Passion, it lies in us, sleeping, waiting, and though often unbidden, it will stir – open its jaws and howl…Passion is the source of our finest moments. The joy of love, the clarity of hatred, and the ecstasy of grief. It hurts sometimes more than we can bear. If we could live without passion maybe we’d know some kind of peace, but we would be hollow….Empty rooms, shuttered and dark. Without passion we’d be truly dead.” – Joss Whedon
I spent decades fighting. If not with those who would have preferred my silence, then with myself, trying to twist and temper my passion into something that might be easier on the eyes, less offensive to the ears, and more digestible to those who were used to pablum. It seemed to me that the causes I fought for — namely women, children, and working class artists — deserved more honor, more space, more anger, more something than the pablum producers would ever consider necessary.
“You can catch more flies with honey,” they often told me, but the honey was everywhere, plentiful and stale, and the only ones drawn to it were the ones who owned the hives – namely politicians, publishers, and academics – who made their livelihoods drawing on lives they had never known, would never know, and could barely touch upon in any tangible way.
“Too angry,” they told me. “Too strong, too powerful, too much.” Take it down a notch, tone it down, couch it in friendlier terms. The flip side of being too much of anything, of course, is being not enough of another – not gentle enough, compromising enough, or flexible enough. At 46, I no longer fight the accusations. I’ve learned to embrace the “too much” that I am, and take pride in being passionate enough to have earned the accusations. Pablum was never my style, and while it would have been easier to go with the flow, I’m grateful that I didn’t. The truth of anything having to do with humanity is rarely discovered in an ivory tower or corner office.
The most prolific, searing, and beautiful truths come from the minds and works of passionate women. One of my favorite causes, certainly, and one that will be profiled here all week. Six women whose rooms are not shuttered or dark, but brightly lit with vision, honor, and ingenuity. Six women who have bravely rejected the “too much” or “not enough” labels, and continue to stoke the fires of their own causes, whether in music, art, literature, or medicine.
It was a privilege and a joy to get to know these women, and I hope you’ll find them as inspiring as I did.