In Defense of Emilie Autumn

This rant is on this blog and not on my ranty blog because it’s a popular media rant.

A little background as to why I’m writing this.

I’m trying to change my Tumblr theme.  Again.  And I found this cute little Sailor Moon “Fight Like a Girl” artwork.  And I was like “Hey, I can use this with some cute lolita theme and make it all Emilie Autumn and badass cutesy-ness.”  So I Googled EA so that I could amass pics of her (because I lost my former collection when I lost my old computer.)  And I see in the bar above the images some related things and one says “Violin Bow Incident” so being the curious cat I am, I clicked on it.  Sigh.  Bullshit…bullshit…bullshit…did I expect to find anything here really?  But then I see this confessions sort of thing and it says this:

I hope my patients never find out about EA.  She does exactly what you SHOULD NOT DO when it comes to mental illness; lets it define her, rule her life, and uses it as an excuse to be cruel, insensitive and avoid her obligations.

What what?

Okay, I’m an EA fan yes.  But I’m not crazy stalker fan type.  As y’all have seen here on Tumblr, I like a butt-ton of things.  I obsess over a lot.  Right now, I’d tell you that I’m far and away more interested and obsessed over wrestling than EA.  And I actually keep up with Veronica Varlow more than EA herself.

But what?

Let me just…

I’m a psych major.  Mental illnesses are a fascination of mine and I just finished an Abnormal Psych course (that I even have to retake this year.)  This means I’ll have gone through three different abnormal psych courses.  I primarily focus on PTSD with a deep fascination for addiction because those are the ones I will need/want to know thoroughly for the career I want.  [For those that care, I want to do adolescent/young adult rape trauma counseling.]

For one, Emilie suffers from bipolar disorder – though I am unaware of whether or not it’s Type I, Type II, cyclothymic or something else.  Personally, I have a friend whose mom has suffered for as long as I’ve known her and I’ve watched her herself suffer untreated (and yet, highly functional) until just recently.  [It’s odd seeing her medicated.  She’s much more rational now, but still not…fully un-crazy.]

Bipolar disorder is a toughie to live with.  For one, even medicated, this is something you live with your whole life.  It’s going to define you because you don’t go a day without having to think about it and work around it – even if it’s just to remind yourself to take your medicine.  That one act reminds you that you are not normal and that you could easily slip back into a bad place.  I’ve seen it in my friend.  Even now, she has to deal with the medication’s side effects, which include a decreased sex drive and is putting her relationship with her boyfriend on edge.  My friend even makes time to go to single therapy and group therapy, but it puts a strain on her relationship and her working life.

You can say “Oh I’m more than my disease” but the fact of the matter is that this disease affects every aspect of your life and even managing it pervades everything you do.   Of course you’re defined by it.  It’s almost a fundamental part of your being, and probably helped define your personality.  Kel is finding it hard to be as energetic and adventurous as she was when she was manic.  That personality change is not comfortable and can lead to more problems.  This is why a lot of people go off their meds occasionally.  They don’t feel like themselves.

This occurs with other disorders too, but specifically the mood disorders.  Because it’s hard for a person to tell that their moods are abnormal, they live with a pervasive mood that becomes part of their personality.  Take my hunny, who has suffered from depression as long as I’ve known him.  He doesn’t know what happiness is supposed to feel like.  He’s suffered for so long that falling asleep and hoping to not wake up was his normal state of being.  When I asked him what it felt like to love me, his answer was “It feels like nothing” because to him it does.  He doesn’t have those feelings of worthlessness and a want to die anymore, but that doesn’t mean he feels happy the way you and I do.

So to say she “let’s it define her life” like it’s a bad thing is insensitive.  What else can it do?  It works the same way for other, non-mood things.  A schizophrenic, even medicated, is defined by their disorder.  I’m a rape victim and I let it define me.  Speaking of rape, Emilie is a victim of abuse and rape to begin with as well, not to mention having a nearly non-existent relationship with her father.  So yeah, she’s a little militaristic-feminist.  If I was a bipolar and someone I trusted took advantage of me, I’d probably be the same way.  It’s been hard enough as someone who only suffers from having been raped to think of any way to be nice to the stranger that did this to me.  I mean, my speech to the court when he was sentenced was chock-full of the anger I still hold toward that asshole – and I don’t know him from Adam if you get what I’m saying.  I know that love and forgiveness are the way to go; I know that I should let go of the anger in my heart toward him but I can’t.  I just can’t and I don’t think that I ever will be able to forgive him for taking my innocence away in such a fashion.  I mean, this is why I listen to Emilie.  I Want My Innocence Back is exactly the song I think of when I think of my rapist.  Which is exactly why she wrote the fucking song in the first place, ya feel me?

I mean, in some ways, the anger and radical feminism are just part of the act.  Her whole act is to be a crazy inmate at an asylum.  She doesn’t…she doesn’t just play a concert.  It’s partly a theater performance at the same time that it’s a concert.  It’s make-believe and it’s “historical fiction” of a type.  She paints men as they were back in the Victorian Era.  If you understand this, than you understand her music much more deeply and you also understand how she creatively worked out a way to deal with her various mental traumas.

