Sunday, 12 December 2010

Beautiful, Strong, Broken Women

Those of you who follow me on Twitter will know that tonight I watched Buffy s5 ep12 ('The Body') for the first time in ages. In case you can't recall, this is the episode where Buffy finds her mother's dead body on the couch and has to deal with the immediate aftermath. The episode is wonderfully played by Sarah Michelle Gellar, and beautifully directed. There is no soundtrack, and each of the central characters plays out the most attractive facet of their character. As I said on Twitter, I'll only get behind a Buffy reboot if they can pull off something as beautiful as that episode.

Sarah Michelle Gellar's performance as the amazingly strong, yet perfectly vulnerable, Buffy got me thinking about femininity. And the way in which women are forced to juggle 'surviving' with 'being beautiful' and 'being good'. This is something I've had to deal with in my own life - as an apparently 'confident' and 'successful' woman - and I'm going to give you a run-down of women that have given me strength. Don't get me wrong... I find strength in so many women (from Emmeline Pankhurst to my bestest mate K), but these are the beautiful, strong, broken women who speak to my experience.

I would love to hear who your beautiful, broken icons are...

5. Buffy. This time last year, my dad found out he had cancer. During the time of his treatment, I got dumped and had to deal with my younger brother's 'issues' with his relationship to our dad. Of course, there are a lot of background issues, and my brother is only 16 months younger than me, but up until now his whole experience with death has revolved around my protecting him from it (mine hasn't - as my job from being 16 entails I've had to go to a lot of colleagues' funerals). Our (me and my bro) first bereavement was three days before my 8th birthday - I understood, he (aged 6) didn't - and our next was on his 13th birthday, and I've spent a lot of time making sure his birthday doesn't remind him of Grandma's death (he doesn't actually remember that Granny died around my birthday, but I'd rather he didn't remember our first bereavement). When the next death happened (when I was 17, he was 15), I had to be the one to break it to him. I might not be a slayer, but I am a big sister - and a child of a cancer patient -which is why Buffy is the first on my list of beautiful women. I can't show the whole episode, and you really do need the whole soundtrack-less thing to get the picture, but you'll get it from this:

4. Stacey Slater in Eastenders. Bipolar rape victim who wasn't totally sure what consent might mean when she was ill. (And the older, wiser me will say, hun, you can't consent if you're having an episode. And yes - I am bipolar. And yes - I am a rape victim.) Found one good man... and he died for her 'crime'. Beautifully, beautifully portrayed by Lacey Turner:

3. Tina Turner. This should be considered a clarion call to all of us who have suffered domestic abuse. And trust me, I know whereof I speak (My ex - hit me, hit his son, hit the cat). When they hit us, when they make us feel small, when they rape us, we should remember:

2. Blanche Dubois. A double one here. The character is a (possibly) mentally ill rape victim; the actress is a perfect, fragile, violent, broken harridan. No-one wanted to help Blanche or Vivien, because they were too much like hard work. I'm mentally ill (which should have been apparent throughout this post), and I've been forced to accept all NHS treatments short of sectioning. Blanche took it like this (I didn't... and Vivien Leigh didn't either...):

1. Judy Garland. I left her to last, because this says it all. For me, she is the beautiful, strong, broken woman par excellence. This is one of the most painful videos I've ever seen. Look into her eyes. You will see her soul... and mine:

1 comment:

  1. A brilliant post, which really got me thinking. All of them inspirational, strong women.
    I loved Buffy when I was growing up and felt like I could relate to a lot of what she went through. Not the vampires and demons (though thats questionable with my ex) but with the fact she felt like an outsider. I thought she was a excellent role model, and I bet of lot of girls looked up to her.
    That episode broke my heart when I first saw it. And everyone played their part beautifully. A standard that is hard to live up to. I hope they don't trash this film remake!

    And the Blanche Dubois clip...I remember watching that film in high school and it blew me away. I thought it was a beautiful, stunning film. It didn't give a lot away but hinted at episodes from the past (if that makes sense). Vivien Leigh gave a stunning performance and that film will always stay with me.

    A fantastic post, and now I'm off to consider my own list. Although, I don't think I can top yours.
    Loved it!
    Morgan (@Chick_Witch)