Hi everyone! It has been a bit since my last post here. My task list has been lengthy! I have been working on a fairly large website and social media project for the past couple of weeks, along with rehearsing for a concert I performed in yesterday.
I haven’t had a ton of time to hang out online lately. Every now and then I do catch things on Instagram, though. Late last week, Gela took time to post an incredibly timely commentary regarding women and how they treat other women. I highly recommend following Gela (@fluffywraxal), if you’re not already. While she occasionally does post pictures of her husband (you might recognize his name – John Taylor), I truly enjoy a lot of the other things she posts as well.
Lasting First Impressions
I’ll admit, at one time, I knew next to nothing about Gela. Aside from knowing she was married to John Taylor, I knew was that she was a founder of Juicy Couture, and that she didn’t think a woman could be glamorous if she was larger than a size 8. I gleaned that bit of info from an article printed in my then local paper back when Juicy was all the rage. I don’t know if the quote was used in context or was accurate, of course. In full disclosure, I was not then, nor am I now, a size 8 (USA) or lower.
Those two bits of information colored my entire outlook for many years, and I’m not ashamed to admit it. It is hard to have good feelings about someone that basically dissed an entire cross-section of women without even knowing them. As a longtime size 10, I can ABSOLUTELY be glamorous. I have natural curves that need my exact physique! I think anyone can, and should, feel glamorous when and if they want.
Giving credit where it is due
It wasn’t until I read The Glitter Plan, a book about how she and Pam Skaist-Levy founded Juicy Couture, that I got a much better understanding of who Gela really is. I found myself admiring her tenacity, as well as the friendship she shared with her best friend Pam. Sure, you can be jealous she married into the Duran-family, I suppose (I’m not a John-girl and it’s never bothered me). Even so, give the woman a TON of due credit on her own. She didn’t need John, at least not financially. I applaud that sort of thing, particularly since my own path is completely different. While I still respectfully disagree with the quote I read about body size, I admire Gela. She’s as imperfect as anyone else, and that’s why I like her.
Lately, I have found myself chuckling when Gela posts. First of all, she has a fantastic sense of humor that I really enjoy. Maybe it is because I’m over the age of 50, but I have a sort of simpatico with the “IDGAF” attitude these days. While I wouldn’t necessarily choose to openly offend someone, I’m also not going to stand around and pretend just so I don’t create waves. I strongly believe that none of us should expect to go through life without ever being offended. I’m so sorry if that upsets somebody’s apple cart, but that’s life.
I am not sure I’d even heard Gela’s voice prior to a semi-recent Insta reel she posted where she commented on a few style choices at an awards show. Her comments made me laugh—a full on belly laugh, mind you. I couldn’t help but note that I’d never heard her speak before, and she’s got a wicked sense of humor.
Head in the sand
That brings me to her latest commentary on women. I wholly encourage anyone reading to watch her reel if it is still available. Essentially though, she asks a question that essentially pushed Amanda and I to start Daily Duranie. Why is it that we women would rather push another woman down rather than give her a hand up? If you’ve been in the fandom – and I mean THIS fandom specifically – for any length of time, surely you’ve seen it. If not, you’ve got your head stuffed into a hole in the sand, because it is there. I see it every time I go to a show, read a Duran Duran online thread of any kind of length, look at Twitter or even Instagram. I hear it when Duranies gather en masse, and to clear – I’ve participated myself.
Society teaches females that being the Queen Bee takes work. “Make the peasants worship you!” It isn’t good enough to be kind, because being kind makes you weak. Nice people finish last, right? It is unwise to help other people, because if you do – they might end up higher on the social ladder. Instead, make sure they can’t climb up the same ladder! Where we should be willing and ready to applaud the successes of one another, we connive, backstab, manipulate, and flat out lie, to turn the tides in our favor.
