I don't remember being a tomboy at all. Yeah, I played T-Ball and was forced to join the basketball team in junior high (black girl long legs must play), but I loved glamorous things like makeup and big earrings, so when my mom would say, "You're not very feminine" - I didn't know what she meant at all. I've always seen the world in ways I deem quite female - I've accepted the gaze of others as part of the fabric of my existence, I've played with deliberately and unwittingly the effects of my voice & shape on both sexes, and I've welcomed the process of motherhood as only my gender can do.
I was raised in the Bahai Faith and taught from a very young age that the equality of men and women was absolutely needed for the advancement of civilization. "The persistent denial of equality to one-half of the world’s population is an affront to human dignity."
Nuff said. This is the type of language and theory that I've been reading since childhood. The word feminist was introduced to me later, and I always had a hard time feeling included. Feminist doctrine advocates the equality of women and men - women meaning white women. So I steered away from this labeling for that reason, and because my own basic survival needs had me very confused about what I believed my role should be in a relationship, family or the world. These are common internal struggles that I hope get settled at younger and younger ages for all girls.
I whipped through Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's book - We Should All Be Feminists in a matter of minutes. Yes, I read fast, but it's a quickie at 48 pages - an adaption from a well received speech she gave at TEDxEuston. It's intimate and very smart without being heady - which I love. She never ingratiates herself to win you over- she simply states the facts via her own personal parables. Her stories were inclusive in a way that I've never experienced before. Her title went from feeling aggressive & pointedly bold - to warm and embracing, nearly maternal. She brought her femininity to her point of view.
So though my mother didn't see it, or perhaps in spite of this - femininity is something I've never avoided, couldn't if I tried, and the expression of it is a strong thread of my creative process.
I made my second short film with these concepts in mind. The rituals of femininity, the search for oneself through experiences of relationships that have come and gone, travel, and solitude. I call it La Petite Mort. The most visceral of the feminine experiences.
Photo of Numa by Dennis Dortch - September 2015, Los Angeles CA.
La Petite Mort 2009. Written & Directed by Numa Perrier - Starring Erica Pitts - Cinematography Tabbert Fiiller - Editor Dennis Dortch - Original Music by Henry Willis - Filmed in Watts CA