Maya Angelou and The Hidden Past

The world was saddened by the demise of Maya Angelou a few months ago. She was a great leader, a brilliant teacher and above all, a wonderful soul who had so many stories and life’s lessons to share with us. Admit it. We actually learn about people more when they are gone. Their good and bad deeds would turn into topics to discuss for the next few days.

Maya Angelou was no exception. She passed away at the age of 86, leaving behind her glorious life as a legacy. The media did a commendable job in highlighting her achievements but what amazes me is the fact that the media glorified the ‘good stuff’ of her life, the ‘past’ that we would be proud to talk about, the stories that would earn her more ‘respect’ and the talents she had that left the entire world amazed.

What about the past that made her into who she was until the day she died? What about the ‘least glorified’ stories of her life? The untold mistakes that made her stronger and wiser?

I’m not very sure how many of you had actually read Maya’s books. I came to know that she was one of the most successful non-fiction writers after her death. (Shame on me on not knowing this earlier! I know. I will be buying those books soon! *excited* ) Maya Angelou had a very challenging life. She was raped, she was a prostitute, she smoked pot and took drugs. Throughout her life, she was a strong advocate for the underprivileged people. She stood against racism, sexism and other ugly forms of discrimination. In an interview with her, she had explained what it actually feels to be doing something that may be wrong in the society’s point of view.

I agree that she had lived life to the fullest and nobody would have preferred talking about her as a prostitute in the wake of her death but ignoring her past as a sex worker, a night club dancer and a madam for lesbian prostitutes simplifies her legacy. This issue was debated by Aya De Leon on Huffington Post. Maya never felt intimidated by her past. She chose to embrace her past, forgive herself and learn from the mistakes. There are lessons she learned from the journey of her life. Her past defined her life and herself.

Her past itself also advocates for prostitutes, lesbians, gays and feminists. Unfortunately, the media did not discuss her struggles as much as they embraced and celebrated her achievements and this is actually an issue that we should address. When someone is walking out of their ‘not-so-nice’ past, turning over a new leaf and looking forward to living a meaningful life, why do we choose to encourage them to erase their history?

Failure leads to success and success is celebrated but nobody values failure. We are living in a society that is highly judgemental. We are expected to find the route to success without failing because people don’t accept mistakes. As soon as we know someone has erred in their life, we quickly judge them, label them, degrade them and undermine their quality of life.

One of Maya Angelou’s autobiographies, “Gather Together In My Name” revealed her life as a sex worker.

“I sat thinking about the spent day. The faces, bodies and smells of the tricks made an unending paisley pattern in my mind. Except for the Tamiroffish first customer, the others had no individual characteristics. The strong Lysol washing water stung my eyes and a film of vapor coated my adenoids. I had expected the loud screams of total orgasmic release and felt terribly inadequate when the men had finished with grunts and yanked up their pants without thanks.”

I must say that we hesitate to accept women’s past as compared to men. This double standard has been around in our society for a long time. As a result, women erase the black marks in their lives and avoid being discriminated.

Do you celebrate your past without prejudice and let people know who you are for real or do you think it is necessary to safeguard your darkest secret in order to allow the society to let you live life peacefully?

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Feminist Rating On Movies?

Image from http://i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/02725/potter_2725991b.jpg

This might be an old news for some of you. I think this rating was introduced in Sweden somewhere in the month of November last year. This new rating for movies based on the level of gender bias was introduced in the cinemas as an effort to encourage more female characters and stories emphasizing women. 
The rating is carried out using the Bechdel test and for a movie to get an “A” rating, it should have at least two women characters talking to each other about any topics or issues other than men. I have read a few articles on feminist rating to get a clearer idea on how this rating system is being implemented and I only manage to get one clue and that is for the movie to get an “A” rating, it must have at least two named female characters who talk to each other about something other than a man.
Taking this new rating system into consideration, many box office movies fail this test and that’s including the Harry Porter films. If you have a look at the comments on articles on this news, you will be able to see many, MANY men who disagree with this rating system as they feel that this is just another bullshit from the feminism movement, thus calling feminists feminazis! 
I think the purpose of this system is good but the mechanism to implement it has flaws. It has a very vague guideline and will not assure the elimination of sexual violence at any cost simply by ensuring movies having more than two female characters discussing about anything other than men. The aim of this new rating system is simply to promote gender equality among the society and I believe it has to start from the media which is a great influence on people. I do agree that movies traditionally do not emphasize on female roles and if you look at movies from the East or Bollywood productions, female characters are not given importance most of the time. Although there are some very good movies based on women, they do not get to be in the spotlight. 
The main issue about our movies and the media is that the film and advertising industries have been bias and the public has been getting wrong perceptions about gender equality all these while! Take a look at this advertisement below. 
I applaud the effort taken by Sweden to handle the way media portrays women in the eye of public. But, it could have revised the way the system works to ensure better results without compromising the quality of movies being produced. I hope it doesn’t kill good movies with unnecessary bad ratings.
While reading some comments from readers about Sweden, I got to know that men are not allowed pee while standing there. I guess we should always look at the bigger picture. As long as they know how to aim, it doesn’t matter how they pee. What do you say?

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