[Side note: to the idiot who thought that Emilie was more Georgian than Victorian – Georgian thought was characterized by rationalism, which is not what EA does.  She definitely does the romanticism and mysticism of the Victorian Era.  The Georgian Era was also a time of very strict social classes, while the Victorian saw more social movement.  She sings occasionally about being married off for money, something that wouldn’t have happened in the Georgian Era with its strict idea of social classes.  Also, if you listen to her descriptions of medicine of the time, it’s much more reminiscent of Victorian times.  Those are the times that saw the increase in use of nitrous oxide – mentioned in several EA songs – and asylums began popping up at the time of Queen Victoria to deal with the evils of prostitution.  Along with that, some great injustices began to be done to women suspected of being promiscuous.  Maybe YOU should read up on history.]

But she, like me, lets it define her in good ways.  My whole career plan is to help others who went through what I did.  In essence, I’m going to relive my rape every time I sit down to hear one of my patients talk.  But that’s okay.  That’s how I cope.  Emilie copes by working her disorder into her music.  She literally uses her music to cope with being a bipolar rape victim.  How is that now what you’re supposed to do?  She could have far, far more destructive ways of dealing with her disease.  And yeah, she doesn’t always do what you should do to be a perfect patient.  News flash: most of the people I know on medications for a mood disorder don’t do what you’re supposed to do.  That’s because we’re all human.  I was just listening to my manager talk about how to drink while on anxiety meds (even though you’re really, really not supposed to drink on those.)  Do I encourage that?  Hell no.  But I can’t stop people from being human.  One of the problems with our justice system is that we try to regulate people’s behaviors, which is pretty much impossible.  But she admits her flaws and works toward fixing them.  When she made the decision to stop drinking while on her meds, other fans woke up and used her example to do the same.  What about that makes her “bad” at her own recovery?  Hell, I didn’t really think there was a bad way to recover from mental illness except to ignore it and not change anything.

Not to mention that Emilie, like a lot of bipolars, has been institutionalized for suicide.  She has attempted (it’s not that rare) and has been on suicide watch.  How do you think The Asylum for Wayward Victorian Girls got written?  And how in the hell is writing a mostly fictional piece based on your own experiences what “you should not do” in recovering from mental illness.  Her whole point in the book is that mental illness is misunderstood and that not everyone in the ward is insane, which if you’re part of the business, you should know already.  Most hospital mental wards are full of people that need help but won’t be there long.  My father did addiction counseling, and he’d push and push people through only to see them back a couple months later.  If there’s no room in the detox beds, they’ll send addicts to the psych ward.  They’ll keep schizophrenics there long enough to medicate them and put them back out.  My hunny did time at one of the local wards for suicide – in fact, quite a few of my friends have – and it’s an experience they never want to repeat.  Not only do they still feel suicidal anyway because the wards don’t really help but they treat absolutely everyone the exact same and not everyone needs to be treated like a schizophrenic.

Watch the news and you’ll find out that our prisons are more full of the mentally ill than our hospitals are – because at least in jail they’re more taken care of.  Look at all the mass shootings this year alone and see how many of them are mental patients that have fallen between the cracks because we have a system that doesn’t know how to really deal with mental illness.

Of course Emilie’s illness defines and rules her life.  Anyone living with a mental illness or is close to a person with one can see that it’s a struggle every day to be even sort of normal and functional.  Considering that Emilie manages to write and publish a book and produce her own music under her own label, not to mention all the touring she does and it’s not usually in this country…hell I’d call her quite functional.  I mean, she did like 6 tours for only two albums.  She put out multiple EPs in a single year.  She’s done lots of work on other people’s projects: Metalocalypse features her violin and she’s remixed her own tracks and did an original piece for a couple of the Saw soundtracks.  She’s acted, not only in her own music video for Fight Like a Girl but collaborated with the same director to act in his movie The Devil’s Carnival which I think is getting a sequel and the guys that did that did one of my favorite movies ever: Repo! The Genetic Opera (which came before that failure of an action movie Repo Men.  Totally rip-off of The Genetic Opera man.)

She’s working on a 3 hour musical adaptation of her novel.  She makes most of her costumes by hand.  Her performances include giving her “background singers” actual things to do besides sing and prance around.  Veronica actually played the harpsichord at the performance I saw, as well as having her own on-stage moment with a member of the audience.  Veronica is also known for doing burlesque performances for the show while Captain Maggot does fire dances.

The only times she’s ever bailed on live performances were for her own health – and not her mental one.  I mean, she had to have jaw surgery at one point for crying out loud.  Following her blog means that I know when she cancels because of sickness – a woman who works as much as she does probably gets more sore throats than the rest of us – and generally she reschedules so that people who paid either at least get their money back or get a different show and sometimes even upgraded tickets to make up for the inconvenience.

Telling me she ignores her obligations is so terribly uninformed.  Just because she’s not some big huge name touring all over the US doesn’t mean she’s ignoring obligations.  They’re just not obligations to anyone but herself or her fans.   And even though her stuff has been pushed back and pushed back, she’s not the only one and it’s not as bad as it could be.  Look at Azealia Banks and the fact that her debut album has yet to be released – four years after she dropped her first single.

