Sunday, December 02, 2007

No Apologies

I have left this blog unattended for too long. Several of the comments that have been left within the last month deserve a response. I’d like to begin by responding to the comment below about Jenny Lens. I understand the reason for this comment, and yet I love a woman who can sing her own praises. I wholeheartedly support the practice. It doesn’t mean that I think that Jenny Lens single-handedly created the L.A. punk scene. The L.A. punk scene was made up of a bunch of highly creative, intelligent people. Many of us had been misfits in school and not just because we liked a different kind of music, but because many of us had social I.Q.s that were sub-par. Committing the social faux pas of announcing to the world that we’re happy with ourselves is a hallmark of that type of behavior, but is it really a bad thing? Most of us probably think we’re pretty cool, but are aware that spending too much time talking about our own achievements will create the impression that we’re self centered or conceited. I think it’s refreshing that Jenny thinks she’s all that and is willing to say it. Women in general should do a little more of that. Men have been doing it for years. Take a look at any of the male dominated cable news shows and you’ll see for yourself.

As one of many punk rock artists involved in the early punk scene, I often meet people for whom my band or something I’ve said or done had deep personal meaning. Sometimes they tell me I’m the best and it makes me feel really good and sparkly when they do. I know that “the best” is a relative term. I know that because I connected with certain people in a different way than some of my fellow artists, I became significant to them but each artist, musician, photographer or journalist appeals to individuals for different reasons. Just ask around and you’ll hear people give you their analysis of who the best (fill in the blank) really is. I like me best, and I respect people who like themselves best. Shouldn’t everyone be working towards being their own hero? I mean, if you don’t like yourself best then you should probably start working on yourself until you do because it’s not what I think or what Jenny thinks, or what anyone else thinks that matters.

Another comment that made me think long and hard was from a woman defending her choice to wear the veil. It was not my intention to insult women who wear the veil and yet I find that what I’m saying may be interpreted as inherently insulting. I am saying that these women are being victimized by their religious beliefs and by the establishment that supports them. I could say that of many religions and in fact of any women who must function within a patriarchal establishment and play by its rules. There’s no nice way to say it. I think you’re being hoodwinked in the same way that Americans are made to feel unpatriotic if they disagree with the administration’s views. Religious leaders need to be questioned and their ideas need to be challenged now and then.

Although I cannot apologize for my position on the subject of the veil, you shouldn’t take my disagreeing with you as a personal insult. Being able to exchange ideas, to question your own beliefs, to respond and defend your views, all those things are necessary for spiritual growth. I know that religious belief is not something that most people debate intellectually. The religious experience is personal and unique to each individual. My intention is not to attempt to invalidate anyone’s beliefs, simply to voice my own. For me, it would be impossible to participate in any religion that does not put women on equal footing with men. If Jesus himself, or Mohammed, or Buddha, spoke to me personally and said that women are inferior to men, I would still reject that as false dogma because I know with every ounce of my being that this is not true. I do not practice blind faith. I like to examine my beliefs scrupulously, with my eyes wide open.