This work adapts the the 2014 Iranian vampire western film (of the same name) directed by Ana Lily Amirpour in which a young female vampire challenges transcultural* expectations that girls and young women are/should be passive, defenseless, naive, and without agentive sexual desire.
*While the film is set in Iran, whose national religion is often held up by white liberals (including white liberal feminists) in the U.S. as antithetical to U.S. (rich, white, male, and Christian) democracy, I use the term “transcultural” here to highlight the pervasiveness of classist and racist misogyny across many clearly drawn and powerfully misleading lines separating geographically-bound cultural/political entities such as nation-states.
(via Saatchi Art)
While spending time with my parents in the Upper Peninsula, I began exploring Finnish mythology as a way to enrich my own understanding of and connect to the local culture. In doing so, I “discovered” Finland’s national epic poem, The Kalevala, and the story of Lemminkäinen’s resurrection accomplished by his mother and a bee.
What really struck me, aside from visceral descriptions of the mother’s work to piece her son back together and the problem of never naming the woman who literally saves her son from his own stupidity, was how the mother persuaded the bee that it could fly to heaven an collect the nectar of the gods:
“Thou canst surely fly to heaven,
To the seventh of the heavens,
O’er the Moon, beneath the sunshine,
Through the dim and distant starlight.
On the first day, flying upward,
Thou wilt near the Moon in heaven,
Fan the brow of Kootamoinen;
On the second thou canst rest thee
On the shoulders of Otava;
On the third day, flying higher,
Rest upon the seven starlets,
On the heads of Hetewanè;
Short the journey that is left thee,
Inconsiderable the distance
To the home of mighty Ukko,
To the dwellings of the blessed.”
In other words, she’s saying you accomplish a fantastic feat the way you would an ordinary one — one step at a time.
Here are two newer iterations:
Is it possible to use cultural symbols of gendered roles/expectations to challenge the assumption that these roles are natural/innate?
I hope so.
(via Saatchi Art)