Back (way back!) when Amanda and I first began Daily Duranie and spoke nearly every day, one topic came up more than any other: the competition between female Duran fans. We even presented a paper on the subject at an academic Pop Culture conference. Actually, Amanda and I wrote it together, but it was Amanda who presented it – I couldn’t make the trip due to financial reasons. Both of us were so sick of the competitive nature between fans, we wanted to make a difference. We’d hoped to do something, anything really, to spark a change.
The green haze
For us, the task seemed to be an impossible challenge. Perhaps it was because at the time, no matter how much we tried, there was a tendency to view any success anyone else had in the fan community through a green haze of jealousy. That went for Amanda and I as much as it did anyone else. Of course we would be jealous when we couldn’t attend an event, or if we zigged and should have zagged when touring and missed the chance to see them offstage.
Maybe it was because the math just doesn’t work: there are five (okay, four if you don’t count Dom) guys. Thousands upon thousands of fans. At most, fans get maybe thirty shows in the US, not counting the shows they do other places. If you’re LUCKY fans may see any one of those guys offstage for mere seconds to grab a photo or even to just say hi. Hell no, fans don’t want to share that time (or even the opportunity) with anyone else. It just creates an atmosphere of contempt, particularly when the fan community just doesn’t seem to be able to get past the idolization of these men as sex symbols.
In keeping my own “ish” in check here, I wasn’t kidding when I said I participated in the competition as well. I can remember many a conversation had about certain women who consistently found themselves comped with tickets in the front row (back during the Astronaut and AYNIN eras, not recently – so don’t @ me), in the same spots for each show. Word was, these women had certain “ins” with the band, and yeah – you’d be right if you asked me if I was jealous. Of course! Not because they had rumored friendships or other relationships with the band, but because they had the same damn front row seats at nearly every show I attended. Listen, I have priorities. I didn’t necessarily want to bed the band, but I wanted those front row seats!
(although the jury remains out about Roger Taylor. I did have it pretty bad for that guy…at least back before the days I began waking up having sprained body parts while sleeping!)
Can we really change the rules?
Granted, I’ve moved on to write my own blog now, but Amanda and I could never find the right path past all of that competition. Just saying the words, that we weren’t going to compete, or that we were genuinely happy for other people in their own successes, simply wasn’t enough. In fact, even if WE felt that way, a certain faction of our readers felt threatened by our own existence. Before long, we too were targeted. Whether it was because people genuinely didn’t like us, didn’t like what we wrote, or because they felt we were getting undue attention – it wasn’t long before we were hated for trying to change the “rules” in our fan community.
I’m not sure that anyone really *can* change the system at this point, and I don’t just mean with fandom. When I think about my life, I find the same push and pull between women at every turn. Even in my community band at this very moment, the competitive attitudes between women continues. For every person congratulating someone on their solo, their position on the Board of Trustees, or a task they’ve finished, there is someone else – generally another female – hoping someone gets sick before an upcoming concert, working to create a small voting block for the next election, or making sure to leave something important out of the next concert program. It is remarkable, yet not altogether unbelievable to see this happen on every front.
Gela talks about how much stronger we would be as females if we’d offer a hand up. What would happen if we applauded one another for achievements, rather than working to make sure the achievements don’t happen? What would seriously happen if instead of jumping over couches to get to a band member first, or climbing over people to grab a set list off of a stage, we offered the opportunity to someone else, first? Would it truly be that awful to be kind, and what would happen in our own lives if we did?
The knives are out
If nothing else, Gela’s rant – and that’s her word, not mine – made me think. I am happy to admit that I don’t trust many people, particularly in the Duranworld but in other parts of my life as well. I circled my wagons years ago, but now they are even tighter. Most women in this fandom of ours only have my back while they’re pointing a proverbial knife at it. I doubt that will ever change. We aren’t even that young anymore, and yet here we are.
My blog today isn’t to offer solutions. I don’t know what we can do, personally OR collectively speaking, to change the tide. Is it even possible? Moments after seeing Gela’s reel, I saw replies ranging from those sharing their own experiences to those judging Gela for the clothes she wears, the way she speaks, the man she married…
and so on.