand: Orlando, Holly Golightly, Emma Peel.
*Who are your favorite heroines in real life?
I’m not really prone to hero crushes (you know, the “no more heroes” punk thing) but women of the Resistance come real close.
*What is your most vivid memory of the 90s (from music, fashion, politics, culture)?
Looking back, it seems all I did in the 90s – after I came to live in Milan – was volunteering in cineclubs (late Jarman films and American independent movies were favourites), and going to gigs. Though my taste was still for 80s stars (I’d go to see Nick Cave, Sonic Youth, Pixies, Current93/Death in June, Diamanda Galas, Creatures), I do have some distinct 90s memories: seeing an early Afterhours concert during occupation at Brera Art Academy; switching from vinyl to CDs; commenting with an old-like-me friend: “Hey, not bad, these Nirvana guys”; listening to Smashing Pumpkins’ Adore (on my Discman) on the bus to one of my first serious jobs; seeing the Rage against the Machine (or was that in 2000, probably yes).
Politics: distinctly hearing the PAC bomb in 1993; seeing the first Forza Italia blue billboards; the huge April 25th, 1994 rally; being at a CSI concert just after the ’96 Italian election day: Ferretti (then still in his right mind) was actually smiling…
*What does “feminism” mean to you?
Awareness of gender issues and fighting discrimination.
*Have you ever given an active contribution to the feminist cause?
Not in organized form (this always smells a bit of separatism to me) — individually, I think I did.
*Have you ever experienced sexism?
In the form of underestimation (at work), yes.
*The quality you most admire in a man?
Nobility of feeling.
*The quality you most admire in a woman?
*What is your motto?
I don’t have one–it might be “Respect”: it’s what I live by, what I demand for myself, and a good song too.
*What is the object that represents you most?
Though I have an intense relationship to objects for aesthetic and symbolic reasons, I can’t see myself represented by one object. But maybe my constant need/love of boxes, bags, bowls, vessels of a kind, says something about my nature (studying and learning is actually all I can do).
*Who would you have liked to be?
A more brave and creative person.
*Could you put your identity into a few key words?
European, brain driven, art lover, hopelessly middle-class.
*How do you imagine your identity changing in ten years? Or twenty?
Your identity is your identity is your identity: it can shift, but I don’t think it can radically change. That said, at 53 or 63 I’ll probably be less of a tidy employee and more of an eccentric cat feeding lady (or is it just wishful thinking?).
I thank Rose very much because she was the first to embrace the project and because she sent me some beautiful personal pictures of objects that are particularly meaningful to her.
Now, readers, it’s your turn: what do you think of this idea? Share your thoughts in the comments!