Democrats in the House of Representatives are sitting in to demand a vote on gun laws. They are violating the rules and procedures that govern a democratic system. It isn’t even likely to result in the passage of a gun law. But I totally think it’s the right thing to do.
Sometimes the rules are wrong. I’ve found that, generally, rules are made to preserve the status quo and slow down potential change. I’ve seen it in academia, the music industry, education legislation…
If I had followed the implicit rules laid out by the larger culture, I would never have become a conductor. Because there weren’t women conductors when I was deciding to become one.
Women are called “unruly” more often than men. I suspect this is because women have more rules imposed on them than men — socially, politically, professionally. How to act, what to wear, when to speak, what to say. But among men, black men have more rules imposed on them than white dudes. Just ask Rep. John Lewis. That’s a man who has learned when violating the rules is the right thing to do, when it may be the necessary thing to do in order to force the status to stop all its quo.
That feeling you get when the world around you is WRONG, that the law and the rules say it’s okay, that TV and magazines are reinforcing an idea that is toxic. When you see that playing by the rules has only earned points for the team that’s trying to defeat you. It’s a burning, angry fire. The rage inspired by injustice when children die in their school because the NRA pays senators to keep assault weapons legal. The disbelief when an Attorney General who opposed gay marriage says her thoughts and prayers are with dozens of gay citizens who are gunned down in her state, but whose spouses would not have had the right to be their next of kin if that Attorney General had had her way. And she refuses to discuss gun control.
It’s fire. It burns. But it doesn’t consume. It pushes you to ACT. And when the rules are designed to keep you helpless, you gotta use it as fuel to burn up some of the structure that oppresses. So it doesn’t burn YOU instead. You gotta be unruly.
I wrote a song about this, and I sing it to myself when I know I’m pushing a boundary that doesn’t want to be pushed. It’s more appropriate than punching anyone in the face. And it reminds me to celebrate being an unruly woman. And to remember I’m not alone.
And neither are you.
Standing in the fire that fuels me
Brandishing my power while you whine
That you find me
Choosing not to go where you shoo me
Shining with the colors of my flame
Since I found it’s a friendly.
Surrounded by the people who truly
See me, know me, love me,
And cheer me when I play
For my own team.