Friday, March 20, 2009

Inspiration: Who Does She Think She Is?

About a year ago, I first saw this preview. It still brings tears to my eyes. I immediately signed up for the movie's mailing list, offered to host a viewing party at my house and couldn't wait to see it. A couple of weeks ago, I was so very excited to found out there was a Friday night screening in Toronto and a panel discussion afterwards featuring the director, Pamela Tanner Boll and Janis Wunderlich, one of the artists in the film. Of course, Shannon, the Movie Moxie, and I immediately decided to go.

When I watched the preview, what I saw was the challenges faced by women when answering the call of their inner artist. My heart stirred. My soul answered. I recognized these women. I recognized that experience in myself. I thought, this is a movie about my tribe! Yes!

But what the movie is really about is the challenges faced by mothers when answering the call of their inner artist. Now, that's a powerful issue. That's a story that needs to be told. And it's not mine.

So in watching this movie, I appreciated deeply the artists and their struggles but each moment I felt sad to be on the outside looking in, not included in something I had been looking forward to for so long. And as a feminist watching a feminist film, I was surprised to experience what felt like an underlying tone that it was not only possible but appropriate to collapse the distinction of woman/mother, as if by nature they are one and the same. That not only left me out, it pushed me out.

There is power in this movie and in the way it takes a stand for each of us being able to fully commit to our dreams and express our gifts in this world. As someone who believes in this with all of my heart, I just wish I'd been seen as one of 'us.'


Shannon the Movie Moxie said...

Great post Jamie, I completely agree. I really wanted to love and enjoy the film but felt pushed to the wayside. It's so sad when it feels like something that feels like it will be akin is not.

I did enjoy seeing a lot of the artwork and wish these women sucess.

Sara said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sara said...

The trailer has touched me, as I can relate to it. I want to see this movie. I'm sorry you felt pushed to the side. How disappointing especially since you were looking so forward to seeing the movie.

blisschick said...

Yep. Sad. As if we aren't ALL mothers in some way. Think of all the people you nurture, Jamie. And the animals so many of us care for. We are all mothers.

A friend of mine is a blogger who is constantly feeling left out of some inner circle of blogging that she feels is dominated by MommyBloggers. I used to think it was totally in her head, but I sometimes feel this too.

Feminism was supposed to be about CHOICE, and not one choice for our lives is any better than the other. I respect 100%, for instance, the women who make the brave and beautiful choice to stay home and raise their children. I just wish some of them didn't see me as "partial woman" just because I've not given birth -- there is, sometimes, a definite condescension.

Sarah said...

Thank you for sharing this - I'm off to look for it!!! Wonderful!! Sarah

Shannon the Movie Moxie said...

We are not all mothers. That is a choice as well.

patricia said...

i totally hear you on this and i AM a mother -- but my kids are 25 and 19 so i feel very left out too...
p.s. met w/melba and maggie yesterday... ;)

tinkerbell the bipolar faery said...

I have often felt as though a secret, unspoken rule exists among many women ~ if you're not a mother, then you're somehow incomplete or deficient as a woman. Perhaps there's a little of that sentiment in there.

Some women have opted out of motherhood. That's ok ... its a choice. Some of us opted in, and the magic of motherhood lies partly in seeing yourself in your children. And the awe comes from realizing that I made that. Perhaps motherhood is one of the ultimate forms of art.

"{Mom] always tells us art is a risk."

I like that.

Sydney Harper said...

Thanks for the review! The preview was very powerful for me. I was looking forward to the movie. It's too bad the focus was so narrow. I'm sure that's an important story too, but it's just not what I expected.

Dragonfly said...

Thank you Jamie. I so appreciate you posting this and am so glad that I have been led to your blog. Tears seem to have become a close friend of mine lately and today you have stirred my friend.

Danette said...

I read about the screening too late and was so sad to have missed it, I'm glad you guys got a chance to see it!

And I'm so grateful for your important perspective. There is clearly such a need there, for the creations (non-baby creations that is) of women to be celebrated and honoured in society, and it's so disappointing to feel left out of a film that I had imagined would be so much more welcoming to women who are making different choices with the lives they are creating.

I agree that the issue of making art and being a mother is a very important viewpoint, but I would like that specific viewpoint to be communicated in how they advertise the film. I too, thought is was about being a woman in general, not a woman who made specific choices to become a mother.

Looks like you'll just have to go out there and make us a film Jamie! :)

p.s. I happened to pick up a great Canadian book at Goodwill this week, a collection of essays called "Nobody's Mother; life without kids"

So far, it's a wonderful read.

Thanks for your post Jamie.

KathrynAntyr said...

Oh Jamie, I can feel the weight in your words and hear the disappointment. I'm sorry that you felt left out and not part of this movie experience. Your review was very thoughtful and well written.

I'm saddened to read the other comments where women may feel some how less because they have chosen not to have children. There is absolutely nothing wrong with not having children. I wonder if their feelings may be a sign of their own struggle with their identity and decision.

It is too bad that the movie trailer was misleading. Do you think you would have felt left out had you known the message before seeing the movie?

Genie Sea said...

As someone who does not have children because the circumstances in my life did not allow for it, and I did not push the issue, this post is very important, Jamie.

I have always felt (and still do) left out of the Mommy Club. There have been times that I have been made to feel less of a woman because I don't have kids. Phrases like , "You don't understand because you're not a mother" still haunt me to this day.

I certainly don't need yet another reason to feel alienated.

It's disappointing that we as women cannot seem to get a handle on our own womanhood without qualifications. It's a shame a movie with such an important message is aimed at only a section of women.

I agree with Danette. Maybe you'll have to get out there and make us a film Jamie. I would gladly help :)

Genie Sea said...

In fact, Jamie, you inspired a whole post on my blog. :)

Sara Moriarty-delaFuente said...

I am sorry that you felt this way. As a mother and artist I know that the combination creates challenges. However I do not believe that these challenges are unique to mothers alone. All creative people experience them in one fashion or another. Although I believe that this topic needs to be addressed more often, it certainly shouldn't be at the pain of others not included in the "us."

As some of the other comments have said, maybe this is a calling for you to make a film...

Lastly I would like to add this - you provide me with support and inspiration, and help me see that it IS possible to be both a mother and an artist. It was never an issue of whether or not you are a mother like I am, only that you are an inspiring, brave, and generous person offering your insights on how to live a fulfilling creative life. Thank you for all that you give me and help me see, Jamie.

dolci said...

Thank you for posting this clip for us to see. It seems that no matter what path our lives seem to take (or choose to take), we might miss some experiences others have. This is what makes collaboration so important.
Your valuable work has given many of us insights that we would otherwise never have. That's HUGE.
Thank you for your nurturing nature :).

Kat said...

I enjoyed this clip immensely and would now like to see the film, but your commentary was also elegant and deeply necessary. Sometimes motherhood is not a choice. Sometimes life circumstances happens to leave us childless. It does not make us better, lesser, more generous, selfish, or more creative than any other woman.

DG said...

We definitely aren't all mothers. Some of us not in any way. I am one of those. I had no idea when I saw this preview that it would be about mother artists. I would have walked out of the movie, crying. It is not the truth that to be a woman is to be a mother. This is only one way, to be a woman. Not mine. Not yours. And that's perfectly natural.

I'm so sorry this was an alienating experience for you Jamie. You are not alone.

CynthiaMarie said...

Hi Jamie -- I loved the trailer, it spoke to us as woman, a force to be reckoned with, together or on our own. Though my first thought was, o goodness, another movie about women who are successful pursuing their dreams while I raised kids. Every special on TV or movie I've seen about successful artist, dancers, and creators -- none of them ever seem to have children. It's always been like, ya, if I had the time I would do that! A bit of envy there.

That the movie ended up being about mothers is not astonishing. We've needed one for awhile, I think. Not to separate, but to speak to different challenges different women face.

Sometimes it's tricky and I love reading this discussion. I've always felt this uneasiness when a woman says she doesn't have kids. It's not that I care or judge, but I think she thinks I'm taking inventory of her life decision, or even the apprehension of maybe she can't and, God, don't go there for fear of a touching on a painful subject.

I'm a mom and I'm proud of it, and I don't want to ruffle feathers and know this next statement will, I'm sorry Bliss chick this isn't being personal to you, but I just don't think raising an animal is the same and that is just a pet peeve -- :) no pun intended. I do believe there are totally different challenges a mother faces being creative. Just different. No special meaning attached.

However, on the other side of the coin is my feeling of "less than" when I say I never completed that Degree or don't have that Certification for something. When I fill out one of those questionnaires that say 'some college' and I have to check that rather than Degree, my stomach twists with some sort of angst; I missed something, I'm not part of that group. I feel like I'm looked at askance when I don't produce letters after my name. Both views from both sides are unfounded insecurities and at the same time probably true sometimes.

Genie Sea said "It's disappointing about not being able to get a handle on are own womanhood with qualifications." Couldn't agree more.

Which begs the question, How secure am I? Something for me to think about. Thanks Jamie. I liked mulling this over and reading the responses.

love & light

Connie said...

I thought much of the same thing when I saw the trailer for this movie....unfortunately, there are still other issues troubling women from living to their fullest creative potential--of finding and manifesting that space within themselves and their lives to create. Motherhood is only one of them. I didn't see the movie yet, but I'm sure they did a beautiful job portraying this issue...maybe this is your cue Jamie to create another kind of movie--where we ladies who choose to be childless can relate.

And...I agree with Christine of BlissChick...aren't we all mothers in some sense. You especially Jamie.

Peace & Love.

chest of drawers said...

I hate that the film made you feel left out. Cheers to all women who are letting their creativity out into the world and even more cheers to the women like you, who are encouraging others to do so aswell!

Fatma said...

I have not seen the movie but I do not think it meant to make you feel left out. I am a mother of 3 children and always consider every woman a mother. You are the mother of our book club tribe. You gave birth to this idea and brought all of us together in such joy. You can mother is so many ways without having biological children.

Thank you for making a difference in many lives.

Much Love