Saturday, January 31, 2009

My Banner, My Name, and My Avatar

This post is a really long time coming. I've had this blog for well over a year now, and yet I've never addressed it (though I've sat down to write it a few times). I've also, surprisingly, gotten no comments about it (though I have had comments on my avatar. Someone asked me why, if I was such a feminist, I used a picture of a woman with her mouth "so obediently covered". I had to laugh, and informed the asker that it is a picture of "Drusilla", a vampire from BtVS, who is anything but obedient, and is probably just covering her mouth to call more attention to her eyes; so she can hypnotize you and slit your throat. :P BTW, yes, that is specifically why that particular picture is my avatar.). What I'm talking about here, is my banner.

An intersectional feminist blog that uses a white man on her banner?

Maybe it's the look on his face, who that character is, or the message on the poster behind him. Or maybe it's expected that white feminists will identify with a white power structure figure (I hope that's not it), or something along those lines. Or perhaps quite simply no one, if they did find this incongruent, felt the need to mention it.

But every time I see him sitting there, knowing that the reasons have gone unsaid, it's struck me; so here I am.

I have always had a vivid imagination. It's how I kept myself sane when the world around me wasn't so pleasant to be in, it's how I retain my optimism about the world, it's how I empathize with people who I've never met, and it's also why I can't stand horror movies (they stay with me). Often, what this means is I get terribly attached to characters. Most often, TV or book series characters. Growing up, there were lots of them; Troi and Roe from Star Trek: TNG, the little bratty girl from The Secret Garden, Mara Jade and Leia from Star Wars (books and movies respectively), Tom Paris and B'lanna Torres from Star Trek: Voyager, Dr. Ross on ER, and of course, Fox Mulder and Dana Scully (it wasn't until I was older that I discovered Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Firefly, which is why I'm not going to discuss them). My two greatest loves as a "tween" and teenager were the X-Files and Green Day, and the walls of my old room in my mom's house prove it; pictures everywhere. To this day The X-Files is still my favorite TV show of all time.


Shit if I know for sure! But there are some things I think I've figured out over the years of a rising consciousness. For one, there is what both Green Day and The X-Files had in common, a serious lack of respect for authority. I love a rebel, I love counter-culture, I love defiance. I saw all of that in the character of Fox Mulder. If you want to put a feminist analysis on it, it's really what Laura Mulvey was talking about; the gaze and the two sorts of desire for a character, I both wanted Mulder and wanted to be Mulder (rather similar to why I fell in love so hard for Spike from BtVS too I think). There was also something in the Mulder-Scully dynamic that I found irresistable. I will admit, I didn't have a great working model for partnership; my parents, by the time I was old enough to figure this out, had their own problems and were growing apart, to eventually divorce.

The model Mulder and Scully set out was one I could identify with, circumstances bringing them together, and a shared mission keeping them so, respect and love growing between them, and always the files to work on together. I could identify with Mulder because his defiant, sarcastic way of handling things felt familiar. His constant ostracization from "normal" society was painfully so. I was quite convinced that all I could hope to do in this world was beat out my own path and pursue my own passion, because I'd never been able to do anything any other way. And growing up being teased, I found solace in the fact that he was too, but so rarely let it get to him. He also had an optimisim and faith in what he did that I envied. "I want to believe", is a catch phrase for so many situations I found myself in, then and since. I'm convinced that growing up with this idealization of him and their relationship formed a lot of my own self identity, what I looked for in a partner (I found it), and how I think relationships should function.

While I loved Scully's character, I couldn't identify with her strict scientific method and rationalism. That wasn't (isn't) how my brain works. In watching every week, how her strict science both inhibited and enabled Mulder; I think is where I learned a respect for people who challenge me. Yet I would grow frustrated at her attempts to rein him in, seeing Mulder as everything that is pure and good in the world and simply wanting him to be vindicated; she often stood in the way of that. Watching now, I interpret much of this differently, but hey, I didn't know much about feminism at 12 and 13. :P

But this is why I knew I had to use this picture for my banner. There is so much I want to believe in, and I'm willing to work for it. I wanted something at the top of my blog that was loaded in meaning for me, even if it wasn't obvious to the casual observer. The way he's looking up from his desk, he probably fell asleep working again; books and papers piled up everywhere; jacket off, sleeves rolled up... He is me. And he is the perfect man (or at least my idealized vision of him is).


That's why.

I could probably ramble on, but I think that pretty much covers it. And now you know why I picked the avatar I did too!

That only leaves my alias, so why not? I'll get into that too.

I have had one comment on my alias, a friend of mine said he though it was "self deprecating, in the worst way" and didn't like it. I found that terribly interesting, and have since wondered what others think about it when they first see my name next to a comment or post; but no, self deprecation is not why I chose it.

I had longed for a good online name ever since I started on the internet (about the same time I started watching The X-Files, actually, and oh yes, I researched UFO's like you wouldn't believe :P). And I had always wanted a name drawn from a Green Day song (my first great love, like I said). I tried on so many screen names over the years, drawn from all sorts of sources meaningful to me. "Serenity" finally stuck, for quite a while, but just didn't keep fitting. I very much wanted "Haushinka" to work, but the song didn't echo anything from my life, and it just never stuck. And then American Idiot came out. To say I was proud when I first heard that album all the way through doesn't even begin to cover it. My hometown boys had finally grown up, finally gone political, and not in the lame U2 way (sorry U2 fans) but in the Green Day way, and I was so on board. I first started using lyrics from "She's a Rebel" in signatures on message boards, but it wasn't until I thought about blogging that "Whatsername" really clicked in my head.

1) I love the song.
2) In the blogging world, there's a certain amount of organic anonymity (also why I don't capitalize). Your ideas can be sucked up and distributed by others and there's not a WHOLE helluva lot you can do about it. Yet, in some way, you live on through those ideas being disseminated.
3) Well, it IS an alias.
4) In the lyrics to "She's a Rebel" they say, "she's a rebel, she's a saint, she's the salt of the earth and she's dangerous...she's the one they call old Whatsername". So there's a link back to that song, which I identify with, as a sort of ideal to live up to (kind of like Mulder...).
5) Long after I'm done with all this I do hope that something of me is remembered. Like the lyrics say, "I can recall the face, but not the name. Now I wonder how Whatsername has been" and "Forgetting you, but not the time".

To me, there is something profound in that. It's like dying; your matter and energy is spread to the winds, personality dissolves, you are just an almost nameless essence that has effected those around you and carries on afterwards. I don't know if there's another song written that is so bittersweet to me, that makes me both sad and hopeful.

"They say home is where the heart is, but what a shame. Cuz everyone's heart doesn't beat the same..."

So, that's it, my avatar, my banner, and my name.

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