Reality Grab Back

Posted by: Cate Whittemore

This is a drawing of Beyonce in her “Formation” music video, the moment when she gives us, the audience, the bird, as she is standing, backed by dancers, on the front steps of a plantation house, bedecked in jewels, a black hat, and in a period gown. The song’s lyrics, at that moment are, “When he fuck me good I take his ass to Red Lobster…” It felt like a break-through, a relief, to voice rage with that much blatancy and cool. I was IN it, feeling relief wash over me, telling the world off. I had to draw it.

Later, viewing her “Lemonade” video, I again felt cathartic relief watching Beyonce, burning with rage in an acid yellow, off-the-shoulder, full length gown, crack car windows with a baseball bat, fire breaking out as she passes.  My drawing tries to hold and honor her freedom to rage, to go beyond women’s expected behavioral constraints.

As a girl, daughter, and wife, I have been conditioned to carefully control how I express my feelings, to be ladylike, refined, mum, positive, loving, kind, rational vs. emotional.

I was gaslighted, when I was married, long ago. My reality then was denied, and since then that story has been rewritten, erased, cleansed. My version of events was not allowed. My way of seeing things was … CENSORED.

I give people the benefit of the doubt. I can usually see that my point of view might be wrong, that quite probably I have been mistaken. The tiny platform which is my reality zone is constantly morphing ~ I am a work in progress. I am easily influenced. I struggle to stay in the game as Me. I am susceptible to gaslighting.

Exacerbated by years of my reality being denied, I am still full of doubt. It is my default position, and as such is an adaptation and function of being a creative person.

During my marriage, to keep my sanity, I resorted to drawing. I kept a journal of drawings of serious, abusive events. My struggle to live past those events has been vast.

I am still not sure how to express this subject, how to voice it. When I disclose this staggering part of my history it feels aggressive, and as if I may be wrong. I am not clear whether it needs to be mentioned any more, and yet, NOT to mention it feels like erasure, and erasure demeans me and my accomplishment in surviving.

I needed to find a way to not have my journey/story erased, and decided to try to convey the experience of ONE episode of domestic abuse, when I was thrown off the raised front porch, and landed across the sidewalk, an incomprehensible act.

This is now my animation entitled, “I’ll Never Tell”.

The term ‘gaslighting’ gained traction recently right along with Trump’s ‘pussy-grabbing’ tape ~ pundits were bandying it about, stuck in a quagmire of rehashing. The salient questions and concerns seemed to be plowed under by shock and confusion, the combined effect of media spin and Trump lies. Trump’s culpability got lost in it.

But the ‘pussy grabbing’ video has changed us, coupled with Hilary’s loss.

We are no longer gas lit. We are the narrative now. We are witnessing the dying efflorescence of MACHO. Women are collectively done. Thanks to Donald Trump, the national dialogue is focused on women’s issues. The current landslide of females denouncing predators and gropers, started, for me with Beyonce giving us the flip side as she flips us off. Trump’s repugnant remarks are more repellent now because they are OUT OF CONTEXT, in this new narrative of advancing women’s stories, refusing to be objectified and abused, shushed or erased.


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