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Columnists have struck a feminist rock chick

2009-08-06 15:04
We all start out with stars in our eyes. But those that make it to the top of their game (be it rock ‘n roll or accounting) aren't always the prettiest (although that helps) or even the most talented. Those that make it are the ones who're confident they have something quotable to say.

Or, as Madonna once put it: "Listen, everyone is entitled to my opinion."

I only have one Dolly Parton song - "Jolene" - on my iPod, but I'll always listen to what that balloon-breasted country superstar has to say. I dig the way she scorns pretence. Try this on for size: "You'd be surprised how much it costs to look this cheap!"

Being a famous woman can be both expensive, and tough on the soul. So many famous women echo one thing: that they (at least their public selves) are a product, co-dependent on their market's needs for identity and meaning. Madonna, queen chameleon of fame, said "I am my own experiment. I am my own work of art." Many others fight another big fight – the fight against ageing in a world where male stars with wrinkled bottoms continue to score leads long after similarly drooping female icons have been relegated to supporting roles as Mommy, Bitchy, or Funny.

The unputdownable Dolly Parton bounces back with a story defending why she turned to plastic surgery: "My husband said 'show me your boobs' and I had to pull up my skirt... so it was time to get them done!"

Dolly sure could do self-deprecating – here's another: "I look just like the girl next door... if you happen to live next door to an amusement park."

But not everybody accepts the status quo. Not everybody is prepared to always play the laugh it off game. One of my favourite actresses,Naomi Watts, said this about fighting ageism in Hollywood: "If I have to produce movies, direct movies, whatever to change the way Hollywood treats older women, I'll do it. If I have to bend the rules, I will. If I have to break them, I will."

Local legend Miriam Makeba was more moderate: "Age is getting to know all the ways the world turns, so that if you cannot turn the world the way you want, you can at least get out of the way so you won't get run over," she said. 

No disrespect to you, Mama Afrika, but I won't step aside. I'm with Naomi Watts on this one. Rage, rage against the dying of the light!* And, like her, I don't mind getting into trouble.

Madonna said, "A lot of people are afraid to say what they want. That's why they don't get what they want." She's right. Sure, saying what you want doesn't always work. But it's like entering a competition: if you enter, you may not win. But if you don't enter, you definitely lose.

So here's to storming the stage. This could be the quiet storm of a singer-songwriter cradling her acoustic guitar, or the crazy rock burnout with great big amps, getting her kicks. Or the spiritual charisma of divas like Simphiwe Dana. Or the ballsy chick who tells the perve at her accounting firm to get lost. Whatever you do, do it like you're in the limelight.

Because, they say, the cream rises to the top. But I've learned that it's the spunk that stays there. And the spunky women are my heroes this Women's Day. You know, the ones who say "Screw my gender. I'll fight that if it kills me. I'm bigger than my genitals, and braver than you expect."

Or to put it another way: You strike a woman, you strike a rock 'n roll star!

*That'd be a line by Dylan Thomas - a clever guy. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

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