Saturday, January 24, 2009

When The Cat Flips The Bird

It's here, finally: a dream from "Middle America" . . . sort of. Chicago might not be the cornfield you were hoping for. But Lauri, our dreamer from the City of Big Shoulders, has sent in not one but four dreams. It's been a tough choice between surrealist banana dramas, overpriced bagel nightmares, and an all too realistic dream about coming home to find that people have broken in, helped themselves to the facilities, and are barely reprimanded when confronted by the cops. Sounds pretty much like my six-month stint in the Windy City. "My kind of town" my ass.

Here's Lauri's star-studded winner of a dream:
Madonna's fluffy, "$1 million" cat was stalking me throughout a home right next to a chicken stand in western Pennsylvania. It was a chicken stand that actually existed, and there used to be a happy, smiling little chick on the sign, kind of waving his hand/wing as if to say, "Come on in and grab you some chicken." The cat was scratchy-bitey. 

There was also a reference made to Jessica Simpson's "revived career."

Lauri, this dream runs thick with some pejorative female imagery. It's nothing compared to the orgy of rampant sexism that pervades the Interweb, but it is possible that maybe—maybe—some images from the American media could have seeped into your dream here. Shocking, I know—is nothing sacred? Aren't dreams supposed to be communiqués from another realm more akin to mystique and magic than crass commercialism? Having tabloid gossip about Jessica Simpson in one's dreams is like having a neon Pepsi billboard orbiting the earth and a Nike Swoosh etched into the surface of the moon (which would be a Newport Cigarette logo for our compañeras in the Southern Hemisphere). But I digress.

The Madonnas and the Jessica Simpsons of the world serve as icons of a specific feminine ideal attainable by relatively few women. The highest standards of feminine glamor and beauty seem to be defined by the Marilyn Monroesque qualities of: 1. Blond hair, 2. Large breasts, 3. Hips to match, 4. Skimpy clothing, and 5. Accessorized facial features such as long lashes, luscious lips, and/or a distinguishing "beauty mark" that one hopes isn't cancerous. That these standards exclude the 98% of the world's women whose ancestry cannot be traced to Northern Europe is a statistic that would have made a smug Adolph Hitler say, "I told you so." That the remaining 2% of qualifying Arayan female stock must then conform to certain ranges of measurements and characteristics not within the natural register of most human bodies sets many up for feelings of inadequacy and resulting struggle. The socialization of some women into this scheme has fostered a stereotype of the competitive (or "catty") female persona and yes, she appears in this dream not as the Blonde Madonna, but as Madonna's precious cat.

That this catty cat is terroizing you Lauri, even in the supposed sanctity of one's dream-home, shows there these concepts are capable of hunting and haunting a person no matter what. And what sanctity is there with a greasy fricken chicken joint stinking up the house from next door? And the chicken—the "chick," the "bird," the flesh emblem of this meat market of femininity, cloyingly gesturing to the men in their pickup trucks: "Come-n-grab-it boys!" Finger-lickin good, right?

Maybe this stuff isn't actually an issue for you Lauri, but some inkling of it is swimming around in your brain as it is in mine (and anyone reading this via the internet, a medium that nets $3 billion a year worth of porn sales in the U.S. alone). What's to be done? I personally take cues from the first celebrity I ever had a crush on. No, it wasn't a member of The Brady Bunch, it was Laurie Anderson. She was one of the few weird music-makers to pop up on TV when I was a kid and she rocked some awesome androgyny that my budding 10-year-old brain found perplexingly cool. Years later I'd find a copy of Roselee Goldberg's massive retrospective on Anderson (for 50¢!) and when I read about her early art projects where she exhibited photos of every man who harassed her on the street I knew why I'd been drawn to this person: her dreams would somehow mix with mine and now I nudge them up against yours Lauri. 

I think you Lauri(e)s have some things to discuss. Maybe find an old record of hers (and get yourself some Yoko Ono and June Tyson while you're at it). Hopefully their tuneful tones will chase away the busty blonde denizens that lurk in the recesses of your mind. And should you make music and art and action in some badass fashion, send it along to 31 Dreamers.
Pictured on this post, top to bottom: Madonna, $1 Million Cat, Katie Price/André (a.k.a. "Jordan"), Jessica Simpson, Judy Jetson, Foghorn Leghorn, Avril Lavigne, and a video of Laurie Anderson as an antidote.


Morgan FitzPatrick Andrews said...

Some more links of interest pertaining to this post: Holla Back, a blog that collects photos of street harassers and posts them on the intenet, and Blank Noise, anetwork of women combatting street harassment in India.

Morgan FitzPatrick Andrews said...

Here are the links:

Holla Back:

Blank Noise: