Thursday, March 26, 2009

Who Does She Think She Is: The Discussion Continues

I want to thank everyone for their thought-full, vulnerable, honest and loving comments on the post I wrote about my experience watching the documentary Who Does She Think She Is? I deeply appreciated the dialogue about art, mothers and women who are not mothers.

I have great respect for the film and for the director, Pamela T. Boll. In fact, I wanted to share with her the impact the documentary had on me, and so I emailed her my post. It was the beginning of a great dialogue. I've asked her permission to share it with you and she'll be sharing it soon with readers of the film's blog. I hope that all of us discussing the issues and sensitivities involved will bring more understanding and deeper connection to us all.

1. My post, emailed to Pamela.

2 Pamela's response:

Hello Jamie:

Thanks for writing about your response to the film. So, sorry that you felt you and your experiences were not mirrored by the film.

I don't feel that "mother" and "woman" are the same. I chose to profile mothers, because I feel that for women who have either decided, made a choice or otherwise do not have children it is a bit easier to heed one's "inner artist." Not much easier, given thousands of years of experience as the "other." Just somewhat.

I feel that women have been seen as most valuable in their role as "mother" and perhaps 'wife." So, I wanted to explore what happens when these roles, valued by "the patriarchy", society, the culture--whatever you want to call it--- came up against a woman's need to be a person in her own right.

Yours, Pamela

3. My response

Thanks so much for taking the time to reply and for sharing more about your intention. I hear you – and I’m fascinated by that last piece about patriarchy’s valued roles and a woman’s need to be a person in her own right. You know, at the screening in Toronto when the man in the audience talked about the “luxury” of art-making, I felt so deeply this aspect of the film – how could he not see that it was about our right to be ourselves?

You know, writing about the movie has been a gift. There has been really interesting and healing discussion in my community, the creative blogging community, in response to the film and the post. People have been open and discussed this divide there can be between mothers and non-mothers. You can read the comments here if you like. It seems to me there’s more discussion to come and stories to be told.

Would you give me permission to share your email with the group? I know they would be interested to hear your response.

And I want you to know that I appreciate the film and the story. I recognize its importance. In many ways this was a matter of mismatched expectations.

Thanks again for responding.



4. Pamela's response

I would love for you to post my email on your blog!

I truly truly did not intend to exclude women who are not mothers from the issues addressed in this film. I think that even if a woman is not a mother, she has a mother, her sister is a mother, her grandmother is a mother...and in that sense, it applies.

Also, I do feel that in the film, we discuss, pretty explicitly the fact that for many women for many years, the only way to even do one’s work, was to NOT have children. So, the film explores what happens when one does have children?

I feel that for women, this issue of having children or not, can be so intensely divisive and that is sad. I love having friends who are not mothers—they have a different perspective! And we need ALL of women’s experiences seen, heard, lived and sung!

Yours, Pamela

In the end, one of my big learnings (and I've shared this with Pamela) is that there is such a deep need for our stories, for all of our stories. Everyone wants to see their story, myself included. It's like Who Does She Think She Is was a life raft in the middle of an ocean of women and each of us wanted so deeply to get on.

And of course Pamela had to tell the story she was meant to tell - and it was gorgeous and important and a reminder to us all to tell our stories and to make room for each other's.

I've been deeply encouraged by the discussion, its vulnerability and its desire for inclusion. I believe that from there so much is possible. There's many more films to be made and much healing to be done.

PS Thank you to each of you who encouraged me to consider making a film. Little did you know you were watering a dream in my heart. Much love to you all!


Genie Sea said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...


please make a film for the rest of us.

I've been thinking lately about the stories we all have to tell, and the stories we have 'special rights' to tell. You know, the ones that we would feel bad hearing from someone else's words.
I've put aside some fiction because i didn't feel I had the right to the story. so i've returned to my own tales.

So, Pamela told her story - if she'd tried to include yours and mine, it wouldn't have been so successful, perhaps would have increased the 'us and them' mentality.

And now Pamela's film opens the door for someone who can tell this side best - you.

Genie Sea said...

OH YES! Make the movie!! Need help? :)

KathrynAntyr said...

Jaime - You are so brave to share your feelings so honestly and openly. Bravo! I commend you for taking the next step and writing to Pamela.

Your curiosity and openness will take you far.

I'm delighted to hear that there is a dream in your heart that is getting watered by this discussion. I can't wait to see what Jamie does next, it will be BRILLIANT!

Hybrid J said...

Hi Jamie,

I feel very blessed to reach your blog from Megg's "More to Me". This is a place where I'll come back often for inspiration.

Your various posts on "Who Does She Think She is" is particularly touching to me as I'm too a woman who chooses not to have children and I'm also an unpublished writer who is working very hard on my craft.

It would be great if someone (you?) could also make a film or write stories about women like us!

Last but not least, may I say you have no idea how moving and powerful your post mean to me!

Thank you sooooo much ... :)

from Hybrid J (also Jamie)

Silky Hart said...

Last week I saw "Who Does She Think She Is" in Dallas and was curious to see it after reading the discussion here on Jamie's blog. I went with two friends, one is a mom and one is not (although she has stepkids). I do not have children although I have three cats and a dog.

There was a discussion after the film and I have to say there was an enormous spirit of support and passion about supporting each other as artists whether you are a mom or not.

Even though I don't have to weave in raising a child with being an artist (my art form is dance), I certainly know many dear friends who do and I had a renewed appreciation for their journey.

I liked that feeling that the lively discussion evoked. It seemed to be beyond either it is my story or it isn't, but rather let's all support each other in manifesting our artistic dreams no matter who you are.

I appreciate that Pamela had the gumption to tell her story! And Jamie, wouldn't it be fantastic for your to tell your story that so many women will resonate with! It's ALL good!