The Pink Worm and The Firewall

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I grub about in the dirt searching for something. I know that what I’m looking for is a nugget of something to do with how people relate to each other – always. It might be parents and children (often), it might be lovers, friends, boys and girls, women and men, strangers, blah blah blah… but I’m always looking for the nugget that illustrates a point, my thoughts about the connectedness of everything.

My friend and fellow artist and erstwhile teacher Jill Hedges told me a tale connected to my recent feminist ramblings and postings on Facebook about the use of language (my connectedness with Jill is spooky and is a comfort and a joy!)

She told me of two boys who were buying toys with Christmas money. They were aged about 6 and 9. The youngest brother was having trouble getting his change sorted, so Jill asked him if he would like help with his purse. The older brother immediately and stridently stated “It’s NOT an purse, it’s a wallet!” Now this is a very small incident, everyday words, everyday situation that might pass unnoticed, unregarded… one might apologise for the “mistake” and move on and think no more of it.

BUT…

This small difference in word usage is significant. Purse is feminine, wallet is masculine. “How dare you imply my brother uses GIRL things!” I’m putting words in his mouth for dramatic effect, but here is the crux of the matter: purse, actress, knickers, hairdresser, male nurse, lady doctor, and most recently, female drummer and female bass player. The distinction is unnecessary.

I have been accused of making a fuss, being aggressive, or at the least, assertive over such small things in everyday language… but here is the thing… it occurred to me, after hearing Jill’s story that actually I am attempting to be the firewall against the worm:

A computer worm is a standalone malware computer program that replicates itself in order to spread to other computers. Often, it uses a computer network to spread itself, relying on security failures on the target computer to access it. Worms almost always cause at least some harm to the network, even if only by consuming bandwidth, whereas viruses almost always corrupt or modify files on a targeted computer.

(Wikipedia)

So by letting in the small thing, the seemingly insignificant, we are saying it’s ok for the female/feminine version to be lesser. I might not always notice this happening (because I’m getting on a bit and I’ve been conditioned too) but if I do, you can pretty much guarantee I will draw attention to it and call it out. He is a nurse, she is a bass player. Get over it. Both probably have enough shit to deal with and neither have enough money in their purse/wallet.

All of this musing brings me back to my drawings. They are doodle-like, mindful/mindless… one thing infects the next. The worm wriggles across the page connecting and changing the shapes. What has gone before is altered and the mutation repeated. At first I was unaware, but now I am I can’t unsee it. In the drawings (I think) I am in control of what goes unchecked and spreads, how the mutations occur. Sometimes though, I don’t see the connections until I start to use colour, sometimes not until a few days later, and I’m sure there are some I won’t see at all, but perhaps others might?

This is my nugget then: The small and insignificant touches us and in doing so, takes root, grows, spreads and BECOMES significant.

Tell me then, is this too far a stretch from a boy spending his pocket money to where I’ve used pink in my drawing? Am I seeing connections where there aren’t any?

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