Thursday, October 26, 2006

Sisters Are Doing It By Themselves

I never had a female role model when I was growing up. I didn't come across anyone I admired enough. It wasn't just that I wanted them to be an artist. They also had to be self-sufficient, smart, creative, ambitious (in every sense of the word) and passionate: in other words, eveything I wanted to be.
For a while, I lost faith in the much-vaunted achievements of late 20th century feminism. We used to tell ourselves, "We girls can do anything!" Рso often and to so little effect that the line has been reduced to a clich̩ barely worthy of a marketing campaign for the latest generation of Barbie dolls. I knew, still know, a lot of
very capable women but lately I've been less and less convinced that any of them are really driven enough to take on the hard work necessary to actualise their wildest ambitions. "Be who you wanna be", we're told (again, most often by Barbie advertisements). Instead, we tend to be what we can be with the least amount of effort and sacrifice.
I've been looking through Invitation, a huge, coffee-table book celebrating the life and performances of French ballet dancer, Sylvie Guillem. I've also been reading about her online, mainly bits and pieces from her quirky, fuck-you cool website. As Jenny Gilbert writes, in Who Is Sylvie?, a profile for The Independent newspaper, "Contradictoriness seems to have become Guillem's special study."
I love that she's classically trained, technically and creatively exceptional, and yet rebellious, intelligent, risk-taking and, sometimes, almost childishly playful. Whatever I was once looking for in a role model, I've found it in Sylvie Guillem.


Anonymous said...

Hazel, sometimes you can look in the wrong place for a role model - ie. Someone in the public eye. They don't need to be globally celebrated to be a role model. I work in aged care and I have never before met so many strong, driven and purposeful women in my life. Most are divorced due to, I suspect, a man not being able to get close to their core - whatever it is that exhumes so much power and forthrightness. Their passion for what's best for those in their care astounds me, that's what drives them. Whether it be art or any occupation, as a women myself, I feel lucky that I am in close contact with women prepared to do what it takes to live their best life, without me having to google one. I think you should look inside yourself as I read your blog because you have the guts to be who you are. Good luck.

AskJinxCat said...

Why do you need a role model? You seem to have found your own way. I don't think most women we think of as "role models" modeled themselves after anyone. They just forged ahead.

faunawolf said...

Well, to show how things have changed, you are indeed a role model for me.