I think about the movies and TV shows that have had Princess Nokia's music playing in the background of its scenes; the iconography of girlhood, doused in glitter and neon lights and loud outfits, of parties in middle-class American homes and power-walks through middle-class American schools. I think about the girls of Euphoria, the girls from The Craft: Legacy, the girls of Dare Me, the girls of Booksmart and the girls from Moxie. I think about the overwhelming blistering rage these scenes contain - the way we contain it inside of us - while we trudge into classes where people tell us what to think, what to wear, what to read, and what to say. I think about the protagonist in Moxie, a white girl with token POC friends, a white girl whose eyes we must learn about the patriarchy through. The irony is not lost on me.
But I think about the opening scene of the movie nonetheless, where she dreams of screaming in the middle of the woods and nothing comes out. I think, now this is universal. The prophetic nightmare. I understand this. I've had these dreams my whole life. I've had it while running from something in the dark, I've had it while screaming at my family, I've had it while hands grabbed at me from unseen corners. I understand what it means, spiritually; blocked throat chakra. You feel silenced, you haven't yet found the inner power to speak your truth. You are fighting the entire world, and every time you speak up, the world punches you in the face. Tells you you're making shit up. Mongers the fear of the overemotional woman in people. Or worse, takes your body away from yourself. How does one take away something that is literally stuck to your soul?
But I know this, too. Hormones and nervous systems and the brain checking out at its highest state of stress for survival. I know how bodies turn into shells and bury us so deep inside of it. Or does it eject us so far that it propels us to the other side of whatever astral plane it operates in now? And I know that it does it so naturally, so easily, because the DNA has been building and reforming and slinking into its own seatbelt, its own helmet, its own kneepads, and hazmat suit in the bodies of the women that came before us. Generations of them, running for cover behind their own bones. I think about the scene at the end of the movie, when a girl comes forward and tells everyone how she's survived abuse, survived someone taking her own body, and how she's survived the silencing of it for a whole year. What happens after the survival?
The girls, crowding the entrance of the school, all begin to scream - one by one in a canon. A song of visceral release. A returning of the rage unto the world that has given it to them. I think of Midsommar, of that scene that people call horrifying. Unsettling. When all the women crowd around each other at that cult retreat and wail and cry and spit and snot in each others' faces. I think of how natural that seems to me. How logical. Of course they're screaming and crying their throats raw. That's what every interaction with another woman has been like to me. That deep understanding and a space to scream and cry and scream and cry and scream so that we can make enough room for the joy and care the world expects us to bring unto it.
I think of the scene afterwards, when the girl returns to the same dream and she's screaming again, but this time, her voice finally comes out. Loud and clear. High-pitched and bothersome and filled with all this emotion everyone tries so hard to strangle out of us. I cry instantly. I know the dream. I've had this one, too. After talking to other women, after bringing up the things I care about in classrooms and online, after standing up for myself at the dinner table when a male relative tells me they don't think rape culture exists, after doing years of self-healing through the internet because my colonised culture doesn't allow us to talk about how its failed us, after leaving people out of my life because they choose not to understand that We are hurting. I know this dream. And I know that it'll come to you, too.