As for cruel and insensitive, first of all if you’re talking about her feminism then fuck off.  Yeah, she doesn’t like men much.  Neither do I if I really think about it – except for a few like my hunny and my dad.  I’m sick of catering to men all the time too.  Us women do that too much in our lives without even thinking about it.  I know I’m a libfem and our views differ somewhat but Emilie really is all about using herself and a woman to empower herself as a woman and as a person.  Even if that includes promiscuity and lesbianism, she should be allowed to go for it.  It’s like Nicki Minaj and her new album cover; because she uses her sexuality for herself and not for men, it’s deemed “inappropriate.”  Fuck you.  It’s not like I disagree with a more radical revolutionary view – though sometimes I do disagree on talking points.  But to hold hatred and revenge against a rapist…I understand that to a great degree.  As a liberal feminist focused on rape culture, my eyes got way opened to the way women tiptoe around men without even thinking about it and that’s wrong.  I feel the way she feels about men and rape too, on a regular basis.  I express it differently – writing down my feeling in a diary or making up a fanfiction – but it’s not like she’s much different; her diary is just a public one.  To feel confined by a mental health system that works against you…I can dig that.  She’s said way less hurtful, hateful shit than the SJW radfems on Tumblr.  But she doesn’t take shit.  When some drunk asshole (who got thrown out by the way) was catcalling her while she was performing she told him exactly what she thought and where to stick it.  That kind of woman is my hero thanks.

And anyone who talks at me about “cultural appropriation” can stick it because none of you understand what the fuck that is.  I’ve seen someone ask another person to “stop learning Spanish because it’s cultural appropriation” and I’ve also heard someone say that you can’t eat food that’s not from your own heritage because that’s cultural appropriation.   Since you people have no fucking clue what you’re talking about, I’m going to automatically dismiss your comment as bullshit if I see those two words in it.  Thanks.

It’s not like she gets a whole boatload of hits on Google News.  She’s not making any real waves of controversy and most of the complaints I hear is about her being too radfem for anyone’s liking.  When I do try to google instances that I’ve heard of, I come up with squat but rumors about what people have said she did but not what she did.  I find an Encyclopedia Dramatic article.  I find Wiki articles.  I find other bloggers talking about it.  Do I find what people have been commenting on?  No.  Do I find the source of the problem; the actual tweets or interview or whatnot?  Hell no I don’t.  But as I understand her music and I understand the theater part of it, it makes a lot of sense.  Even if she’s telling stories on Twitter or Facebook or her own website, I’m not dumb enough to believe every single thing.  She’s an artist, all the time, who has consistently said that much of her act is theater.  She doesn’t turn that off, at least not when she’s communicating to her fanbase.  Why, if you’re a fan, the first thing you think of is real life and not fictional drama I don’t know.  As an artist, I wouldn’t be putting real and personal information out online.  Not a shred of it.  I’ve seen what happens with artists who do.  So anytime she updates with anything that seems important or really personal, I take it as a skeptic and assume she’s creating more of her story.  Why do you think that as a public artist she should be telling you all her secrets and putting everything out there for you to see?  She gets to save her real self for the people that know her best – her friends, her family, her lovers.  She gets to show us whatever the fuck part of us she wants to show.  I know that kind of messes with your little idea of gossiping about celebrity personal lives but she gets to live how she pleases.

And yeah, what she talks about could influence other younger and more impressionable minds to follow her like some mindless trend.  That’s the same of any artist.  Look at Justin Beiber and it’s the same, or Kim Kardashian, or Britney Spears.  Remember all the kids that committed suicide right after Kurt Cobain did?  It is on parents to teach kids what is fantasy and what is reality; what is okay for them to like and admire and emulate about an artist and what isn’t.  That’s not on EA.  She shouldn’t have to go “I can’t talk about my mental illness because then kids will want to have it.”  No, that’s not healthy either, and it’s wrong to ask her not to talk about issues that are close to her because of the children.  Eventually, children are going to have to face uncomfortable things.  You can spout what you want about the fans being toxic to each other.  I’ve heard the same complaints about the wrestling fans, Supernatural fans, Once Upon a Time fans…name the fandom and somebody will tell you how “toxic” it is for them and how mean the other fans are.  Assholes exist everywhere.

Which means that people like you get to say what you want about the poor girl.  I’ve sat here and typed over 3,000 words of why what you said doesn’t hold weight but you’ll never see it, nor do you care.  I’ve never seen her give negativity the time of day, and I’m grateful for that.  If she spent all her time defending her critics, she’d never get anywhere.  I don’t tend to trust people that only criticize her, nor do I care a lick about the rabid fans that can’t find a fault in her.  What I like about her is that she’s original and she makes what she wants to make – not what a record company or a survey or an agent or even her fans want her to make.  I don’t have to like everything she does.  I don’t have to believe everything that comes out of her mouth either.  But I respect her as an artist, and I respect her as a feminist and I respect her struggle and her expressions.

In short, I respect her and nothing you say can change that.


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