I was home alone when I began to make out words from my neighbors. They have been fighting recently. Based off of the tone of his voice I have come to the conclusion that he has an anger problem because his words rise with such force above hers. Sure, it may also be his tone. Once she told him not to undermine her intelligence. The phrase then slipped out of my own mouth when I was speaking to my boyfriend. In jest. But the statement, as soon as I spoke it, fell heavy on the ground. It wasn’t something I would say. Was I becoming this woman? By listening to their relationship, was it transferring to my own? Furniture moved in an explosive struggle whose manoeuvres were left to my imagination. Was someone hurt?
I sat on the bed, wondering if I should call the police or my landlady.
At 12:30am I heard someone come into the room and put all the furniture back in place, and pick up what had fallen.
Women’s personal lives have so long been within households. We have seemed to carve circles on the floors like slabs in coops: like flocks of hens or beautiful things that might fly away.
A few mornings later I heard her cry.
I remember mothers who were delicate and skittish in houses with china atmospheres. Humans will change and adapt to environments like animals and house plants. I remember mothers whose skin was pale and delicate, whose voices were cracking. Will we not at least try to fit into the names that have been given to us - by god, by our family, by our society? And when we fail, what will happen? The air becomes tense and reality becomes easy to break. These masks are weak.
So does it seem so strange that women have become birds from all the names in the English language that attempt to define them? Clothing shaped the bodies of women. In the 1800’s bustels looked like the plump bottoms of birds. There was the trend of large feathers in caps that would accentuate a cheek bone. That would extend a head. Clothing will change the form of your body, and so women became rounded and small like the proportions of a plumed bird. They were referred to as chicks, birds. They shrill, cackle, cluck, titter the smallness and high pitch against the low pitched and slow. Not being listened to based off of the tone of a voice or the shape of a hand is an unfair dance.
Something in the relationship between men and women is shifting, and should shift if we are to air out the musty air of resentful houses.
Example: I never wanted to be a woman. I always wanted to be myself. These two should not contradict.
The skeleton of a wing is reminiscent of a hand or a mitten. The bird is stabilized by a series of digits shaped like a mitten that assist in stabilization to support the arc of the wing where the feathers extend. The dexterity of the hands seems to equal the freedom of flight.
So what is the purpose of wings extending out of the shoulders of women? What is it about women that could historically levitate them? Like angels. The last Victoria’s Secret Fashion show which stripped us all of good feeling. That seemed to undo all of opening that has been done to include all people into fashion, an industry that is being forced to change as conceptions of representation are changing, not only widening in terms of body image, but literally connecting people to those bodies, connecting the outside environment to those bodies. As I search through the internet to find examples of ways in which women and birds have merged in history and language, I seem to feel a growing disdain for the trend. I find the “god” mother, the great mother who is levitated like the virgin of Guadalupe, no wings but from the cherubs below her. She is not a monster, like a centaur, like a sphinx that is half human half beast, but the wings are there as a service. She stand courtly upon them, her eyes lowered in prayer.
The partial animal mythical woman was merged with an animal through wings. The point of access between this world and the sky. Sky generally representing the male, while the female figure represents the earth. While angels in Christianity were historically considered men, there are representations of the heavenly host that have become popular since the mid-1800’s who were women, looking young and sorrowful with puffy white wings on their backs in the theme of the neoclassical and pre-raphaelite paintings. They seem weighed down by their wings rather than uplifted by them. Women’s wings are more like pillows and not for flying. I need to come up for air from this one because I am drowning in down feathers.
I am not interested in looking at “fairy” godmothers, or generally fairies, or little birds who take the place of children and fetishize dreams and erotica. Bird wings are homely.
I was 12 when I bird first pooped on my head. I was with my family as we were looking for a place to eat. The incident did not hurry them in the least. By the time we were guided to a table, the seagull poop was plastered in my hair.
Conjured: the winged victory, or Nike of Samothrace, a Hellenistic statue whose name now graces some of the most sought-after shoes. We know the statue without head or arms. In this state she is particularly alluring. Without a head, her body appears very large. Her chest and her leg extend out in a forward manner of confidence. The backward extension of her wings that in this case are like arms, seem to accentuate this forward movement. She is the goddess of victory. Victory, a kind of ultimate safety that would open one up to celebration after a controlled struggle. The woman with wings is a brave messenger, both diplomatic, slightly homely, and wise. Let her not have a head, let her be all the women there was. Let her not have arms for she flys and this is her freedom. Her arms are things of this world, and Nike is not of service to others as hands might represent. Nike is a being of swift movement.
But then again. She is not a woman at all. Like all the angels are not women. They are the representation of themselves without gender and women are not birds. They never were. For birds are birds and I will end my argument here. I washed my hair of them, I watch them now from a distance. I admire their grace, but I let them be. I try to avoid walking under overpasses where pigeons are clustered for fear of their pooping. I don’t feed them and continue a marred relationship between people and birds. Birds do not sing for the pleasure of human ears like humans are not to be captured, homes like cages, relationships like bars. I do not try to embody victory, for victory is moving and ultimately ruthless if I cling so hard to its mantle. My direction is not bound to victory as my form does not generate wings.