Holy fucking shit. Lady Gaga’s Netflix doc, Five Foot Two, is one of the most intimate artist portrayals I have seen in a very long time. I’ve always felt so similar to her in a lot of ways but last night as I watched the film, I was able to see how our personal, emotional, mental sensibilities are practically identical. And I think it has something to do with being destined performers and a whole lot to do with being women. I really think a lot of women are going to relate to her realness. Her rawness. Her vulnerability. Her insecurities (which, you think a megastar at her level would have expelled already). Nope. She still fucking apologizes for “being a girl.” Like. Shit. Got. REAL.
Just a few years ago I grappled with literally every demon I saw take a hold of her throughout the shooting of the doc. I used to apologize for crying when something hurt me inside. And I used to cry, fuck, did I cry. I still do. Sometimes the pain comes through and it is a debilitating sob that feels like it is coming from the core of my being. I feel volcanic. It is a volcanic cry. And my lifeblood flows out with it. Nowadays, it usually happens when I try to sing and I just think, omg I can’t do it. I’m not good enough. My voice is ugly. I didn’t hit that note the way I wanted to. My throat is tense. My neck is tense. I feel dry, I feel hot, I feel tired. I can’t breathe. I’m pathetic, look at me. I’m weak. I am nothing. A loser a loner not worth a second glance.
Back in the day it would happen with everything.
I am dealing with it now. I really think Gaga could benefit from doing some Gabby Bernstein. Not to sound prescriptive, but I saw how fear is literally crippling her. She needs to know that everything is going to be OK. And that she’s not pathetic. She is perfect. I mean, she’s only 1 year younger than me so maybe her spiritual awakening is on its way.
One thing I could really relate to as I start my journey into music is the power play between men and women. Guys, I haven’t even released 4 bars of music and I’ve already encountered men who think they know better than me. I’ve encountered men who treat me in a patronizing way. And I’ve also seen myself resort to acting like a meek, insignificant little girl, just like, out of instinct whenever I meet any man in the music industry. Especially if they are accustomed to playing the part of patriarchal messiah. Like, fuck you. Really though. These power plays are so subtle, you don’t even realized you just played your part in a gendered dance until it’s over. You go home and think. FUCK. What the fuck was I thinking.
Some men are sneaky like that. But, I think a lot of women are conditioned to play their part. It actually takes effort for me to break that habit. I have to take a step back and subvert. And sometimes it comes out super fucking weird and I feel like I’m not being myself. Other times, I get the respect I’m looking for.
I dunno. It’s like a lot of guys assume they know more than a woman right off the go. Like, sorry. No, you don’t. I was just nice enough not to come in here guns blazing so you wouldn’t call me an aggressive bitch. But, the more I think of it. I should have come in here precisely like that. Why do women have to be so extra mean to get their voices heard?
I know it is going to be an uphill battle when it comes to men in the music industry. Fuck, if Gaga is still going through it – seems that it is really going to be one of my biggest challenges. One of my biggest challenges in life (which is strange because my father is literally the nicest man on earth and I can never do wrong in his eyes) is the authoritative male; teachers, bosses, boyfriends, doctors, customs officers, police, lawyers, old fogies, etc, I just recoil in their presence cuz I think they think I’m an idiot as a baseline. So, everything I say will either further prove their point or make a case against it. It’s like as women we are idiots until proven intelligent.
Idiots until proven intelligent.
But, I’m not going to let my insecurities and fears cripple me anymore. I have to make peace with this and I really think entering the music industry where big scary men rule and I’m peddling my most prized possessions: my artistry and my voice; is going to make for a fun ride…
I mean, I’ve already had a veteran male studio exec tell me I’m too old. OK. Appreciate the advice but again in the words of Anne T. Donahue, “I AM ON MY OWN TRAJECTORY, BUT THANKS FOR THE FEEDBACK JK I DO NOT CARE.” NB: whenever quoting Anne, you must quote in cap lock.
The old me would’ve spent days thinking about it, weeks even. And would have subsequently quit singing or changed something about myself to fit the mould. The Justine I am letting out from inside all the scar tissue spent one day thinking about it lol, and then dispelled. I am not going to let anyone stop me. I will fight until death to have my music heard and to share my voice with the world. There are no “mistakes” – there is just me.
So, thank you to Lady Gaga for showing me that being my true self is so beautiful. It feels so right. When you can stop caring about what other people think (and it is NOT easy, it is a lifelong work in progress) but in the moments that you just let go of all the fear, all that is left is pure joy.
I think I’ll stop here but I do have a few other things I want to write about later….