Black and White
As much as I KNOW that attempting to replicate the post I wrote yesterday is virtually impossible, I’m having a hard time letting go. Getting started (again) is even more difficult
I guess, what it (“it” meaning this experience, this song and, even feminism itself) all comes down to, is expectations. All this pressure; a lot of which is self-inflicted. High standards are all well and good, but not when they become a seemingly insurmountable roadblock.
expectations (in five parts)
Initially, I was not even interested in listening to Surfacing. On one of our many trips to Future Shop, my dad picked up a copy of Sarah McLachlan's latest album and held it up in front of me, saying that he would get it for me, insisting that I would like it. I clutched a copy of the Sneaker Pimps’ Becoming X and gave Surfacing a passing glance. How good could this album be, when even the cover art didn’t draw me in? When we got home, I eagerly tore the cellophane off of Becoming X and cast Surfacing aside.
Fast forward a few weeks, months, years later and I’ve listened to Surfacing so many times I am afraid that I will wear it out. My walls are covered with Sarah McLachlan posters and my school agenda is plastered with pictures. I tape every TV interview and clip articles from magazines. I am a card carrying fan club member. I have a Sarah McLachlanesque haircut. I take piano lessons. I am a devoted worshipper. People at school think they have me figured out, that because I like a certain type of music (and, let’s be honest, a certain female singer-songwriter) then I must be gay or, at the very least, different. I hate to think that I let what they thought influence my behaviour, become defensive, feel that I needed to justify myself (though I mean, really, what teenager doesn’t feel that way?), but it did.
I went to Lilith Fair the summer of 2008 with my dad (1. It’s funny that this is his second appearance in my “feminism” post; and 2. Bless him, we went again (twice!) the following summer). It was an exciting experience for me—not just because I got to see Sarah McLachlan perform, but because it was unlike anything my teenage-self had witnessed before. It wasn’t just the fact that there were so many women gathered in one place—I had been to things like large Guiding rallies before—but rather the fact that women’s issues were being so prominently highlighted; that a sense of mobilization could be felt. I am not saying that Lilith Fair was some pivotal cornerstone of the women’s movement, but that it played a large part in my own personal formation as a feminist.
Despite the fact that I do not connect to her music as much as I used to, I have to acknowledge the fact that Sarah McLachlan has a place in my musical makeup and, in turn, this community. “Black and White” was always a favourite of mine. I felt the lyrics (or, parts of them anyway)—the sense of struggling to figure out who I was and what I wanted while, at the same time, wanting desperately to make everybody happy. This is something I struggle with, still. But, I think it is something that I will continue to overcome as I (hopefully) become self-assured and, maybe not so paradoxically, more rooted in something outside myself.
I have to give Sarah McLachlan credit because she was the catalyst. I sought out Margaret Atwood’s Surfacing after McLachlan mentioned it in an interview. This led me to Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, a novel that so profoundly unnerved me, it gave me nightmares. It made me angry (in a let’s-fight-the-oppression-kind-of-way).