16 August 2009

I am not a pretty girl .....

Ani DiFranco - Not A Pretty Girl

Back in high school, I discovered the greatness that is Ani Difranco. At that age, I was just looking for something different from Britney Spears and the other cookie cutter "artists" flooding the music scene, so it was refreshing to hear someone like Ani.

I am not a pretty girl. That is not what I do.
I ain't no damsel in distress, and I don't need to be rescued.
So put me down, punk; maybe you'd prefer a maiden fair.
Isn't there a kitten, stuck up a tree somewhere?

It was the biting remarks that I appreciated at the time. They were a not so subtle "screw you" to pretty much anyone who misunderstood me, especially the boys. Oh, those silly boys. Thankfully, I have gotten past that.

I am not an angry girl, but it seems like I've got everyone fooled.
Every time I say something they find hard to hear,
They chalk it up to my anger and never to their own fear.
And imagine you're a girl, just trying to finally come clean,
Knowing full well they'd prefer you were dirty and smiling.

The one thing I hated about being in high school was that I had been in school with the same people since I was in the 4th grade. That kind of consistency does not allow for evolution of personality and character. Instead, even as I grew and changed, mostly for the better, I was stuck in this weird limbo of geeky girl who never spoke much more than necessary. And then apparently, I became what the above lyrics described. It even lingers somewhat to this day, at least to the people who didn't get to know me much past a "hi" in the hallway.

And I am sorry I am not a maiden fair,
And I am not a kitten, stuck up a tree somewhere.

Who would have thought that nearly 8 years has gone past and I am still moved by what she has to say? The same lyrics come through the speakers, but suddenly, it all has new meaning. This interpretation is much more universal, rather than specifically geared towards my peers. It speaks towards my position as a woman; I'm expected to be something I'm not. I'm not a quiet bystander and I will call you out. And I'm not looking for someone to take care of me. There's a certain amount of accomplishment from making it on your own.

And what if there are no damsels in distress?
What if I knew that and I called your bluff?
Don't you think every kitten figures out how to get down,
Whether or not you ever show up?

For me, the question is this: should I feel more accomplished because I am a woman and I did something all by my onesies? I'm not asking this out of malice, believe me. It is just very frustrating to be a woman and have all of these expectations of me. I am more than my appearance. I am more than the words the come from my mouth and from my hands. But I'm not viewed that way. (And by no means am I claiming that men have it easy. That is a whole other set of issues that I cannot even come close to accurately describing, seeing as I don't have to deal with it.)

Anyway, I will close with Ani's final stanza ...

I am not a pretty girl.
I don't want to be a pretty girl.
No, I wanna be more than a pretty girl.

1 comment:

  1. You know... I never really jumped on the Ani Difranco train, but I'm thinking I might have to change that. I've heard a couple of her songs and always found her extremely insightful and moving, but for some reason I never latched on. Hmmm...

    Shall do. :)