Bodies of Characters
A few weeks ago Kevin and I went to the screening of a documentary entitled, â€śFerry Talesâ€?. Cutely named for sure, this film explored the unmentionable realm of one powder room shared by many-a-woman. The viewer is able to witness a miraculous bond that has been developed between these women. Leaving the age-old divides of race and class at the door, there is a force that can only be defined as absolute unity.
When first attending the viewing, I was a bit surprised to see that 5 people (Kevin and myself included) had shown up. As a side note, there was candyâ€¦and I ate a lot of it. Keeping this in mind, I will plug the Office of University Women and unashamedly say: got to more events; there will be candy and interesting topics.
Moving onâ€¦â€?Ferry Talesâ€? explores the conversations and relationships of women traveling from Long Island to Manhattan via the ferry. This is about a 30-minute ride that most people use to dope up on coffee or pass out for one last spell of sleep before the drudge of work consumes them. However, the women documented seek out their ever-present sisterhood they rely on every week morning. Barely touching on how this gaggle of girls became, one can assume that it took on the effect of a snowball: members infiltrating in and out of the powder room until sooner or later they have the tight-knit group shown in the film.
Interestingly, these women only rely on seeing each other on the ferry. Mentioning the need to attend to their busy lives as wife, mother, worker, cook, etc., they rarely have time for anything else. They look forward to their 30-minute retreat; itâ€™s a release from their usual life, which allows time for themselves. Of the footage shown, it seemed that this was the time to let everything off their chest, and bitch to people who will confide all information. Because they are not involved in one another's lives outside of the ferry, these women are unbiased to the stories shared.
This trip is a sort of retreat from the womenâ€™s busy worlds, which, at times, feels dull and monotonous. The water dividing Long Island from Manhattan serves as a sort of transitional body between homemaker and career woman. The central focus of the movie was the makeup these women applied between their â€ślife shiftsâ€? (â€¦if you will). That makeup carries a symbolic reference to recreating oneself and becoming some other character within, in this case, becoming a professional woman.
After viewing the film, Joanna Oâ€™Connell, a University Professor, led our discussion. While discussing many relevant issues within the film, I really focused on the interpretations of makeup. I began to wonder about the burden a women carries of proving herself to the rest of society, not only as an adequate mother, but also as an adequate worker. There are so many roles a woman is expected to fulfill, that it seems natural to put on a different costume for everyone.
In an effort to prove our existence in the workforce, we must prove to the male-dominated realm of professionalism that we belong. There is a certain way to dress, a certain way to wear your hair, and a certain way to apply makeup. If we deviate from these social norms, we risk not being taken seriously. If we are not taken seriously, we lose credibility in our position, and so it goes for being a wife and a mother. Women have certain guidelines to live up to within various facets of their life. Each role they attempt to take on carries certain restrictions and penalties for ignoring those restrictions.
To me, the ferry ride was an escape from all these roles. It gave a chance for the women to forget cultural demands and societal pressures and just be women. Talking about whatever they want, forgetting the faĂ§ade of differences, for 30-minutes they allow themselves to take a break. Upon reaching Manhattan, they are different characters, ready to take on a different world.